Heather Wentler

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Doyenne

Heather Wentler

Heather always knew she’d be an educator and in 2009 she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a BA in Elementary Education. With her degree in hand, she set off on her career teaching math and science in Madison Metropolitan School District middle schools. Dream realized. However, conventional classroom settings became increasingly stifling and Heather began looking for an alternative way to teach students that was outside traditional curriculum and used hands-on learning based on life experiences.

Fractal was Heather’s first pivot from the classroom to entrepreneurship. Founded in 2011, Fractal provides STEAM enrichment programming for school-aged participants through self-guided learning activities that connect school lessons to real-life experiences. Fractal was launched as a summer program in conjunction with local community organizations and now hosts evening, weekend and week-long camps throughout the year for 6-13 year-olds. Over 2,000 participants have attended Fractal programming to date. Fractal also hosts professional development for educators to introduce new technology and teaching techniques that foster learning and increase engagement across all levels and learning styles within a classroom.

Next came Madison Soup, a quarterly micro-granting event that’s part of the wider Sunday Soup Network. Madison Soup is a way for Madison-area residents to come together, share a meal, and learn about local programs, projects, entrepreneurial endeavors, or non-profit initiatives. Having pooled their resources via event ticket sales, attendees vote and award a micro-grant to the initiative that they believe will have the greatest positive impact in their community.

By the spring of 2012 Heather was deeply engaged in the Madison entrepreneurial ecosystem but was increasingly frustrated with her experience within the network. Often she was one of a handful of women in a roomful of men, the token female panelist invited speak in order to boost “diversity” while simultaneously being hit on, not taken seriously, and told her startups weren’t “real startups” and what she should do instead.

It was in one of those rooms full of men that Heather met Amy Gannon and the exciting journey of launching Doyenne began. Heather believes all women and girls are strong, independent individuals capable of success if they are given access to the necessary resources – networks, mentors, programs, investors and other funding. Together Heather and Amy created Doyenne. An organization that provides the opportunity to connect with other women entrepreneurs, collaborate and create a better community for everyone, encourage and empower others to live their dreams, and find a network of women who are in each other’s corner no matter what.

Heather serves on the Forward Fest organizing committee, the Forward Technology Conference organizing committee, the Tech Education Alliance, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce & Madison Metropolitan School District Entrepreneur Advisory Committee; she’s a StartingBlock Madison Collaborator, Million Women Mentors, and Sector67 Secretary & Treasurer. Heather is a proud member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce Dane Co, the Business Forum, and Downtown Madison Inc. She serves on various organizing committees, advisory boards, and membership of organizations committed to empowering women and girls. She has tutored at local Middle Schools, mentored students for the Science Symposium, and facilitates the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program at Sennett Middle School in Madison.

Heather lives on the east-side of Madison with her husband Chris. In her free time she enjoys cooking, experimenting in the kitchen, pottery, hiking, watching sports, and bingeing on Netflix.