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Painting Pathways

About Painting Pathways

Painting Pathways Clubhouse empowers adults with mental health concerns by supporting recovery, building community and providing hope.

PPC clubhouse ribbon cutting
A Clubhouse is a community of people who are working together toward a common goal: recovery from mental illness. Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will be impacted by mental illness in their lifetime.

We are here to help by supporting those with mental illness in Manitowoc County.

Components of a Clubhouse

Work Day

Members and staff work side by side as colleagues to carry out the tasks that are important to their Clubhouse community.


The Clubhouse offers educational opportunities for members to complete or start certificate degree programs at academic institutions and adult education programs.

employment programs

The Clubhouse provides members opportunities to return to paid employment in integrated work settings.


Safe housing is the right of all members. The Clubhouse helps members access quality housing.

Community Support

Clubhouse members are given help accessing the best quality services in their community.


Part of the daily work of the Clubhouse is keeping track of and being in contact with all active members.

evening, weekend & holiday programs

Members and staff together organize structured and non-structured social activities.

Decision-making & Governance

Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss policy issues and future planning for the clubhouse.

Meet Our Team

Our staff bring different levels of lived experience, education and training

Executive Director Brian Portzen

Brian Portzen

Executive Director

Deena Larsen

Deena Larsen

Program Supervisor

Linda Kerscher

Linda Kerscher

Staff Generalist


Sara Schuetze

Certified Peer Specialist / CCS

Katie Stone

Certified Peer Specialist

Mark Meisner

Program Supervisor

4 person team meeting around a conference table

Board of Directors

Dan Hornung

Board President

Callie Schroeder

Board Vice President

John Stangel

Board Treasurer

Becky Richards

Board Secretary

Gary Keesling

Heather Behnke

Candice Giesen

Maribeth Wester

Robert Bubolz

Collen Wisnicky

Dan Phillips


Painting Pathways Clubhouse has turned my life upside down, in a positive way. Before the clubhouse, I was isolated and I was going down a very dark and dangerous path. I was a lost soul, looking for a purpose in life. Since coming to the clubhouse, I finally feel wanted, appreciated, loved, and, at last, I have the family I’ve been searching for my entire life. What more could anyone ask for?
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Alice M.
Clubhouse Member
Painting Pathways has been a place for me to socialize and be creative.
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Margaret H.
Clubhouse Member
Painting Pathways has helped me find constructive ways of handling my anger.
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Clubhouse Member
The clubhouse helps me cope.
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Olivia G.
Clubhouse Member
For me, Painting Pathways has given me a non-judgmental family in which I am able to share the challenges I face in life. I’ve never had the support of my family, and society has judged me so harshly that I struggle with anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I also face a devastating disease which I focused so much on, that I couldn’t see anything good about myself and felt like I didn’t deserve the good things or loving relationships. Painting Pathways changed my mind and changed my life.
Painting Pathways Logo
Clubhouse Member
Painting Pathways is a community of like-minded individuals who share a common illness and strive to become better people in their struggles in life. Like the spokes in a wheel, which represent the clubhouse members, and the hub being the staff of PPC.
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Clubhouse Member
Acceptance, belonging, friends, responsibilities, hope, guidance.
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Dan P.
Clubhouse Member
Painting Pathways has helped me meet people with some of the same problems and be able to talk about them openly.
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Clubhouse Member
Painting Pathways has been a fun/safe place I can socialize and be productive. I enjoy the environment and fun spirit here. It has really helped in a lot of aspects of my life.
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Clubhouse Member
I enjoy coming here and doing some work for others. I also like their dinner very much. I am 80 years old, and it gives me something to do.
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Glenn P.
Clubhouse Member

Brian Portzen

Brian was born and raised in Manitowoc. He went on to graduate from the UW -Madison and worked for 35 years in government, primarily in St. Paul, Minnesota. He joined Painting Pathways Clubhouse as Executive Director in 2022. He defines his 35-year career as bringing care, compassion and meaningful services to those who have been labeled and mistreated by society.

Brian is an advocate of increasing access to helping relationships for those that need it. Specifically, Brian is dedicated to bringing peer led mental health programming and services to Manitowoc County in an effort to increase the quality of mental health services to those that need it.

