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Lyna Matesi

University of Wisconsin

United States

Lyna is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and co-founder of the UWSP Center for Women’s Equity, Development and Leadership. She serves as a speaker, coach, facilitator, and educator. Her passion is helping organizations, teams, and individuals, particularly women define and maximize their success.
Lyna’s goal is to create a sustainable business model for the Women’s Center through fundraising and business development. Lyna seeks the support of the WLW fellowship and network to clarify her focus, align her action, and energize the next phase of her life.

Lyna Matesi


What is your story?

What drives your work?

My story. Ha! I often say that I am a girl from nowhere. I learned a long time ago not to refer to myself as “white trash”—a badge of honor among the women in my family of origin. But I do come from nowhere or maybe almost nowhere. What drives my work most of all is my belief that anything is possible. I can see systems and create new systems because I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little girl. I was born to a single teenager in 1967 during the summer of love in California. I attended 14 schools before starting college. I grew up in many American subcultures: hippies, bikers, farmers, carnies. The primary skills I learned from skirting mainstream American culture are how to work hard, how to dream big, and how to talk about anything. Possibilities drive me.

Describe your biggest strength as a leader

My greatest strengths as a leader land somewhere between vision and implementation. I have a long history of starting new things and getting things done by weaving people and ideas together. And I love. I love people. I love ideas. I love community. I love change. It is a wild, weird, wonderful thing to be human together, and my strength is loving and believing that we can do anything.

Describe your biggest challenge as a leader

My biggest challenges are exhaustion and despair. I work too hard and can be overwhelmed by all the barriers inherent in social change. I also struggle with prioritizing myself. The work at hand often seems so much more important. My fierceness can drain my reserves.

About the
and the Project.



Vision & Mission

Please see for more details:

Through the discovery, dissemination and application of knowledge, UW-Stevens Point fosters intellectual growth, provides a broad-based education, models community engagement and prepares students for success in a diverse and sustainable world.

Vision: The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will continue to be recognized for developing, supporting and educating students and citizens to constructively engage in local, regional and global communities.

Values: In addition to our primary value of education, we also value:
-Community engagement
-Critical thinking
-Diversity and inclusivity
-Lifelong learning
-Professional preparation
-Research, scholarly and creative activity
-Student-centered environment
-Sustainable management of natural resources and other resources

Year Founded


No. of Employees


Years in the Organization

12+ years

Annual Budget (USD)


Geographical Area Served

Part of the 12-campus University of Wisconsin system.
UW-Stevens Point Enrollment: ​7500
Number of International Students: 125
Number of Countries Represented: 30
City of Stevens Point:
Population: 25,000

Organizational /

Project Description

I will focus on the UWSP Center for Women’s Equity, Development, and Leadership I co-founded in 2022. I’ve struggled to gain traction with the center. For it to thrive, I need to find a way to fund the center. I think that will be done by offering memberships and events or programs such as conferences, online certifications, and academic classes. I need help expanding my thinking, acting, and leading. I want my WLW project to focus on:
1. Defining a sustainable business/funding model for the center
2. Creating an aspirational multi-year plan and budget model for the center
3. Outlining multiple phases for implementing the plan and budget model for the center
4. Completing whatever we set as Phase I by putting at least one funding stream for the center in place within the WLW year

“UW-Stevens Point School of Business and Economics will become a state-wide integrator for excellence in women’s development. We will unleash women who lead in for-profits, non-profits, voluntary associations, and social enterprises. We will be a hub for professional networking, entrepreneurial support, leadership development experiences, women-enabling philanthropy, and gender-informed research. UW-Stevens Point has a wealth of uncoordinated initiatives and resources that could be leveraged to differentiate our undergraduate, graduate, and professional development missions. Picture it, the Wisconsin Idea focused on a population that is ready to be heard, to step into leadership roles in every sector, and co-create an even brighter future.”

1. Qualitative and Quantitative Research
2. Opportunity Framing
3. Strategic Plan Launch
4. Donor Engagement
5. Program(s) Launch
We accomplished many things in terms of research and opportunity framing by experimenting in the community and expanding our annual conference (in its fourth year and now breaking even). Still, we did not have the time or focus to build a large-scale strategic plan, focus on donors, or launch programs.

I underestimated the amount of work my original plan would take, our access to funding, and the changing social climate. Wisconsin initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion are under very serious attack from powerful political leaders. We are seeing every kind of institution begin to back away from prioritizing this vital work. With that in mind, I would like my WLW project to focus on:
1. Defining a sustainable business/funding model for the center
2. Creating an aspirational multi-year plan and budget model for the center
3. Outlining multiple phases for implementing the plan and budget model for the center
4. Completing whatever we set as Phase I by putting at least one funding stream for the center in place within the WLW year

Why is this project important and timely?

What is the target population of your project? 

The center serves women in Wisconsin, particularly Central Wisconsin, and women who have used or currently use our campus.
According to Neilsburg, The total population of Wisconsin is estimated to be 5.87 million, with 2.94 million males (50.03%) and 2.93 million females (49.97%). There are 3,581 fewer females than males in Wisconsin. More details on Wisconsin women:

According to, the University of Wisconsin--Stevens Point has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,313 (fall 2022), with a gender distribution of 43% male and 57% female students.

During 2022/2023, we served women in the state, women in the region, and women on campus through gathering, educating, and researching:
1. Launched the Center
2. Made public presentations at Portage County and Marshfield chambers, reaching hundreds of women
3. Hosted our first Campus and Community connection at Q Gallery, linking senior women on campus and in the community
4. Benchmarked other Centers in the state and around the country, presented findings to SSBE faculty
5. Began two research streams, including several faculty, one in Allyship and one in an overall needs assessment to clarify the work of the Center
6. Participated in a panel presentation for the State of Wisconsin Women’s Council and began collaborating with them on state issues facing women
7. Participated in strategic planning and other events for the Women’s Fund of Portage County
8. Received a $500 grant to apply toward female student scholarships from the Women’s Fund of Portage County
9. Hosted the 2022 and 2023 sessions and planned for the 2024 Women Trailblazers and Entrepreneurs Conference

How will you know that you have achieved that impact? What data will you use to assess your impact?

-More women, particularly entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, starting new things in Wisconsin—measured by conference attendance, evaluations, and testimonials
-More women graduating from UWSP understanding that they are leaders and have the skills to lead—measured by program surveys and testimonials
-More women advancing in their careers and their being—measured by event and program surveys and testimonials
-More women connected to and supporting one another—measured by event and program surveys and testimonials
-More men embracing allyship for women—measured by event and program surveys and testimonials

How do you anticipate this unique leadership education impacting you personally? What new skills are you hoping too develop & grow through this experience?

I need a rich, energized community to help me regroup, resoul and realign. I want to spend time with leaders who value and lead social change. I need a new language for my leadership and a new vision of how I can lead better than I ever have before. I want to recover my verve and my joy.

Where would you like to see yourself professionally in the next 3 years?

I intend to be formally employed for the next 10-15 years. I will likely continue to speak, facilitate, coach, and teach. Doing that with partners like UWSP, CCL, Next You Unleashed, and CREATE Portage County would be great. If my dream for the UWSP Center for Women’s Equity, Development, and Leadership is fully realized, I expect it will take 2-5 years to build a sustainable funding model so that we can hire a team to staff the center.

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