John Noel Welcomed as Keynote Speaker for Sold Out Junior Achievement Fundraiser

Wausau, WI –Three outstanding area business leaders who helped shape our area will be honored this spring at the eleventh annual Champions of Business Dinner established by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. - Northcentral District. A panel of independent judges selected A.P. Woodson, T A Duckworth, and Ronald Nicklaus as the 2019 honorees. In addition to honoring these visionary businessmen, John Noel, local Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, will be joining the celebration as the 2019 Champions of Business keynote speaker.

The dinner on Thursday, May 9 at the City Grill of Jefferson Street Inn sold out in record time, with many area business leaders coming together to honor A.P. Woodson, T A Duckworth, and Ronald Nicklaus and celebrate greatness in Northcentral Wisconsin. Junior Achievement of Northcentral Wisconsin is excited to welcome local entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Noel, as the 2019 keynote speaker.

John M. Noel is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist who has created thousands of jobs in Central Wisconsin.  Over his illustrious career, John served as founder and/or CEO of Travel Guard International, Compass Properties, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Marathon Travel, MultiNational Underwriters, My Assist and Insure America.  

Noel is a native of Wausau and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. After graduating, he took a position with Sentry Insurance, and by the age of 36, Noel was named vice president of Sentry’s International Division.

In 1985, John Noel left his Sentry Insurance to found Travel Guard, a provider of international travel insurance and assistance, which evolved into a worldwide leader.  When Travel Guard was acquired by AIG in 2006, Noel remained as Travel Guard's CEO until 2009.  In 2014, Noel sold MyAssist and Insure America to create Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. He served as its President until May of 2015 when he moved into an executive advisory role.

Throughout his career Noel has earned numerous awards for his business success, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year, State of Wisconsin Exemplary Employer Award, University of Wisconsin Regent Partnership Award and the President’s Award, presented by the Portage County Business Council.  In 2016, Noel was inducted in Junior Achievement Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame. 

John and his wife Patty are committed to initiatives that help children, the disadvantaged and that promote diversity. In 1996, the Noels created The Noel Compass Scholar Program -- a privately funded initiative that provides a full scholarship and paid internship to students of color from Wisconsin’s urban communities. 

In 1993, the Noels established Make A Mark – a nonprofit humanitarian project that funds sustainable building projects in developing countries. The current focus is a cooperative effort with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point called Trees4Children  --an initiative that is growing Melia trees for lumber.  The income generated by the project helps support more than 1,000 HIV/AIDS affected children and elders living in the Nyumbani Village in Kenya.

The Noels also co-founded the Boys and Girls Club of Portage County and are major benefactors of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, including a substantial gift for the renovation of the Noel Fine Arts Center.  The Noels were honored with the Franklin Covey Humanitarian Service Award for their humanitarian efforts and also received honorary Doctorate degrees from their alma mater – the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP).   “John and Patty have changed the world,” said UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson. “I know of no other individuals who live their values on a daily basis more than John and Patty Noel.”

John Noel will join the list of prestigious speakers that have shared their knowledge and inspired attendees at the past Champions of Business events. Past keynote speakers include Dwight Davis, Melanie Holmes, Herman Cain, Dick Johnson, William Hsu, Kevin Hermening, Dave Skogen, Bart Starr, Jr., Bruce Bright, and Ryan Gallagher.

Title sponsor for The 2019 Champions of Business Dinner is Ruder Ware. Reception sponsor is Associated Bank. Other sponsors include E.O. Johnson Business Technologies, Peoples State Bank, The Samuels Group, Greenheck Fan, and M3 Insurance. All proceeds from the event will go to the local Junior Achievement district office, which provides business and economic education programs to area schools.

More than 11,100 Northcentral District kindergarten through 12th grade students participate in JA’s experiential learning programs, which focus on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and workplace readiness. Critical to the success of JA’s approach is the use of community volunteers who use their own job and life experiences to bring the curriculum to life. Ethics, as it relates to business, has always been taught as part of the Junior Achievement curriculum.

The purpose of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Today, Junior Achievement reaches more than 158,000 Wisconsin students annually and ten million students worldwide.