During Brian’s 35 years in government service, he was involved in providing, developing and supervising programming in juvenile corrections. In addition, Brian was involved in Juvenile Justice Reform, specifically being part of the Annie E Casey Juvenile Detention Reform Alternative Initiative (JDAI). The result of that work was the reduction of the use of juvenile detention, reform of the juvenile detention practices, and in providing mental health services and programming to all youth who were incarcerated. 

Brian graduated from the National Institute of Corrections Executive Excellence program. 

The success of these reforms were due to the use of data based decisions and practices and community engagement. Brian brings those practices to his work at Painting Pathways Clubhouse in Manitowoc County. 

Brian resides in Two Rivers with his wife. In his free time, he enjoys nature, bicycling, photography and listening to music.

Deena Larsen enjoying a forest snowfall

Deena Larsen​

Deena Larsen has lived in Manitowoc for over 50 years. She is a graduate of Lincoln High School, has a Bachelor’s Degree from UW-Madison and a Master’s Degree from UW-Milwaukee. Deena is married with two grown children. She spent half of her career in Two Rivers and the other half in Manitowoc. In addition to working as a teacher, she also worked as an assistant principal, Dean of Students, and interim principal. After her education career she served in the AmeriCorps as a Farm to School Specialist.

When asked about Painting Pathways, Deena said, “There is such a need for the PPC community in Manitowoc County. I am thrilled to be working here in my role as the Program Director.

Deena is an avid gardener, writer, and bicyclist. She enjoys taking sunrise pictures over Lake Michigan.

Linda Kerscher

Linda Kerscher

Linda Kerscher is a native of Manitowoc County. Born and raised in the country, and living her adult life in the city of Manitowoc. After graduating Lincoln High School, Linda continued working and traveling the country. Linda’s proudest accomplishment is fulfilling the role of “mom”. The decision for their boys to attend Catholic School allowed ample opportunity for volunteering. Her involvement as a volunteer not only gave hands on time with her two sons, but also created strong relationships with many of the families.

Working side by side for over 15 years really set the foundation for her role at Painting Pathways. While fundraising is a huge part of what she does, getting members involved is the most important challenge. Teaching new life skills, or helping accomplish goals through daily tasks is not only rewarding, but a boost in confidence for them. Linda also completed training in QPR Prevention training- (question, persuade, refer), Drug Identification and Recognition Training, Food Safety Course Training and also attended several educational conferences throughout the years.

Some of Linda’s favorite things are hanging at the beach and collecting Mother Nature’s bounty, walking, bike riding, dancing and singing to all the greatest music, but most of all- sharing her best stories with anyone willing to join in her journey.

Sara with Cat

Sara Schuetze

Sara was born and raised in Manitowoc, spending most of her working career at the Manitowoc Public School District. As the result of lived experiences, Sara’s concern for mental health resources in our area found her joining the Painting Pathways Clubhouse staff.

Her goal is to be of support to those navigating their journey through mental health recovery, as well as being a support to loved ones who are affected. Sara feels very passionately and fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of an organization with such an important mission.

Cody Richards

My name is Cody, he/him. I am starting my last year in my undergrad at UWGB for Social Work, with an emphasis in Substance Abuse. My hope is to continue on to my graduate degree immediately following my BSW and obtain a master’s in social work by May of 2024.

On the professional side of things, I work in the Manitowoc County Jail as a substance abuse counselor. There I facilitate groups, provide one on one substance use therapy, as well as connect individuals with resources and services in the communi-ty prior to being released. Before that, I worked as a peer support specialist with many organizations in the community such as Lighthouse Recovery Community Center, CORE Treatment Center, and ABLE RCO to name a few. During this time, I worked with the county as a CCS provider, working with individuals to help them navigate the system in order to achieve their chosen goals.

I have been happily married for almost two years now. We have a nine-year-old daughter and two rescued dogs. We also foster dogs with a local rescue. I realized I had a passion to help others after I was discharged from the US Army and found myself looking for my purpose in life. In order to get to where I am today, I too had to address substance use concerns and mental health challenges that affected my relationships, jobs and self-esteem.

I hope to bring to this organization some experi-ence working with clients and serving the community. I hope to gain some value in understanding how organizations run, as well as the way organizations fit in with the larger community. By doing this, I feel that we will be able to add value to the community and expand programming to ensure that inclusion is offered to individuals which the organization serves.

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