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New Leaders Council

2018 Madison Fellows

Meet the 2018 Madison Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)

Hannah Akbik

Finance Director, State Senate Democratic Committee

Madison_Hannah_Akbik_-_Patty_Schachtner.jpgHannah currently works as the Finance Director for the State Senate Democratic Committee. In this role Hannah works with both candidates and incumbents. In addition to managing fundraising and compliance for the committee, she provides financial resources and expertise to run successful campaigns, through supporting finance operations, implementing digital programs, and assisting with field work. Hannah got her start in politics as an undergraduate interning for State Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling and Tammy Baldwin for Senate, and worked as the Finance Director for County Executive Joe Parisi.

In her free time, she spends her time volunteering for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) as a helpline advocate and career consultant. As a volunteer at DAIS she works with victims of domestic violence to provide resources, safety planning, and support. Additionally, she works with shelter residents on resume and cover letting writing, interview prep and answers questions related to personal finance.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Communication Arts. As a student, Hannah was the founder and president of I Am That Girl: UW-Madison Chapter, which is an organization that promotes raising the standard of how women treat themselves and interact with each other through physical, emotional, and mental health. Additionally, she served as a student representative and spent several years serving on the board of the Optima Dance Club.

Hannah hopes to continue a career in public service and feels passionately about having a positive impact on her community.


Rachel Baldwin

Program Assistant, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association

Madison_Rachel_Baldwin_-_Rachel_Baldwin.jpgRachel Baldwin received her BA in Gender and Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2016. She is passionate about women's issues. She spent her final year at UW studying sex trafficking. As an intern with the Wisconsin Women's Council, she studied sex trafficking in Native communities in Wisconsin and wrote a research papers on her findings. After that project, she went to Spain with UW faculty and students to study sex trafficking in Spain. She hopes to someday make meaningful change in Wisconsin to help reduce trafficking and violence against women.

Rachel has also been an advocate for her tribe, the Brothertown Indian Nation. Rachel wants to increase awareness about non-recognized tribes and the disenfranchisement they face. She also hopes to raise the profile of Native communities in the state.

She currently works at the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA). At PCNA she has the opportunity to work on grants, marketing, and membership. As a native Wisconsinite, she will continue to advocate for her community and create a more equitable state.


Emma Bukowski

Legislative Assistant, Wisconsin State Assembly

Madison_Emma_Bukowski_-_Emma_Bukowski.JPGEmma Bukowski works as a Legislative Aid for the Wisconsin State Assembly where she manages constituent contacts and casework. Prior to working in politics, Emma was a Youth Employment Counselor at Briarpatch Youth Services where she developed and facilitated individual and group trainings for youth and adults to teach employment and social-behavioral skills, provide employment experience, and provide post-secondary education resources. Emma received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she majored in Chinese Language and received a certificate in Global Health. Her passion for learning about languages, people, and culture led her to study abroad twice in Tianjin, China. Later, she deferred her junior year of university and accepted a position at a Chinese kindergarten teaching English. When she returned home, she co-founded a non-profit, Merry-Go-Strong (MGS). It’s mission was to improve the overall well-being of Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya by partnering with grassroots organizations to foster social and economic growth. She then traveled to Kenya where she met with different women in the community and collected their stories, personal goals, and ideas to improve their overall well-being. Emma also received her yoga instructor certification through Breathe for Change. She hopes to attend graduate school in the fall to get her Master’s in Public Health.


Grace Colás

Legislative Aide, Wisconsin State Assembly

Madison_Grace_Colás_-_Grace_Colás.jpgGrace Colás currently works as chief of staff and legislative aide to State Rep. Dave Considine, representing the 81st Assembly District. She began her career in politics and government in 2012 as a legislative intern for Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison before becoming the deputy finance director at the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee in 2013. Born in Milwaukee and raised in Madison by a family with strong progressive beliefs, Grace has always held an interest in gender disparities and social movements. She pursued this interest in college, studying Gender & Women’s Studies and Spanish at UW-Madison. As a student, she also co-chaired UW-Madison Advocates for Choice. Today, Grace proudly contributes to her community as a volunteer for a number of outstanding organizations. She is currently the secretary of the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and a facilitator for the GameChangers, the youth advisory board of the Dane County Rape Crisis Center. She has also previously served as a board member and committee co-chair for Wisconsin Women in Government. Prior to beginning her career in government, she worked throughout college as a ballet teacher for 3-9 year-olds. (It remains the most fun job she’s ever had.) In her free time, Grace enjoys weight lifting, learning about the fashion and beauty industries, traveling, and spending time with her family and partner.


