MADISON, WI. DEC 9, 2019 – Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Vice President for International Business Development Katy Sinnott has received the Anthony J. Gradisnik Award from the Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers (WAFLT) in recognition of her contributions and service to the study of world languages in Wisconsin and across the country.
The award recognizes enthusiasm and advocacy for language education in areas such as international education, early language learning, and creative initiatives in language education, especially in individuals and groups outside the language teaching profession.
In her role at WEDC, Sinnott is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to grow Wisconsin’s economy through helping Wisconsin companies expand their exports and through attracting foreign direct investment in Wisconsin.
Sinnott represented WEDC during the creation of the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative, a strategic planning document meant to enhance Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness and to meet workforce and community demands for language and cultural competencies. She also had an instrumental role in designing the Wisconsin Language Summit, a collaborative working meeting of representatives from the business, government, community and education sectors.
Prior to joining WEDC in 2014, Sinnott had more than 20 years of business management and financial services experience, including work in more than 40 countries. Her experience included running a chain of hair salons in China and working as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co., as well as several positions in Hong Kong with HSBC Ltd.
Sinnott holds a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. After college, she was awarded a Yale University scholarship to attend the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she completed a nine-month intensive studies course in Mandarin. She is conversant in Chinese and French.
“Foreign language and cultural competency skills are of significant benefit to our Wisconsin companies, as these skills always make it easier to do business in another country,” Sinnott said.
WAFLT has presented this award since 1998, in commemoration of Gradisnik’s enthusiasm and advocacy for language education. Through a comprehensive slate of initiatives, including outreach to K-12 language programs, support of undergraduate students and advocacy for language education, the Language Institute exemplifies the values Gradisnik demonstrated over the years.
Tony Gradisnik was a foreign language supervisor in Milwaukee for decades. He started the German Immersion School and was its staunch supporter even after retirement. Along with partner Frank Grittner, he helped create the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language, and was its executive secretary for several years. He also was one of the founders of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and served on its board for years.
The Gradisnik family created the Gradisnik award at WAFLT to honor his contributions and commitment to second language teaching.