JEFFERSON—Donna Haugom is one of many current examples of upward mobility that can be found at the Jefferson County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Office.
Born in Helenville and now a resident of Jefferson, she has a bachelor of science degree in business administration. In July, she finished her 30th year with the county, serving in many different roles.
“I started in 1992 in the Jefferson County Land and Water Conservation Department, as a secretary, for two years,” she said. “I then went to the clerk of courts, as a Clerk I in traffic, for a year. I then went to parks and emergency management, where I started as the program assistant for both departments.”
It wasn’t long before Haugom advanced to the position of coordinator of emergency management, then became Jefferson County’s director of emergency management.
Haugom is married with five children, eight grandchildren and a menagerie of what she lovingly called, “four granddogs.”
Here is how the woman who is in charge of handling every major emergency and disaster in the county—from tornados to floods—handled the challenge that has become known as Adams Publishing’s “10 Questions” feature.
1. If you weren’t in your current job, what would you most likely be doing with your life to make a living?
“I enjoy solving problems and helping people. I would probably be working for a nonprofit organization.”
2. What are some of your favorite TV shows of all time and why?
“Currently, my most favorite show is ‘The First 48 hours.’ I enjoy watching them solve the crime. I like ‘whodunits’ such as ‘CSI,’ ‘FBI,’ ‘NCIS’ and others. I also enjoy watching football—college and professional, NASCAR truck, Xfinity and cup racing.”
3. What are the top three things you like about living in Jefferson County?
“Friendly people, great family activities, and it’s nicely located between Madison and Milwaukee.”
4. What are the best aspects of being emergency management director and coordinator, and some of the ones that aren’t so great?
“Planning with people, municipalities, schools, first responders and businesses to be able to respond and recover from a disaster. I like helping people, municipalities, schools, first responders and businesses during bad times. Not so great would be getting people to understand that emergencies and disasters do happen here and planning on how to deal with them is a priority.”
5. How did the COVID-19 pandemic change your job?
“It certainly made us busier, with getting personal protective equipment to first responders, long-term care facilities and hospitals during the shortages. It, unfortunately, took away in-person meetings, conferences and other networking opportunities.”
6. What three persons in history would you most like to meet and why?
“Martin Luther King ... I would enjoy agreeing with him on his thoughts on Civil Rights. Theodore Roosevelt ... I admire his many accomplishments and progressive thinking. Princess Diana ... To talk to her about her bravery and her powerful personality; how she became who she was and what more she could have accomplished.”
7. What are some of your favorite foods?
“I think chicken chimichangas are wonderful. Spaghetti is great. I love a good beef tenderloin with mushrooms. Fortunately, I am not a picky eater. I even like leftovers.”
8. What are the top three scariest things that have happened to you on the job in emergency management?
“I went by myself to check on some people who were somewhat cut off because of the flood (of 2008). I started going down the road and realized the water was deeper than I thought and I prayed I could back out of it. I flew in a Blackhawk helicopter—with the doors open. When the flood mitigation program first began in 1995, people would call and threaten me about buying properties in their area.”
9. What outdoor activities do you enjoy?
“At this point in time of my life, I like to sit out on my deck and have a cup of coffee. I enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren.”
10. What are some of your favorite travel destinations, both domestically and internationally?
“Unfortunately, my husband does not like to fly. We have travelled the United States by car. I have never been outside of the U.S. One thing my husband and I would like to do is take a train vacation.”