Palmeri's 4 Under 40

April 10, 2005

On Sunday the Oshkosh Northwestern named their annual list of four citizens under the age of 40 who have already made a positive impact in some aspect of city life and are perceived as having the qualities necessary to assume more formal leadership roles in the future. The four recipients--Megan Hoopman, Michael Scott, Amy Weinsheim, and Aaron Sherer--are fine individuals. Each deserves the recognition and I join the Northwestern in praising their accomplishments.

Nominees for the Northwestern's 4 under 40 recognition typically (but not always) represent the values of the young urban professional: upwardly mobile, politically moderate, materialistic, and competitive. My goal here is not to put down yuppie values or the people who hold them; rather, I think it is important to let citizens outside of Oshkosh know that our city is also home to a significant block of under-40s who stand for a social justice value system. The 4 under 40 I mention below may not attend every Jaycees or Propel meeting, but you might find them at peace rallies, alternative art events, or international film screenings.

And now for Palmeri's 4 under 40:

Jenni Ryan

Jenni Ryan: As she is a branch manager for the UW Oshkosh Credit Union, we might expect that Jenni would be subdued or low key when it comes to social justice. No way. A twenty-something who defies the self-centered stereotype of people in her age group, Jenni ran a spirited campaign for Oshkosh Common Council this year. She fell a few votes short of making it through a 14-candidate primary, but she represented a strong voice for open and inclusive government.

Jenni Ryan has always been interested in politics and social justice. But her experience working with activists like Bob Poeschl in the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center was transformative. She says, "My involvement within the Center brought me closer to the TRUE needs of the community and opened my eyes to the endless possibility of positive action that can happen when a community works together to accomplish things." We can expect much positive action from Jenni Ryan in the years to come.







Justin "Jut" Mitchell: Anyone who meets Jut today would find it hard to believe that just a few short years ago his exclusive interests were playing basketball and playing the keyboards. He's still a keyboard player, rocking with the Airborne Burn Victims, but he's now become a passionate political activist. Jut has been active with the UW Oshkosh Student Environmental Action Coalition, Campus Greens, and a variety of other organizations. He recently launched a political website, the ABV Army Times, and he's currently working as an Americorp volunteer at Webster Stanley Middle School in Oshkosh.

Multitalented, sharp as a knife, and armed with a marvelous sense of humor, Jut Mitchell has all the qualities necessary to be a truly great crusader for peace and justice.

Justing Mitchell
Kelley Duhatscheck

Kelley Duhatschek: Teacher/stage artist Kelley Duhatschek talked the talk and walked the walk on downtown redevelopment in Oshkosh long before it became chic to do so. The Rebel Alliance Theater, which Kelley co-founded in 1995, for years graced Main St. with an edge and dignity that cannot be replaced. Rebel still operates in Omro, still stands for a powerful set of socially progressive values, and continues to transform the lives of young volunteers. The dedication of Kelley Duhatschek makes all this possible.. She says that "Theater is the ultimate collaborative artistic endeavor: it engages all its participants in the shared experience of what it means to be human. Because it does so, it has the power to change minds and the potential to make the world a better place for everyone who shares it."

Kelley is now a professor in the Department of English at UW Oshkosh, where she teaches students to write with purpose and passion. Here's to a true rebel WITH a cause.


Andrew Schroeder: For all of us who believe with Noam Chomsky that it the responsibility of intellectuals to "speak the truth and to expose lies," Dr. Andrew Schroeder is a vital member of the Oshkosh community. A professor of media theory and history, Schroeder communicates penetrating insights about the threats to freedom and liberty in an age of corporate domination of media and politics.

Andrew Schroeder has been an outspoken war critic and peace activist, early on recognizing the links between the Iraq war and the rise of military globalization.

Schroeder has advice for his students that we would all benefit from following: "Treat your work today as if your actions faced the ethical judgment of all future generations. Then you will see that the only thing that really matters, regardless of your field of study, is standing up for justice against the unjust, supporting the powerless against the powerful, and producing as much enjoyment for as many people as possible, including yourself, in the all-too-brief time you have available in your life."

Andrew Schroeder

In Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood." I think Dr. King had people like Jenni Ryan, Jut Mitchell, Kelley Duhatschek, and Andrew Schroeder in mind when he made that statement. These 4 under 40 realize that the only way we will get to the "New Oshkosh" is by challenging some Old Ideas and the Old Boys that enforce them.

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