Dr. Robert Kraig Executive Director (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; M.A. University of Georgia; B.A. University of Pittsburgh). Over the past 16 years, Robert has played a significant role in the Wisconsin public policy arena. Robert is a leading strategist in the Wisconsin progressive movement, and is especially known for developing innovative approaches to strategic communication and issue campaign design and implementation. Robert is leading in the development of new progressive communications models which are more effective and fully integrate traditional organizing with earned, social, and new media strategies. Robert frequently appears in Wisconsin media on health care and economic issues. He has also appeared on major national and international media outlets such as Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, and many syndicated radio programs, and has been quoted in national newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, Washington Post, The American Prospect, The Atlantic, and Mother Jones. He is also a regular panelist on the local PBS television program International Focus. Robert also periodically teaches graduate classes at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, most recently teaching a Ph.D Seminar in Spring 2014 (Communications 973: The Rhetorical Turn in American Politics). In October of 2011 Robert was one of the recipients of the Citizen Leadership Award from the Campaign for America’s Future. In January of 2009 Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers, presented Robert with its "Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award." Also in 2009, the Wisconsin State Assembly gave Robert a special citation for his work in promoting health care reform in Wisconsin. In 2007 Kraig shared, with his colleague Matt Brusky, the "Progressive Innovation Award" from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. He is also a policy expert, authoring fifteen reports. Robert is the author of several major academic articles on American political rhetoric and a well-regarded book, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost World of the Oratorical Statesman (Texas A&M Press). The book topped a Wall Street Journal list of the five best books on presidential rhetoric. From 1999-2005 he was the Wisconsin Political Director for SEIU, where he helped develop and win the passage of several policy innovations which enabled over twelve thousand low- wage workers to form unions. He grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and has lived in Wisconsin since 1989.
Matthew Brusky University). Over the past 15 years, Matt has played a leading role in devising and implementing cutting-edge civic engagement strategies that increase voter participation in our democracy. Matt also leads in the development and implementation of innovative social media strategies that are integrated into traditional organizing and civic engagement programs. Matt hosts Citizen Action's weekly podcast, Battleground Wisconsin, which features the latest progressive news from Wisconsin. The 3-year-old podcast has built a statewide audience and produced nearly 200 shows. In 2007 Matt shared (with his colleague Robert Kraig) the "Progressive Innovation Award" from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. In 2004 Matt won the “Forty Under 40” award from the Milwaukee Business Journal, which recognizes up and coming professionals. Before Citizen Action, Matt worked for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, where he was Field Director. He was the Deputy Political Director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Wisconsin State Council from 2000-2005. Matt helped found and lead Milwaukee's Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition which spearheaded historic campaigns to establish job standards for large economic development projects in Milwaukee. The organization merged with Citizen Action in 2009. Matt was raised in Milwaukee and went to Marquette University High School.
Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer (B.A. Marquette University, M.S.A.E. Candidate, Marquette University). Kevin is an organizing entrepreneur, who in his nearly four years at Citizen Action has pioneered in the development of new strategies which combine the reach of digital communication and the depth of relational organizing to create a sophisticated statewide network. Kevin joined Citizen Action in 2011 as the Healthcare Organizer as was promoted to Lead Organizer in 2013. Kevin was awarded the "Advocate of the Year" in 2012 by HealthWatch Wisconsin and the "2013 Friend of the Family Farmer" award by the Wisconsin Farmers Union. He was a top 5 finalist for the New Organizing Institute's national "Most Valuable Organizer" award in 2013. In 2014, Kevin spearheaded concurrent grassroots referendum campaigns on Medicaid/BadgerCare and minimum wage in 22 cities/counties, which all passed with supermajority support. Kevin is also a policy expert, authority a series of reports on health care and economic policy issues. Prior to joining Citizen Action, Kevin was a founding team member of the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative which provides affordable health coverage to over 20,000 members. Kevin is currently pursuing a Masters in Applied Economics with a focus on health and urban public policy. He is a former AmeriCorps VISTA, Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership, and health insurance broker. Kevin’s commitment to health reform stems from his work on Capitol Hill during the healthcare debate and his personal experience of being protected by the Affordable Care Act. Kevin grew up in Palatine, IL, and has lived his entire adult life in Milwaukee.
Anita Johnson, Community Organizer (A.D. Milwaukee Area Technical College).
Anita is one of the most respected organizers in Milwaukee’s African American Community, with three decades of experience speaking out on important issues. Anita’s focus is faith-based organizing on the issues of poverty, civic engagement, and voting rights. Anita joined Citizen Action of Wisconsin in August of 2008 as the Election Administration Advocate. Prior to joining Citizen Action, Anita worked for People For The American Way as Wisconsin Election Protection State Coordinator. Anita spent a number of years working for the largest public employee union in Milwaukee County, AFSCME District Council 48. Anita has received the U. S. Postal Service Award for Community Service, “Women Who Put Their Stamp On Milwaukee,” and the Grassroots Organizer of the Year award from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2013. She is also a graduate of Leadership Milwaukee. Anita grew up in Milwaukee, and is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin’s most diverse city.
Brian Wooldridge, Operations Director (B.A. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Brian implements all financial tracking and management, in consultation with our accountant Andrew C. Holman. Brian has been with Citizen Action WI for 21 years. Brian is also a well-known local musician, and puts his show biz talents to use as the producer of Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s weekly podcast, Battleground Wisconsin. Brian grew up in Indiana, and has lived in Wisconsin for over 30 years.
Erik Kirkstein, Health Organizer
Erik joined Citizen Action of Wisconsin in July 2014 as the Health Organizer. Erik's primary work involves coordinating our statewide advocacy program addressing the increase in heroin, opioid and other substance use disorders among Wisconsin youth. A Wisconsin native, Erik attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science. During his academic career, Erik worked as an intern in the Governor’s Office of the State of Wisconsin located in Milwaukee. Over the past 6 years, he has worked for a variety of Wisconsin-based advocacy organizations in both strategic organizing and communications capacities.
Anna Dvorak, Community Organizer
Anna Dvorak is a native of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area. She is proud to have attended both the Milwaukee and Shorewood public schools growing up, and credits her experiences in both public school systems for her passion for social, economic, racial and environmental justice. In 2012 she graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL magna cum laude with a bachelors degree in Spanish Language and Literature. After graduating, Anna served for two years as an AmeriCorps member for the Partners for After School Success (PASS) program in Madison, WI. As a PASS member, Anna worked in two community centers coordinating after school enrichment programs for middle and high school youth. Anna then went on to pursue a career in community organizing working as the Election Volunteer Coordinator and Organizer for WEAC Region 7 in the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election. Anna joined the Citizen Action of Wisconsin organizing team in 2015 and looks forward to building relationships with fellow progressives throughout the state.