Megan Diaz


Megan Diaz is a current undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is pursuing a degree in Sociology. She will graduate in Spring of ‘18. She aspires to apply to Law School at UW-Madison with a dual degree in Social Work. As the daughter and granddaughter of a Chicano migrant farm workers, she credits her passions to her grandmother who was a labor organizer for migrant farm worker rights in Wisconsin. Megan would like to pursue a career working in law and policy to help advocate for marginalized student voices in the education system as well as oppressed immigrant groups in Wisconsin and beyond. Megan currently holds the position as facilitator for Natural Circles of Support, a group that aims to help youth of color in schools have a space to unpack issues of identity, racism, oppression, and discrimination within the education system and greater society. She currently works with 60 Latinx identified young womxn each week. Megan is also a mother and advocate for her s

on who has special needs. She wants to fervently work to protect children with special needs in educational institutions. Her son has challenged her to advocate for the many silenced voices, while being cognizant of centering the voices of those she aims to advocate for. Megan enjoys spending time with her family and cooking pozole, amongst other traditional Mexican dishes. She is also a dog lover and has a rescue Schnauzer mix named Theodore.

Mary Jane Giesey

Senior Research Analyst, NORC at the University of Chicago

Madison_Mary_Jane_Giesey_-_Mary_Jane_Giesey.jpgMary Jane Giesey is a health policy researcher with a focus on policies and programs that provide health care and support services for lower-income Americans, people with disabilities, and older adults. She is currently a Senior Research Analyst at NORC, a nonprofit, independent research institution. She grew up in southeast Ohio and attended Grinnell College in Iowa, where she studied English and Global Development Studies. She completed a Master of Public Health degree in Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in graduate school she conducted research on variations in the cost and quality of health care in the U.S., worked at a health plan analyzing Medicare and Medicaid policy, and volunteered at a free clinic, talking to patients about potential options for affordable health insurance. Mary Jane moved to Washington, D.C. to work at NORC after completing her MPH. While there she also volunteered at a local nonprofit that provides transitional housing and other services to individuals experiencing homelessness. In 2017, Mary Jane and her husband (a Wisconsin native she met at Grinnell College) decided to make one last move—to Madison. She is proud to now call Madison home and looks forward to continuing to get to know the community and its wonderful people. Eventually she hopes to work with others in the state to improve the lives of Wisconsinites through creative, cross-sector health and social policy.


Kianna Goodwin

Advocate, Rape Crisis Center

Madison_Kianna_Goodwin_-_Kianna_Goodwin.jpgKianna is currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin –Madison. She decided to pursue her degree after working for several years an advocate for survivors sexual assault and domestic violence at local Madison organizations. Before that, she lived and traveled abroad for three years in Vietnam, India and China. One of her most memorable work experiences was doing research on laws and protections for women and minorities in Goa, India. She worked with an amazing team who supported people on the ground documenting instances of discrimination and atrocities. She is active in Madison community and enjoys advocating for victim rights, racial and social justice. In colder months she enjoys going back to her hometown of Los Angeles to visit her family and the ocean.


Anna Gouker

Community activist

Madison_Anna_Gouker_-_Anna_Gouker.jpgAnna is a veracious community activist, passionate about the inclusion of all in roles of leadership. Over the last three years, she has been dedicated to assisting adults with disabilities in achieving their personal and professional goals at the Madison non-profit Employment Resources, Inc. Anna holds a Master’s of Science degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from UW-Madison. Prior to joining the ERI team, Anna gained experience in counseling and developed an extensive knowledge in community resources. She interned at several other non-profits including Chrysalis and Community Living Alliance. Her passion for disability advocacy led to her position on the Board of Directors at Disability Pride Madison as well as her tenure as Co-Vice Chair on the City of Madison Disability Rights Commission.


Michael Horecki

Public Relations Representative, AFSCME Wisconsin

Madison_Michael_Horecki_-_Michael_Horecki.jpgFrom Eau Claire, Michael Horecki went to school at Grinnell College. After finishing school, Michael developed a strong interest in politics while serving as campaign manager in 2012 for Rachel Bly, a candidate for Iowa State House, in one of the most contested races in the state. After completing that campaign he took his skills to Michigan where he helped build a coalition which assumed a super-majority on the Ann Arbor City Council. From there he took on a congressional race in West Michigan.

