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Badger Couple Is Growing the Next Generation of Athletes and Advocates

For John Byce ’90, MBA’01 and Pam (Hart) Byce ’90, JD’02, their childhood and young adult experiences were so similar and their lives so parallel, it’s hard to believe their stars didn’t fully align until midlife. After nearly 40 years of similar circles and paths, the couple finally met in 2021 and married in 2023. Their story is heartwarming, but even more heartwarming is their support of one another and their commitment to helping future generations.

Both double Badger alums, John and Pam unknowingly walked the same paths and were only separated by a few degrees of separation their entire lives. They both grew up in Madison, less than a mile apart, and shared childhood friends. Both 1990 graduates of the Wisconsin School of Business, they again lived less than a mile apart and shared college friends but still never crossed paths. After graduation, each left Madison to pursue their childhood dreams. John played professional hockey, starting with the Boston Bruins and scoring in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pam worked for Fortune 500 companies and eventually became a corporate spokesperson, actress, and model in New York City and Los Angeles.

After a decade of success and seeing their childhood dreams come to fruition, each returned to UW–Madison to become proud double Badger grads with their MBA and JD degrees. Again, both were on campus at the same time pursuing their advanced degrees but never meeting.

With his new degree in hand, John pursued his interest in corporate real estate and development, ending up at RBC as an integrated program delivery director. A leader on and off the field, John’s hard work, positive mindset, and athletic talent landed him in the 2020 UW Athletic Hall of Fame for men’s hockey and baseball — an astonishing accomplishment to play two Division I sports in college and earn all-league honors in both. He was also the first player in hockey history to win an NCAA title and then play in the Stanley Cup Final in the same season.

Pam’s entrepreneurial spirit and interest in animal advocacy led her down a trailblazing path where she was ultimately able to merge her passion with her profession by becoming an animal protection attorney. Her efforts include co-founding the Madison-based nonprofit Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims (SAAV), co-teaching the first animal law course at UW–Madison and at the University of Chicago Law School, authoring a legal casebook, and helping launch the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) — the world’s most comprehensive animal law program, where she now serves as the assistant dean and executive director.

As John and Pam settled into their second careers in Madison, they also found their second marriages to each other. Nearly 20 years after they graduated from UW–Madison, the second time around, their three degrees of separation finally became one when they met via mutual friends in 2021. Having been on similar paths and circles of friends for decades, their connection was immediate and serendipitous. Today, the newlyweds live in Middleton, where they share a home with their two dogs, Cricket and Fifa. Their household is busy with four teen and young-adult children in their blended family. Only the youngest still lives at home, but all four children keep John and Pam constantly on the move. Their activities span from professional hockey to collegiate lacrosse and football, down to high school swimming, reflecting an array of sporting commitments that define their family life. Sports passion goes without saying in this family, but another big passion is giving back to their community. Over the years, John has coached and mentored girls and boys hockey players and teams. And as someone who received the UW Big Ten Medal of Honor for being an exceptional student and athlete, John is the perfect role model, helping to grow the next generation of student-athletes.

The former two-sport UW Hall of Famer and professional athlete is a hometown hero in Madison, but for John, the real hero is Pam. Not only did she help grow the animal law movement, but she’s also a true leader in the field, building a better world for animals, and ultimately, a better and more compassionate world for us all. Since CALS’s founding 15 years ago — as the first-of-its-kind comprehensive animal law program — it has helped extend animal law’s reach around the world and fostered a robust community of students, faculty, alumni, and supporters dedicated to animal justice. CALS’s growth and the animal law community is stronger than ever thanks to Pam and the tireless work of animal lawyers and advocates everywhere. As the assistant dean and executive director for CALS, Pam now dedicates her career to educating the next generation of animal law advocates and advancing animal protection through the law.

Together, their support of each other and commitment to growing the next generation of athletes and advocates is an inspiration to many in our Badger community and beyond.

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