A capstone project for the greater good

March 24, 2014
Left to right: Lisa’s sister Tracy (Talbot) Nyhuis, her mother Carol Tablot, and Lisa Talbot


When the time came for Lisa Talbot to complete her capstone for her Master of Science in Project Management, her professors and advisor encouraged
her to think outside the box. With their support, Talbot took on a challenge with a personal connection: she organized a fund raiser for pulmonary fibrosis research. Not only was she managing a major event, she was joining her father’s battle against the disease.

Talbot had never worked in fund raising before, but her project management skills quickly filled in the blanks. Starting from her father’s love of basketball, she organized a free-throw competition where participants collected pledges for shooting 100 baskets. The local YMCA where her father played ball three times a week donated its facility. Talbot was able to assemble a team of dedicated volunteers and sponsors and create partnerships with larger nonprofits such as the Utopia Foundation and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.

“It just seemed like the stars aligned,” Talbot said. “I wasn’t sure where to start and one day the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation had a Facebook post that offered help to local fund raisers. I reached out, and with their help and the Utopia Foundation, things just started falling into place.”

The event, “Free Throws for Fibrosis,” was originally scheduled for July 2013 to coincide with her father’s birthday, but in April, he lost his battle with pulmonary fibrosis. The event was postponed, but with the encouragement of her fellow volunteers and her contacts at UW-Platteville, Talbot pushed on.

On Nov. 9, 2013, “Free Throws for Fibrosis” was held and was a spectacular success. The 36 participants and eight business sponsors raised over $12,000, blowing away Talbot’s original goal for the competition. And while Talbot had expected the encouragement of her family, she was amazed by her community’s support.

“I knew my family would be involved, but at the end of the day half of the donors were people I didn’t even know. Our original goal was $3,500, and we had raised $4,000 before the event even began,” Talbot said.

Talbot attributes part of her success to her time at UW-Platteville. She said the practical applications provided by the professors had a huge impact on her success. She hopes to continue to grow as a project manager by pursuing a career in nonprofit fund raising and making the competition an annual event. She also offers this advice for students in project management:

“The most you can get out of a degree is looking outside the box and seeing how you can change the world around you for the better. I was able to do this amazing thing, and who’s to say if I’d been able to do that without the professors and advisors at UW-Platteville? If you put in the work, the professors and advisors will work for you. They want you to succeed,” Talbot said.

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