Thomas H. Schmidt was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, November 22, 1939. He received his diploma at Neenah High School, and after attending Marquette University, Milwaukee, he transferred to University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received a bachelor of science degree (cum laude) in 1962.
His first position after graduation was with Zigman-Joseph Associates, Milwaukee, as account manager. In 1963, he moved to CUNA International, Madison, as projects manager in the public relations department, progressing to director, public relations in 1968. He joined Appleton Mills in 1969 as public relations manager, and in 1976, became executive director followed by president of Wisconsin Paper Council. He retired in June 2002.
Mr. Schmidt became recognized as a leader in promoting the benefits of cooperative industry-wide collaborative programs to benefit the industry. He also led the development of innovated pro-active governmental affairs and public relations programs that defined a new era in industry-regulator relations.
Particularly in the 1990s, he led Wisconsin’s paper industry in a new direction, forming voluntary, cooperative partnerships with governmental regulators that focused on cost effective efforts to move beyond regulatory requirements. Examples are the Pollution Prevention Partnership (P3), 1992; the Green Guarantee, 1995; and Wisconsin Paper Council Environmental Management System, 1998. These successful efforts serve as a model for other states and other industries.
Memberships include Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI); Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA); Public Relations Society of America; and the American Society of Association Executives. He serves as a director of Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin; Great Lakes Forestry Alliance; and on Governor’s Council on Forestry.
He was the first recipient of the Paper Industry Management Association’s Vision 300 award, recognizing the individual who has done the most to raise the image of the paper industry and educate the general public about the industry’s role in North American business and culture.
Mr. Schmidt and his wife, Darlene, have a son, Chris, and a daughter, Terri.