Two UW-Stout alumni leading the way in entrepreneurship, higher education

Tanya Ragan and Kristen Raney change lives through building communities
Abbey Goers | November 20, 2023

Two UW-Stout alumni, a nation apart, are working to change lives and build communities through dedication to their individual industries – real estate and higher education.

Award-winning real estate company Wildcat Management has played a leading role in revitalizing downtown Dallas for almost two decades thanks to its president, owner and founder Tanya Ragan.

Kristen Raney made history when she was appointed as the first female president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay this past July.

Committed to transforming communities

Wildcat Management, the only female real estate development company in downtown Dallas, specializes in the redevelopment of urban and historic neighborhoods. With more than 17 years of experience downtown, it has built a national reputation by working with public and private sector partners to create vibrant spaces that promote a sense of community and spark economic growth.

Tanya Ragan
Tanya Ragan, president, owner and founder of Wildcat Management / Tanya Ragan

“I am a self-made business owner and female entrepreneur that has played a leading role in revitalizing downtown Dallas for almost two decades,” said Ragan, a 1997 fashion merchandising alum, now the fashion and retail program, with a business administration minor.

“Our niche is creating an authentic neighborhood experience with an emphasis on community building. I have seen firsthand how local businesses, residents and projects benefit when people come together and get to know one another in their communities. I like to say that I build things,” she added.

With passion, dedication and commitment to excellence, Ragan leads by example, prioritizing hard work, reliability and accountability. 

Her main role is to be visible, present and committed to her team, partners and clients.

“The most important thing you can do is show up. As a woman working in a highly male-dominated industry – representation matters. Less than 1.5% of women in commercial real estate investment are self-made. The expectation for me is higher than my male peers, and I recognize the responsibility that comes with that role,” she said.

Ragan is also committed to empowering the next generation of businesswomen; investing in projects with strong female leads; and providing professional guidance to young business students at local universities through internships, mentorships and leadership conferences.

“I have turned my experience as a trailblazing businesswoman and self-made entrepreneur into a testimonial for female business owners throughout the country. Many of our awards are national and we have a broad reach. I believe that by bringing together like-minded professionals, I can help foster a collaborative environment that will lead to greater opportunities for all,” she said.

Wildcat Management advocates for small businesses, economic development and pro-community initiatives downtown. Ragan maintains relationships with local business organizations, state officials, City of Dallas leadership, the Dallas police department and various city departments. 

Ragan organized and led efforts to revitalize and revive the Dallas Farmers Market neighborhood – now the largest residential district in downtown Dallas; and led teams to relocate and redevelop downtown’s oldest commercial building – the Liberty State Bank – and the historic Purse building.

Writing her story into NWTC history

With more than 20 years of higher education experience, Raney became the eighth president in Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s 111-year history.

 

Kristen Raney, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College president
Kristen Raney, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College president / Kristen Raney

“Leadership is about people and relationships. It is about sharing a vision, empowering others and fostering a culture of trust and respect,” said Raney, a 2006 master’s in education alum, with an online teaching and learning graduate certificate.

“NWTC’s commitment to access, equity and student success is outstanding. Every department is working to remove barriers for students. NWTC really lives one of its core values that ‘everyone has worth,’” she added.

NWTC, a two-year technical college serving nine counties, provides education, training and life-long learning opportunities for individuals and businesses leading to the development of a skilled and culturally inclusive workforce.

“Our students and graduates stimulate the economic vitality of our district as a result of the application of skills and knowledge acquired through the completion of certificates, degrees, diplomas and courses,” Raney said.

Raney’s priority is to meet with faculty, staff, community partners and area employers to build strong relationships internally and externally, ensuring NWTC remains a vital industry partner in northeast Wisconsin. 

“NWTC’s mission inspires me because it reflects the impact technical and community colleges have on our students and workforce. We change lives and strengthen communities. It is incredibly powerful. As a mission-driven leader who has made student success the focus of my career, the president’s role is a call to serve students, employees and the communities surrounding Green Bay,” Raney said.

Most recently, Raney served as vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, in Davenport, Iowa. She was also vice president of Academic Affairs at Saint Paul College, St. Paul, Minn.; and dean of Academic Development and Services at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire. She has a Doctor of Education in higher education leadership from Edgewood College.

Ragan and Raney were featured in UW-Stout’s 2023 Outlook alumni magazine. The Alumni Association offers on- and off-campus alumni events, travel adventures, opportunities to impact student experiences and more. Contact the association to learn or to connect with alumni: 715-232-1151 or alumni@uwstout.edu


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