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 Deputy Director (M.A. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, B.A. Loyola Marymount 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, Organizing Director (B.A. Marquette University, M.S.A.E. Candidate, Marquette University). Kevin is an organizing entrepreneur, who in his 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, became Lead Organizer in 2013, and Organizing Director in 2015. 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 the largest concurrent grassroots referendum campaign in Wisconsin history on Medicaid/BadgerCare in 20 cities/counties, which all passed with super-majority support. Kevin is also a policy expert, authored 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 manages the financial operations, IT and HR needs for CAW. He also supports social media platforms, social media content, graphic design and produces the weekly Battleground Wisconsin Podcast. Brian is from Indiana but moved to Wisconsin to attend UWM and pursue music. He is married and has two sons, they reside in Wauwatosa. Brian is a senior staff member at Citizen Action.
Anna Dvorak, Community Organizer (B.A. Knox College)
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.
Luz Sosa, Latino Outreach Organizer (M.S.A.E. Marquette University, B.A. Marquette University).
Luz was born in Asuncion, the capital and largest city of Paraguay, in South America. She moved to the United States with her family when she was 16 years old. Even though she did not know how to speak English, through hard work, she successfully finished her last two years of high school at Whitefish Bay High School. In 2007, she graduated from Marquette University with double majors in Economics and Political Science, and earning two Master’s degrees. After graduation, Luz worked for NAMWOLF, a non-profit organization that helps minority and women’s law firms thrive and succeed. Luz also worked for Northwestern Mutual as a financial representative, and then as a general manager at Helios, a manufacturing company of solar panels. Although her private sector jobs were good experiences, she longed for an opportunity to positively influence students and, with that in mind, became an Economics instructor at the Milwaukee Technical College (MATC) where she still teaches to this day. She recently started working for Citizen Action of Wisconsin where she will be in charge of helping the Latino communities on issues regarding Health Care, Economic Equality, and Voting Rights. Luz is also very active in the community, giving her time and support wherever she can. She is a member and treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 212 (the union of MATC). She is also the executive vice-president the state union, AFT-Wisconsin and a board member of the Wisconsin Labor History Society. And, on top of all that, she is the vice-president of Raise Wisconsin, an organization that champions the fight to raise the minimum wage for the working class. Last but not least, she is the proud mother of Maddox, who is now 4 years old.
Jeff Smith, Western WI Cooperative Organizer is a lifelong resident of the Eau Claire area. Raised in Eau Claire, Jeff went into business with his father right out of high school. Jeff bought out his father in 1986 and built the two-man window cleaning operation into a business that employed as many as 22 at one time. Given time to contribute to the community, Jeff became a community leader and activist. As a leader in the school district Jeff lead a successful effort to pass a $40 million referendum and founded the Parent Advisory Council while also helping form school funding strategies with WAES and as a member of the Governor’s Education Task Force. Jeff also became a community leader for environmental issues that helped catapult him into politics starting with the Chair position of the Town of Brunswick where Jeff lives. In 2006 Jeff was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly and served until 2011. While there Jeff was chair of the Elections and Campaign Reform Committee, vice-chair of Colleges and Universities, vice-chair of Financial Institutions while also serving on Education, Rural Affairs and Public Safety. After leaving the legislature Jeff has served on the Tainter-Menomin Lake Improvement Association to help combat the poisoning of our clean water, was instrumental in opening a homeless shelter in Eau Claire and served on the board of Common Cause of Wisconsin. In 2013 Jeff was hired as Political Director of Northern Wisconsin for the Democratic Party. Jeff has been a part of many efforts to bring economic and social justice to his region including as an organizer of Moral Monday NW Wisconsin and a 15 Now coalition for NW Wisconsin.