|Mike Nelson holds a degree in Meteorology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is Chief Meteorologist for ABC7 News in Denver, Colorado. He has been the emcee for “Bear to Make a Difference” since its early days, and he and his wife of 29 years, Cindy, have been longstanding supporters of the Foundation. They have two children, Christiana & Anders.
Mike previously worked in Madison, WI, for Weather Central Consulting from November 1976 through June 1985 (serving stations WKOW, WXOW, WQOW and WAOW). He worked on-air for the Wisconsin TV Network from July 1977 until June 1985. While at Weather Central, Mike was a part of a small group of people who developed the first TV weather computers. He also did sales and deliveries of weather computers all over the US and Canada while at Weather Central. He provided forecasting for 40 radio stations and the Department of Transportation in two states (Iowa and Wisconsin). Mike oversaw 20 forecasters on a daily basis. He later worked at KMOV-TV Channel 4 from April 1985 through 1991 as Chief Meteorologist. Mike won two Regional Emmy awards while at KMOV-TV, and developed his Weather Presentation “Tornado Dance” while working there. Mike visited about 100 schools a year and hosted the VP Fair Parade for three consecutive years.
| Judy Shepard
||In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21 year-old son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Matthew’s death moved many thousands of people around the world to attend vigils and rallies in his memory. Determined to prevent others from suffering their son’s fate, Judy and Dennis decided to turn their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity awareness & education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Judy travels across the nation speaking to audiences nationwide about what they can do as individuals and communities to make this world a more accepting place for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation. Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy focuses her efforts on the prevention of hate crimes and respect for everyone.
Under Judy’s leadership, the Foundation has become a well-established, highly effective and much respected institution in the civil rights community. She has spoken to over one million young people about the impact of hate speech and violence, the importance of understanding and appreciating diversity in all of its forms and has inspired countless individuals and communities to play a role in making the world a safer place for all of us.