Denise Burkett soaks up the wisdom of her Depression-era elders. It’s not just the stories from her 102-year-old grandma that inspire, it’s the way she sees the world and still makes decisions based on her powerful early life experiences. “I think it’s very important for older people to stay engaged and affirmed,” she said. “Everyone has a story, and we can all learn so much from their experiences.”

Burkett is an attorney who previously worked in Chicago and Neenah before establishing her independent practice 10 years ago in the areas of corporate, real estate, and legacy planning. She and her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Burkett, are raising a new generation of young professionals, often traveling the country to visit sons in medical school, law school, and computer science studies, and a daughter who is spending the second semester of her junior year on the West Coast interning in radio/TV/film for Lionsgate and NBC.

Burkett Family

Denise’s children

Denise’s involvement on the Valley VNA board of directors began a little over a year ago when board chairman Frank Kearny asked Denise to join. As a former member and past president of the Neenah-Menasha Emergency Society, her volunteer time as a VNA Meals on Wheels driver dovetailed with a growing interest in the larger VNA organization. She joined the Valley VNA board of directors in 2015, adding yet another service role to her nearly 20-year tenure on the City of Neenah zoning board of appeals, which she currently chairs, and her positions on the boards of the Educational Foundation of Neenah and Bletzinger House.

Free time is spent in the company of her two golden retrievers, Daisy and Lily. Denise enjoys playing bridge, having taken a class several years ago and falling in love with the card game. “I know that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are serious bridge players, too. Bridge is a great way to stay focused and sharp and while I’m not competitive, I am serious about it,” she said.

As her children have grown, Denise has more opportunity to explore other interests, and she has discovered a myriad of new people and passions. Communities often come together on issues of commerce, but thrive through volunteers, Denise said. “It is very much a privilege and an honor to give back to a community that has treated us all so well.”