Kim Shaller, purchasing manager for Boston Whaler and Judith Zelisko, Brunswick’s vice president for tax, were among the 130 recipients who received the Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award from the Manufacturing Institute for 2019. The committee considered applicants from 101 companies.
Women who work for Brunswick Corp. have won the award for three consecutive years. A reception will be held in Washington, D.C. in April to honor the recipients. Shaller and Zelisko were the only recipients from the recreational boating industry.
“This year marks the third consecutive year that Brunswick has been represented among those chosen for this highly selective award,” said David Foulkes, Brunswick CEO in a statement. “Six Brunswick employees from our manufacturing, engineering and financial teams have been so honored. Further, we are humbled that Brunswick is one of a handful of companies with more than one employee selected this year for this honor.”
Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. Women totaled about 47 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2016, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce.
“With the support of U.S. manufacturers, such as Brunswick, STEP Ahead has become a successful grassroots movement of manufacturers dedicated to overcoming the shared challenges facing the industry, the skills gap, and attracting, retaining, and advancing quality talent,” said Foulkes.
Zelisko earned her JD from Harvard Law School at a point where women comprised only 10 percent of the class, said the Brunswick statement. She leads the Brunswick Corporate Tax Department, responsible for worldwide tax planning and U.S. tax compliance, including all manufacturing operations. She started her career with Brunswick in 1978.
“When the boat industry was significantly impacted by the economic downturn of 2008, Judy and her team diligently pursued tax strategies to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial considerations,” Foulkes said. “Specifically, Judy was instrumental in working with the National Association of Manufacturers Coalition to advocate for an extension of the Net Operating Loss Carryback at the federal level.”
Zelisko’s efforts, Foulkes added, “helped to ensure the continuation, and eventual permanence, of the federal R&D tax credit. Judy supported the extension of the act all 15 times it was challenged, including personally testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of the R&D tax credit, until it was made permanent in 2015.”
Zelisko serves on the Tax Leadership Committee of NAM, is a member and past chairperson of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation Tax Council. She also provides leadership within many other boards and organizations to support the industry. Zelisko was also the first woman elected to be president of the Chicago Chapter of the Tax Executives Institute, a professional organization of 7,000 members globally, and served as TEI’s International President. Zelisko served for many years on the Board of Advisors for the University of Illinois' Masters in Tax degree program.
Zelisko is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she graduated with a BA honors degree in economics and international relations. Zelisko is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
She also serves as president of the Brunswick Foundation, which awards scholarships to the children of Brunswick 's employees. Zelisko also is a founding member of the Brunswick Women’s Network, which is an enterprise-wide effort that provides mentorship and professional development to women within the organization
Kim Shaller joined Boston Whaler in 1993 as part of planned three-month internship, which became a career. Shaller recently earned her bachelor’s degree in supervisory and management from Daytona State College. Shaller has a staff of seven, which includes six buyers and one administrative coordinator. They are responsible for the procurement of all materials and commodities at Boston Whaler.
“Whaler’s increasing sales and rapid growth, reflecting the popularity of the brand as well as the saltwater fishing segment that it serves, have placed more demands on every segment of the operation,” Foulkes said. “Through initiating various process improvements and skillfully leveraging supplier relationships, Kim and her team of purchasing professionals have ensured that Whaler can meet its growth goals, while still delivering significant cost savings and production efficiencies.”
Shaller is also very active within the Whaler “family” as well as the Edgewater community. Shaller has led the planning for the annual Company Picnic and other community outreach events. In 2018, 1,340 employees, family and friends attended the Boston Whaler picnic. The event provided donations to the Edgewater Fire Department – Project Caring, a local toy drive providing prescriptions and transport for those in need in Edgewater; support for a no-bully teen shelter, a no-kill animal shelter, and school supplies for the local science/technology charter school.
Shaller also has co-led the “Boatload of Backpack” program for eight years, collecting school supplies and cash to distribute 160 backpacks full of school supplies to three local elementary schools.