Michael currently serves as the Public Relations Representative for AFSCME Wisconsin. In that role he is responsible for advocating on behalf of Wisconsin public sector employees. He has also worked at the public relations firm Weber Shandwick in Washington DC where he represented national and international clients, including the United States Postal Service.
Michael is passionate about fighting for working people and determining how to use government as an instrument for good. Working in small-town Iowa brought home the challenges faced in rural communities. He is especially passionate at attempting to improve communications for urban organizations who struggle to have their message resonate with non-urban constituencies.

Outside of work, Michael is passionate about trying new restaurants, playing board games with friends and spending time traveling with his wife.


Nick Hwang

Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Madison_Nick_Hwang_-_Nick_Hwang.jpgNick Hwang, PhD. is a composer, artist, and interactive programmer. He currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Media Arts and Game Development program, where his research includes video game and mobile application development, tangible interfaces, and interactivity design.

His creative work, which often focuses on community and inclusion, has been performed and shown throughout the United States and across Europe including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, International Tuba Euphonium Conference, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, the International Computer Music Conference, the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States, the New Instruments of Musical Expression, the International Society of Improvised Music, the International Society of Electronic Art, and the International Arts Educators Forum among others. He also served as a panelist for the Fulbright Science and Technology Conference in 2013.

Nick was selected as a 2017 semi-finalist in the highly competitive Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition hosted by Georgia Tech for his new instrument invention called the AEMI (Actuated Embedded Musical Instrument).

Born in Taiwan, Nick immigrated to the United States with his family as a child. He later lived in the Midwest and the South before moving to Wisconsin to join the UW-W faculty in 2015. Nick’s role as an academic and teacher provides him with the opportunity to engage students to think critically and explore the world around them.

Throughout the years, Nick has volunteered with various community and faith-based organizations, including as a mentor for the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, as a coach for the Louisiana State University women’s and men's ultimate frisbee teams, and has served on the board for a number of arts organizations. He is active in First United Methodist Church of Madison and is working with a student-faculty collaborative to design a mobile device app to assist homeless youth in accessing resources in the Madison community.

Nick lives in Madison with his wife, Olivia Hwang. He also plays on Madison Ultimate Frisbee Teams.


Alex Joers

Legislative Aide, Wisconsin State Legislature

Madison_Alex_Joers_-_Alex_Joers.jpgBorn and raised in the Madison area, Alex always had a passion for politics. Starting from a very young age, Alex followed electoral politics and was inspired by the possibilities of civic engagement. Alex began his community leadership by organizing Blood Drives with the American Red Cross year round. At the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Alex participated in many student government organizations including the Student Association and the National Residence Hall Honorary, where pushed for social justice initiatives, expanded access and influence for the student body, and coordinated major community service projects throughout the Coulee Region. After graduating from UW-L with a dual degree in Political Science and Public Administration, Alex began working in the State Legislature for Senator Jennifer Shilling and Representative Melissa Sargent, fighting to move Wisconsin forward with progressive policy solutions. During the 2016 campaign, Alex worked on fundraising for the State Senate Democratic Committee before joining Senator Julie Lassa’s campaign in Stevens Point. Outside of politics, Alex assists in operating his family’s small business: The Little Gym. Alex has gained valuable business, leadership and management insight through being a part of an international franchise that promotes children’s health, fitness and confidence. Alex is currently a Legislative Aide for Assembly Assistant Democratic Leader Dianne Hesselbein, where he assists with leadership administration, constituent outreach and legislative research.


Molly Jones

Research Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison - Center for Patient Partnerships

Madison_-_Molly_Jones.jpgMolly Jones is a Madison native who is committed to working to further progressive values in her local community and the state of Wisconsin. Currently, Molly is a Research Specialist at the Center for Patient Partnerships (CPP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Molly works on CPP’s National Initiatives Research Team on qualitative and mixed-method research projects focused on patient engagement and patient experience. The goal of this research is to amplify patients’ voices to shape health care systems and policies. After attending the University of Wisconsin for her undergraduate degree and serving as an AmeriCorps member in Madison at the Elver Park Neighborhood Center and Common Wealth Development, Molly returned to the University to earn her Masters in Social Work with a focus on Health Policy and Administration and Community Development. As part of her fieldwork, Molly worked at the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association as a member of the Policy and Government Relations team where she organized advocacy efforts, analyzed healthcare and social policies, and developed communication strategies for Community Health Centers in Wisconsin. Molly also did fieldwork in the Community Development Division at the City of Madison where she created community-based youth development programming and led a city-wide analysis of barriers to out-of-school time programming for elementary aged youth as identified by caregivers, parents, and community members. One of Molly’s true joys of graduate school was her role as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate and graduate courses in Social Policy and Social Sciences Research Methods. Molly loves to teach and facilitate conversations, both in and out of the classroom, that allow people to explore their own ideas about the world, examine the lenses through which they see the world, and learn through conversation. Molly is passionate about infusing research, education, and advocacy with health care policy, particularly around women’s health, equitable practices in health care for minors, and racial equity. Woefully, Molly was not named after the Beatles song, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, but to her delight the coincidence has resulted in a lifetime of strangers bursting out in song or inquiring about her singing career and/or how Desmond is doing lately.


