Executive Director of the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars

Mary’s first-hand inside knowledge of educational systems, concern for the teaching profession, and passion for ensuring excellent educational experiences for all students provided a driving motivation for helping to establish WeThinkBig in 2014.

Mary Gulbrandsen is executive director of the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS). The FFWS is a private not for profit foundation providing need-based grants to recent graduates of Wisconsin public high schools who are attending Wisconsin public colleges full time. A pediatric nurse practitioner and former school district administrator, Mary has dedicated her career to helping children by combining her interest and expertise in health care and education.

A passionate supporter of public education, Mary joined the Madison Metropolitan School District over 30 years ago to implement and run the program that placed health-services staff in all Madison public schools. Mary went on to serve in a variety of leadership roles in the school district, including as chief of staff, where she worked on long-range planning, finance and operations and programs designed to improve student achievement.

Mary holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and two masters degrees, in pediatric nursing and in administrative medicine, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mary also devotes substantial time to volunteerism and board service. She is currently a board member of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars, We Think Big and the Opera for The Young. She serves on the Board of Visitors for the UW Madison School of Nursing and the UW Madison School of Education.