Leadership Event

2024 Leadership Event


Maureen Badding received the Arthur B. Kohasky Leadership Award and a standing ovation from the crowd as she was recognized for her exceptional volunteer work in our community, including founding Tosa’s All-City Read.

The 2024 Wauwatosa Public Library Foundation Spring Leadership Luncheon recognized up and coming leaders, too. High school students Perimonique Harris, Andrew Kim, Lilly Murat, Harper Neldner, Paddy Oliver, and Addison Pape were celebrated with student leadership awards.

The keynote speaker was New York Times bestselling author Georgia Hunter who captivated the crowd with stories from her decades-long quest to uncover and document her family’s history. Hunter’s journey was inspired by a family reunion that opened her eyes to the astounding, untold wartime stories of her grandfather, his parents, and his siblings. In 2008, she set off to research and record this piece of her ancestry and, a decade later, We Were the Lucky Ones was born. Hunter also offered insights to the process of transforming her novel into a script and filming the miniseries of the same name, which will begin streaming on Hulu on March 28.


Many thanks to the sponsors of this year’s Leadership Luncheon. We deeply appreciate their support of the foundation, the library, and the Wauwatosa community. To learn more about sponsoring this event, please email TosaLibraryFoundation@gmail.com.

Leadership Event History

Since 2005, the Wauwatosa Public Library Foundation has held an annual Leadership Event to present the Arthur B. Kohasky Leadership Award to a citizen who has made a positive impact in our community, and Leadership Awards to area high school students. A popular friend-raising opportunity, the Leadership Event also features a renowned author as our keynote speaker.

The Arthur B. Kohasky Leadership Award is given to recognize leadership in all its various forms. “Art” Kohasky was a highly regarded leader in the business and larger community because of his strength of character, intelligence and a commitment to doing things well.

Past Events

Keynote Speakers

Georgia Hunter is the author of We Were the Lucky Ones, inspired by a family reunion in 2000 that opened her eyes to the astounding, untold wartime stories of her grandfather, his parents, and his siblings. The book has been published in sixteen languages and has landed in the hands of over a million readers.
Georgia’s personal essays and photos have been featured in the New York Times Book Review, Travelgirl Magazine and on Equitrekking.com. She is also a freelance copywriter in the world of adventure travel.

Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Harper’s and many other publications. She is the award-winning author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. Her new book is She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women who Lived her Songs.

Novelist and playwright Ayad Akhtar’swork has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, he received an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ayad is the author of the novels Homeland Elegies and American Dervish. As a playwright, he has written Junk, Disgraced, The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand. Brown and Columbia University educated, Ayad is a graduate of Brookfield Central High School. The Milwaukee Repertory Theater has partnered with Akhtar to stage several of his plays including the Pulitzer Prize winning Disgraced.

Joan Biskupic has covered the Supreme Court for 25 years and is the author of several books on the judiciary. She most recently published a biography of Chief Justice John Roberts (The Chief, spring 2019). Her previous books include biographies of Sandra Day O’Connor (2005), Antonin Scalia (2009) and Sonia Sotomayor (2014). Before joining CNN in 2017, Biskupic was the editor-in-charge for Legal Affairs at Reuters and the Supreme Court correspondent for the Washington Post and for USA Today.

Milwaukee native Bud Selig served as Major League Baseball’s ninth commissioner for a record 22 years. His memoir, For the Good of the Game: The Inside Story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball, chronicles Selig’s career, takes fans inside locker rooms and board rooms, and offers a fascinating account of the process involved in transforming an American institution.

Author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z, David Grann doesn’t just produce captivating stories— he immerses himself in his reporting to give his stories unmatched pace and intensity. Killers of the Flower Moon was a finalist for the National Book Award and a winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, a Spur Award and an Indies Choice Award. Four of his New Yorker articles have been adapted for the screen, including Trial by Fire, The Old Man & The Gun and The White Darkness.

Susan Cain is the co-founder and chief author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into 40 languages. Cain was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. Her record-smashing TED Talk has been viewed more than 17 million times.

Isabel Wilkerson spent more than 15 years researching and writing The New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. A winner of several nonfiction awards, this inspiring epic brings to life the story of the largest internal migration in U.S. history. Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting.

In his New York Times bestseller How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how math touches everything we do, in the same way that Freakonomics brought economics into the popular discourse. He unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts math’s power in our hands–in business and in life. The Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at UW-Madison, Ellenberg is the author of the “Do the Math” column in Slate. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wired, and The Boston Globe.

Erik Larson is the master of narrative nonfiction and the award-winning author of four New York Times bestsellers: The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, Isaac’s Storm and In the Garden of Beasts. The Devil in the White City remained on the New York Times bestseller lists for more than three years, won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was nominated for the National Book Award. His upcoming book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, captures the drama of the disaster that helped place America on the road to World War I. Larson graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Russian history, language and culture; and received a masters in journalism from Columbia University. He was a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and a contributing writer for Time Magazine and has written articles for The Atlantic, Harper’s, and The New Yorker.

Wauwatosa East graduate Jeremy Scahill is national security correspondent for the Nation magazine and author of the New York Times bestsellers Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. He is the subject, producer, and writer of the film Dirty Wars, winner of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival prize for US documentary cinematography. The film has been nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

David Eagleman is a Guggenheim fellow and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action. His influential and highly accessible neuroscience books include the New York Times bestseller Incognito, Live-Wired, and Wednesday is Indigo Blue. His first work of fiction, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, was named a Barnes and Noble Best Book of the Year. He writes regularly for the New York Times, Wired, Discover, Slate, and New Scientist, and appears regularly on TV and radio to discuss his twin passions of science and literature.

James Bradley is the bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise. Flags of Our Fathers was released as a movie in 2007 and is a companion film to the Academy Award-nominated Letters from Iwo Jima. In addition to being a writer and corporate leader, he is president of the James Bradley Peace Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering understanding between America and Asia through student exchange. Bradley is a Wisconsin native and graduated from the University of Wisconsin.