Nela Kalpic

Constituent Relations and Policy Research Aide, Wisconsin State Senate

MADISON_Nela_-_Nela_Kalpic.JPGNela Kalpic resides in Madison, Wisconsin, originally hailing from Belgrade, Serbia and having lived 12 years in Kuwait and Egypt prior to immigrating to the US. Nela is a 2017 graduate of the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute and Wisconsin Women in Government program. Nela is 2017 Governors Courage Award recipient. Courage Award honors a survivor who has turned adversity into triumph by creating positive change within his/her community to end domestic abuse. Throughout her life, Nela has overcome countless obstacles. She has lived in and escaped multiple war-torn countries, knowing that freedom from these countries also meant that she would have the protections to escape an abusive marriage. She now works everyday to make Wisconsin a better place for survivors and their children. Nela participates on a survivor panel, providing testimony about her experiences at a training of new domestic violence advocates and volunteers at Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). She also participates in a survivor advisory group at DAIS and sits on the Dane County Commission on Sensitive Crimes. Her colleagues report that her insights are invaluable and her passion is contagious. She is working at the office of Senator Jennifer Shilling as a Constituent Relations and Policy Research Aide and is researching ways Wisconsin state law might be changed to address situations where children witness abuse. Nela has also been appointed by the Governor Scott Walker to serve on the Governor's Council on Domestic Abuse.


Kaitlin Marquardt

Madison_Kaitlin_Marquardt_-_Kaitlin_Marquardt.jpgKaitlin is a software developer and scientist committed to improving the health of individuals who’ve experienced trauma and adversity. She is a 4th generation Wisconsinite from Rhinelander and has a BS in Biochemistry and a Masters in Computational Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As an undergraduate, she was social outreach chair for the UW-Madison Chapter of Engineering World Health, an organization that develops innovative solutions for medical equipment in developing countries. Through EWH, she coordinated a research trip to Belize and led a volunteer medical mission trip to Honduras. As a trainee in Computation and Informatics in Biology and Medicine, Kaitlin worked on predictive models at the intersection of genetics and the environment in the immune system. After graduate school, she worked for a population health startup as a software developer specializing in data analysis and visualization.

Her current passion is developing software that empowers people to use their own data to learn and make decisions that align with their goals. Named after her nickname Cakelin, Cake will help equalize social capital and life skills for marginalized people, while capitalizing on their strengths. Kaitlin is a member of Madison Women in Tech, Doyenne Group (Women Entrepreneurs) and the 2017 Social Good Accelerator. Continuing her work in teaching science, math and technology over the past 10 years, Kaitlin is a tutor at YWeb. Run through the YWCA, YWeb is a software development bootcamp for women and people of color. Kaitlin’s favorite thing is to hang out with her rescued greyhound Franklin, who she trained as her service dog through Custom Canine’s Owner Trainer Academy. She also enjoys yoga, sewing, writing and skiing - just not at the same time!


Laura Minero

Teaching Assistant and Research Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison

