Member Spotlight: Mary and Mike Schlageter, A Legacy of Giving

It’s said that philanthropy is learned. Mary and Mike Schlageter have experienced that over the generations. Both grew up in large familiesMike in Toledo, Ohio and Mary in Colby, Wisconsin – when the lessons of giving back were mostly through volunteerism and gifts of time. “Money was obviously pretty tight,” Mike recalls. “Our parents volunteered many hours with their city council, church and school communities.” 

The Schlageters have carried those lessons forward to their blended family of six adult kids (with four in-laws) and eight grandchildren. Mary has fond memories of volunteering with her sons, ensuring that Madison’s most vulnerable families had access to meals and other basic needs. Today her sons maintain their community service living in Madison and Milwaukee. Meanwhile, one of Mike’s daughters is a development director for a large nonprofit on the East Coast. 

After college, and into their busy careers while raising their families, Mike and Mary found that financial donations were how they could best give back. Mary graduated from UW-Eau Claire and spent nearly 30 years working in public utilities in facilities management. Mike’s 35-year career in investment management followed his degree from the University of Notre Dame. They became United Way Loyal Contributors through the ease of workplace giving and their employers’ endorsements. At Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power & Light, Mary first ‘gave at the office’ in 1983 and was a regular Days of Caring volunteer. Mike led the way at Madison Investment Advisors. 

Their household joined the Tocqueville Society in 2002. “We continue to give to United Way,” the couple explains, “as we see first-hand their successes and believe them to be wonderful stewards of our charitable dollars.” Mike and Mary’s belief in United Way extends to future giving, too. When asked to establish a named fund in the United Way Foundation and to endow their support, they agreed to join the Tocqueville Legacy Circle. “We have put United Way in our estate planning, as we want their excellent work to continue well after we are gone.” 

While future needs are yet to be determined, Mary and Mike recognize the significant roles for collaboration, partnership and philanthropy today: “Like many places, divisiveness in the community can threaten to tear us apart. There is also a large gap between the haves and have-nots. To us, United Way tries to bridge these gaps and has had great success.” 

Even as the Schlageters give generously in retirement, they also have found that once again they have time to volunteer. “I decided to volunteer on the Tocqueville Cabinet,” Mike says, “as many potential members have faced the same decision-making process that we have gone through. We want to give back to a community that has been so good to us and our family, and who better to know the biggest needs than United Way?” 

We invite you to learn more about Tocqueville Legacy Circle and partnering with the United Way Foundation! Contact us at or 608-246-4399.