• 62nd Annual Dinner

    62nd Annual Dinner

    Gary Geiger Photography Full recap below

Annual Dinner

Annual Dinner

“Being at the Annual Dinner reinforces why I am so proud to live in Madison,” tweeted Michele Wingate, director of customer experience at American Family. “Outstanding biz + community + environment.”

Read the full recap below of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce 62nd Annual Dinner.

It promised to be a Future Perfect night.

And it was. It really was.

Annual Dinner Photo gallery!

The future wouldnt be perfect without you

The Twitterverse was abuzz about the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce 62nd Annual Dinner. The quotes below are translated from Twitterese:

It’s a stellar #Who’sWho at the Annual Dinner. These 1,000 people will create #FuturePerfect.
– Madison Region Economic Partnership

After events like the Annual Dinner with a great speech by Steven Johnson it’s easy to be proud of the Greater City of Madison.”
– Brad Reitzner, M3 Insurance

Thanks Zach Brandon for bringing such a great innovator (keynote speaker Steven Johnson) to Madison.
– Ruth Rohlich, business development specialist, City of Madison.

For the second year in a row, the event sold out to a crowd of 1,000 business professionals. This year, tickets were gone in record time… just three weeks.

“When I looked out over the crowd, one table stood out as symbolizing the power – and need – of human connections to achieve Greater Madison’s future perfect,” said Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon. “One table had two members from a family with deep historic roots in the Greater Madison business community. These brothers are now community philanthropists and had not been to a Chamber event in years. They were sitting next to entrepreneurs from our startup community and were engaged in a lively discussion of Greater Madison’s history and how it pertains to our future. We couldn’t be more proud of the Chamber’s role in making those types of connections happen… before the Annual Dinner, at the Annual Dinner and well beyond this event.”

Sept. 18 the room quickly filled with members from the startup community, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, leaders of the Ho-Chunk nation, government officials and many more. The business community gathered to network and listen to a highly-anticipated keynote presentation by Steven Johnson, a visionary thinker, best-selling author and TV host of a PBS series on innovation.

After an extended networking time, Zach addressed guests, emphasizing the importance of understanding our history in order to shape our future. He cited a book by the Madison Board of Commerce—the chamber’s inaugural name—written in 1914 saying… “Madison is not a perfect city but the future city.’

“That’s true today,” Zach noted. “Greater Madison teems with extraordinary potential,” hence the evening’s theme: Future Perfect.

Local historian and author David Mollenhoff added historic perspective to the evening, observing that 100 years ago community leaders knew that keeping bright minds in Madison was essential to the region reaching its potential.

Dave Wittwer, board chair of the Greater Madison Chamber and president of TDS,  expressed kinship with earlier leaders. “We’re in a different room, at a different time,” he said. “But much of the energy is the same.”

The Madison Board of Commerce motto, “Keep the cream in Madison,” is still applicable, said Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council president and featured speaker.

Speakers discussed entrepreneurship in greater Madison, celebrating the community’s ability to attract such bright lights as Google and Zendesk. Then Steven took the stage, lauding Madison’s focus on maintaining a knowledge economy.

Change often starts with a hunch, rather than a eureka moment, and frequently has unintended consequences, he noted. And collaboration breeds change, where one innovation builds on another. “Together we’re smarter,” he said. “And, chance favors the connected mind.”

For more on Steven’s speech, see these articles:

 Wisconsin State Journal, “Collaboration sparks innovation, keynote speaker Steven Johnson tells the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.”

The Capital Times, “Steven Johnson to Madison businesses: Follow the 18th century coffeehouse model.

 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Yesterday in Madison.

Zach closed the evening saying, “Chance also favors the human connection. The importance of connecting and staying connected is the central role of the Chamber and that is how we help you succeed.” He strongly encouraged collaboration among businesspeople, not only through formal business events but also through face-to-face interactions in shared spaces like 100 State, Sector67 and the planned StartingBlock Madison.

Along with the well-received presentations, attendees received an updated version of the 1914 Madison Board of Commerce book about greater Madison, titled Past Forward: A Reflection on the Past and a Vision for the Future. All were enthusiastic about the announcement of raffle-ticket winners. Miles Tokheim of the Madison Metropolitan School District garnered the grand prize—two business-class airline tickets from Emirates to any of its destinations worldwide, a $25,000 value.

A huge thank you to MGE, our diamond sponsor and Past Forward title sponsor. A special note to ETC, our stage sponsor as well as all of our amazing sponsors listed above in the sponsor tab. Without you, the evening wasn’t possible.

But most of all, a thank you to our amazing Greater Madison business community. Our headlines says it all, the future wouldn’t be perfect without you.

2014 Annual Dinner Sponsors

Diamond Sponsor:


Gold Sponsors:

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 Silver Sponsors:

BMO Harris Bank
Godfrey & Kahn S.C.
M3 Insurance
Oakbrook Corporation
Summit Credit Union
The QTI Group Inc.
Tilt Media Inc.

Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.

Bronze Sponsors:

American Transmission Company
Associated Bank
Badger Air Community Council
Boardman & Clark LLP
Clifton Larson Allen LLP 

First Weber Group
Krupp General Contractors

Madison College
Madison-Kipp Corporation
Meriter – UnityPoint Health
St. Mary’s Hospital
von Briesen & Roper, s.c.
Webcrafters Inc.

Raffle Sponsor:


Stage Sponsor:

Electronic Theatre Controls

Welcome Reception Sponsor:

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP  

Registration Sponsor:

Wegner CPAs

Entertainment Sponsor:

Neider & Boucher, s.c.

 Dessert Sponsor:

Park Bank

Support Level Sponsor:

EZ Office Products
Morgan Murphy Media

Last year we re-energized the region’s premier networking event, bringing you new ideas and providing even greater opportunities to connect with fellow business leaders and up-and-coming entrepreneurs in our community. The 62nd Annual Dinner is an opportunity to learn and connect deeper into the business community. It is right where you want your business to be. Where it needs to be. The businesses that attend are as diverse as the many levels of sponsorship opportunities available. We would be excited to share more details and walk you through a variety of ways to gain high-level, quality exposure for your company. Contact RJ Pire today.

Raffle Prizes:


Past Annual Dinner Presentations

61st Annual Dinner “Innovation has a Location”
September 12th, 2013
Debra Kaye

60th Annual Dinner “Reveal”
Date:  October 11, 2012
Keynote Address:  Daniel Burrus | Founder and CEO, Burrus Research Associates

59th Annual Dinner “Exposed”
Date:  October 11, 2011
Starring:  Vita Plus, Madison Investment Advisors, JP Hair Design, Kelly Moss Motor Sports, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
Entertainment provided by:  UW Marching Band
MC:  Rebecca Ryan | President, Next Generation Consulting

58th Annual Dinner “Why And How Even the Most Intelligent Cities Are Developing 20/20 Foresight”
Date: October 7, 2010
Keynote Address: Dr. Colin Harrison | Director of IBM’s Corporate Strategy Team, Creator of the “Smart Cities” initiative at the IBM Research Lab in Zurich, Switzerland

57th Annual Dinner
Date: October, 2009
Keynote Address: Thomas Jacob “Jake” Leinenkugel | President, Leinenkugel Brewing Company

56th Annual Dinner  “A Place Called Wisconsin”
Date: September 16, 2008
Keynote Address: John and Tashia Morgridge | John is Chairman of Emeritus of Cisco Systems.  Tashia is retired teacher and author.

55th Annual Dinner  “Trust in Brands and Business”
Date: October 25, 2007
Keynote Address: Robert A. Eckert | Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Mattel, Inc.

2014 Keynote Speaker

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Steven Johnson: Steven explores the power and the legacy of great ideas, why and how ideas happen, and their sometimes unintended results. Steven’s upcoming book, How We Got to Now, has inspired a six-part PBS series of the same name – scheduled to debut in October. His bestselling book to date, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, was also the subject of his popular TED talk attracting more than 2.6 million views. Steven’s last book, Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age, proposes that a new model of political change is on the rise transforming everything from local government to classrooms to health care. He is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Charlie Rose Show and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Click here for more information on Steven Johnson.


Ticket Cost:

Member Individual Ticket: $125.00
EARLY BIRD PRICE ENDS August 29th: Member Table Price: $1,100  (Table of Ten)

Non-Member Individual Ticket: $150.00
Non-Member Table Price: $1,500 (Table of Ten)


Chicken Dinner
Vegetarian Dinner

*Please note any gluten and allergie preferences

What Others Have Said

  • Kudos to the Chamber and the Small Business Advisory Council for the creation of the Road Construction Survival Guide. It connects the affected businesses with the city departments and the construction company in charge. The regular meetings and contact with the correct people makes a huge difference in coping.

    Teena Browder, Cork ‘n Bottle
  • My small business has a voice in local politics with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, I have a voice here. We’re all business people and we look at the bottom line. The return on investment from my Chamber membership and the advocacy it provides is far above what I get from other organizations.

    Tim Lightner, Owner, Two Men and a Truck
  • The Chamber has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the local business community, and to create and preserve the conditions that allow businesses to thrive, for the good of the entire community. I can think of no organization that is better equipped to guide us through this time than the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and we all owe it our full support, to our mutual benefit.

    David Stark, President, Stark Company Realtors
  • The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has been an excellent resource for my small business. The Chamber provides multiple channels for business awareness, networking opportunities and helpful educational programs. Being a member of the Chamber has really made a difference in helping expand my business visibility, growth and development in Dane County.

    John Vardallas, CAE, Founder/CEO, The American BoomeR Consulting Group