MADISON_MineroBio_-_LAURA_MINERO-MEZA.jpgLaura Patricia Minero, M.A. is currently a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology department at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Pre-doctoral Ford Foundation Fellow. As an undocumented, queer, muxer of color, advocate and social justice researcher, Laura has a passion for examining how policy impacts the lived experiences of undocumented immigrant and LGBTQ+ communities in hopes of being able to identify how to better-serve these populations through more inclusive implementation of policy and distribution of services. Laura was awarded a research grant from the Latino Center for Leadership Development through SMU’s John Goodwin’s Tower Center for Political Studies to study the impact of detention proceedings and solitary confinement of Latinx UndocuTrans populations. She has co-authored various publications in peer reviewed journals including a first author publication in the Hispanic Journal of Behavior Sciences titled “The influence of immigrant status, country of origin, and ethnicity on juror decisions: An aversive racism explanation of bias.” She also serves as the Research Coordinator for Dr. Carmen Valdez’s research study that examines the impact of anti-immigrant legislation (i.e., SB1070) on the lives of immigrant’s families in Phoenix, AZ. Laura is a co-founder for DREAMERS of UW-Madison, Student Representative for the National Latina/o Psychological Association and North Central Regional Advocacy Coordinator for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Advocacy Coordinating Team. Laura was featured on Fusion for her advocacy work related to campus sanctuaries having co-written one of the first campus sanctuary petitions to be circulated nationwide by-which various other petitions were modeled after Trump was elected President. These efforts lead to direct collaboration with the chancellor and university administration to develop policies that directly protect undocumented and international students. She was appointed by the university chancellor to serve on the Advisory Council on Immigration and International Student Issues to support the legal and safety needs of undocumented students, staff, and faculty under eminent risk for deportation under a Trump administration and xenophobic executive orders. Laura co-founded and developed the first support group at a local elementary school for undocumented and Latinx youth and arranged to have different leaders in the community to serve as role models for youth that were feeling like their future felt uncertain and hopeless for themselves and their families under a Trump presidency. In the last year alone, she has been invited to speak to over 200 undocumented, immigrant, first generation, and Latinx youth in Madison and surrounding school districts in hopes of motivating youth to persevere in the face of obstacles they might encounter in pursuit of their dreams. She has also trained Madison Police Department new recruits on working with undocumented and Latinx populations, trained faculty, staff and administration nationwide on working with undocumented students, and serves as a consultant providing non-profit and state entities with workshops and trainings on story-telling, racial equity, and cultural responsiveness. Laura was the recipient of the 2017 Alix Olson Award for the Promotion of a Tolerant and Just Community in recognition of being “an outspoken advocate; leading marches, giving presentations, meeting with lawmakers, taking interviews so that a broad audience may hear and learn of the concerns around DACA.” Laura actively participates in city council meetings providing testimonies for city ordinances, engages with her senators and congress members advocating for a comprehensive, humane and inclusive immigration reform and most recently spent an entire week in Washington D.C. advocating for a Clean Dream Act to be passed alongside United We Dream. Laura aspires to gain experience in public policy and hopes to someday serve as a senator or representative of United States Congress to implement science informed and evidenced-based legislation that is inclusive, humane, and equitable.


Andrea Niño de Guzman Ramirez

Research Assistant, School of Medicine and Public Health

MadisonIMG_6243_-_andrea_nino.jpgAndrea Niño de Guzman Ramirez was born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. She enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Madison where she found a passion for serving the Latino community having experienced first hand the disparities immigrants and Latinos face. Andrea served as the Co-Chair of the Professional Association of Latinos for Medical School Access working towards access and opportunities for underrepresented minority students aspiring to succeed in health fields. Through her undergraduate career Andrea worked alongside the Latino Health Council to target some of the most pressing healthcare barriers affecting Latinos in the Dane county area. During her last year as an undergraduate at UW Madison, Andrea was awarded the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship, which provides the funding necessary for students to implement a community project. Working alongside Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron, Andrea implemented a community project in which hairdressers served as the liaison of information for breast cancer recourses. The goal of this project is to explore an already-established community relationship and use the outlet as a way to spread the available resources, thus increasing the use of these resources in the Latino community. The hairdressers are not diagnosing breast cancer, but their role is to encourage a conversation about the topic and have information of available for the culturally appropriate resources in town.

Andrea graduated with a Bachelor in Science in Neurobiology and a degree in Psychology and was elected valedictorian for the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Certificate Class of 2017. Andrea worked in a research setting through her undergraduate career and was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Scholar in the Psychology department. Andrea will return to school to earn a medical degree in hopes of providing first hand medical services for the Latino community. She aspires to continue leading innovative initiatives working alongside leaders and community organizations that focus in increasing access to preventative and vital healthcare services for the Latino community. Moreover, Andrea hopes to lessen the educational gap preventing underrepresented minority students from succeeding in professional fields by implementing systematic changes and serving as a voice for change. A proud Latina immigrant, Andrea hopes to combine her research experience, her advocacy towards equality, and her passion for serving to continue making a difference in healthcare and education for the Latinx community.


Dominique Ricks

Teacher, Verona Area School District

Madison_-_Dominique_Ricks.jpgDominique Ricks knows how to captivate an audience. As a spoken-word poet, playwright, and orator, Dominique was one of the initial recipients of the First Wave Full-Ride Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This $100,000 scholarship is bestowed on students who excel in academics, activism, and artistry, and promotes the ambition of urban artists wanting to excel as scholars.

