Meet the Bettys: The Quadracci Family Award Winner

The Quadracci family has chosen to honor Katherine Gehl with their annual award.

JOIN US IN HONORING THE 2020 BETTY AWARD WINNERS IN A VIRTUAL EVENT DECEMBER 15TH. AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR ANNA QUINDLEN WILL DELIVER THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND JOEL QUADRACCI OF QUAD WILL PRESENT REMARKS. 

Each year, Betty and Harry Quadracci’s children – Richard, Kathryn, Joel and Elizabeth – select an honoree whose accomplishments they feel would resonate with their mother 

When Katherine Gehl decided to sell her family’s Germantown-based dairy company, Gehl Foods, to a private equity firm in 2015, it was one of the hardest decisions she’d ever made. Gehl was the fourth generation to run the company, which employed nearly 350 people. “I loved my company,” says Gehl, 54, “and I knew if I could live to 150, I would keep running it. But I lost my mother when I was 23, and that left me the idea that life is short.”  

So Gehl turned her focus to what she calls a political duopoly. “Time is short for the security of our democracy,” says Gehl. “I realized that I needed to focus on that now. I wanted to be on the court instead of in the stands.”  

Over the past several years, Gehl has worked with No Labels, a group committed to bipartisan solutions; co-founded the nonpartisan Wisconsin group Democracy Found; and advocated for a new election system that creates space for more candidates and competition. She co-authored a book on the subject, The Politics Industry, released in June. Though the road is a long one, Gehl has no regrets. Working toward political reform, Gehl says, “is a game worth losing.” 


Katherine Gehl is one of the 2020 recipients of a Betty Award. Each year, Milwaukee Magazine presents these awards as a tribute to the late Betty Quadracci, the magazine’s former publisher who founded Quad/Graphics with her husband Harry. Read more about this year’s honorees here


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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