Sandi Stroessner Van Sistine’s volunteer work has enriched the Green Bay area community in unique, varied and positive ways.
Sandi grew up in Port Washington, Wisconsin, as the middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother. Her involvement with the arts began early, as she recruited her seventh grade classmates to help write and produce the first school newsletter, “The Blab.” In high school, Sandi organized a senior class talent show, a fundraiser for scholarships for students. Sandi’s parents only had an eighth grade education, yet supported her college aspirations and creative talents. Her father thought college was important and her mother supported and encouraged her artistic talents. Sandi married Gary Van Sistine in 1967 and raised three children: Tori, Brennen and Darren, her “best creations.” She obtained a degree in communications starting at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and finishing at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. Her professional career within the fields of marketing and advertising included being an accomplished writer for both television, radio and print. Sandi worked as assistant public relations director for St. Norbert College in De Pere, in the early 1990’s and as marketing director for the YWCA, Green Bay, and the YMCA, Sturgeon Bay.
Sandi’s talents and appreciation of the arts led her to create a place for the arts to grow in Green Bay. She founded the ARTgarage in March 2006, offering an exciting new arts venue for the community. The ARTgarage is a space where creative expression grows. Situated in a developing and diverse neighborhood, it is an extension of Sandi’s outlook on our community — open to all, regardless of economic or educational background. The ARTgarage encourages appreciation of and participation in the visual, performing and literary arts. It includes a gallery, artists studios, class and workshop space. The impact of the ARTgarage can be measured by the number of community groups who have chosen to hold their events in the gallery and take advantage of art classes, exhibitions and monthly ‘coffee house style’ entertainment that features performances by emerging and established artists. Sandi spearheaded the formation of Cedar Center Arts Inc., a 501c3 organization that does work at the ARTgarage, looking to provide community educational opportunities in the arts. She won the Spirit of Olde Main Street Award from the Olde Main Street business organization for her help in organizing and promoting Gallery Night and Gallery Night ARTfest in 2007, to link neighboring art businesses.
Sandi’s energy is tireless – she both dreams the dreams and then does ‘the grunt work’ to make the dream a reality. She has given enormous amounts of her talents and time to pioneer programs and events which benefit the artistic, the spiritual and the social needs of our community. Her leadership was influential in the success of many charitable organizations in developing programs and fundraising events for the N.E.W. Arts Council, the Girls Scouts and the YWCA’s Women of Vision program. Sandi was a tireless worker and instrumental in building the success of the Art Street festival, which brings tourists to Green Bay from all over the midwest. Her leadership extends to outreach ministries of her church, First United Church of Christ, where she led many youth groups, organized mission trips to West Virginia to feed poor children, repair homes and organized groups to go to Biloxi, MS, to help in Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts.
Sandi’s passion is helping people by offering positive support and making a place for everyone. Her message is reflected in a paraphrased quote by Frederick Buechner: “Your calling is where your greatest joy intersects with the needs of the world.”