But getting to UW didn’t come easy for Dominique. Growing up in Baton Rouge, he worked extra jobs throughout high school to add a little money to the family budget, while making sure his younger sibling kept up with their education. His hard work and persistence caught the attention of leaders in the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (BRYC), a non-profit that inspires and challenges under-resourced teens to design and realize bold futures. Through BRYC’s mentoring and tutoring program, Dominique’s ACT score increased 50%.

After graduation, Dominique returned to Louisiana as a seventh grade English teacher. He taught for two years and in this time he was named Teacher of the Year, Louisiana American Graduate and delivered a TED talk describing his vision for education in Louisiana. During his second-year teaching Dominique grew to realize there were issues in education he could never solve as a classroom teacher. He resolved to become a superintendent so that he may one day make decisions that result in all students having equitable access to quality education. Dominique is currently teaching in English in Verona and studying K12 Administration at UW preparing to be a school administrator soon. He plans to continue his education ultimately receiving a doctorate of education and improve our country’s educational system on a larger scale.



Jonathan Solari

Major Gifts Officer, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin

Madison_Jonathan_Solari_-_Jonathan_S.jpgJonathan Solari is the major gifts officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. With a long history of directing social change theater, his passion for healthcare came while collaborating with nurses & unions to use art to save Interfaith Medical Center, a hospital in a historically-marginalized community. His other theatrical works educated West Virginians about water rights, stopped over-development in Istanbul, and supported free speech in Minsk. Upon moving to Wisconsin with his wife, Courtney Nelson, Jonathan worked with United Way of Dane County and WCCN, an organization promoting economic justice in Latin America.


Reginald Thedford

Madison_Reginald_Thedford_-_Reginald_Thedford_Jr.JPGOriginally from St. Louis, Missouri, Reginald Thedford Jr is a current third-year law student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Reginald serves as the Attorney General for the Midwest Black Law Students Association (MWBLSA), where he advocates for the political interests of the African American community in the Midwest Region. During his second year of law school Reginald founded Law And Advocacy for Racial Justice (LAARJ), a student organization dedicated to advocating for the social, political, and economic equity for people of color through community collaboration and grassroots organizing. He is a former student attorney for the Oxford Federal Clinic, where he provided legal assistance to men incarcerated at Oxford Federal Institution on a wide range of issues such as, sentencing reductions, removal of warrants, and ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claims. After his second year of law school, Reginald interned for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked on felony disenfranchisement policy issues, conducted jail condition investigations, and provided parole representation. In his last year of law school, Reginald is continuing his efforts for social change through building his LAARJ advocacy organization, collaborating with local community organizations, and volunteering in the Madison community. In 2015, Reginald received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University, where he served as Student Body President during his senior year; it is during this time Reginald found his passion for social justice. During his term, Reginald launched the It’s On Us Campaign at his University in an effort to prevent campus sexual assault. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Reginald has learned the value of community, service and humility. Rooted in these values, he is motivated to lead by example, striving to treat others with dignity and respect, in hope that his actions will inspire others to pass it forward.


Iliana (Lana) Wood

Community Development Specialist, City of Madison

Madison_Iliana_Wood_-_Iliana_Wood.jpegIliana “Lana” Wood serves as a community development specialist with the City of Madison. Her work supports adult employment and training programs as well as other community development efforts within the city. Originally from Michigan, Lana circled back to the midwest via Dubuque, Iowa after completing her Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. There she served as a Presbyterian pastor and volunteered as Guiding Coalition Chair of the Dubuque Circles Initiative, a grassroots effort to eliminate poverty through building community. This experience led her to pursue her passion, not just for helping individuals, but for addressing systemic issues affecting economic justice. After three and half years of ordained ministry, she entered the community development world with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque as the Project Hope coordinator. In this role she convened nonprofit, government and education partners to increase economic opportunity by promoting college access, career pathways and access to the financial system. Her work to increase financial inclusion included coordinating Bank On Dubuque, expanding Earned Income Tax Credit outreach, and facilitating partnerships to create matched savings accounts for low income families. She has served on the board of IntegrUS Credit Union and OneWheaton, a community of LGBTQ and allied alumni of Wheaton College. Lana is excited to bring all she’s learned from these experiences to her current role with the City of Madison and the ultimate frisbee field as applicable.



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