Steering Committee Candidate Descriptions

Beth Ludeman, Milwaukee

I'm Beth Ludeman, and as a lifelong progressive and a regional director working with unionists in public education, I will bring my experience from the challenges and struggles within our union to inform and shape the opportunities we will have in creating and visioning this new organizing endeavor. I look forward to working as part of the steering committee to represent the interest of all in moving FORWARD!

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Nancy Kaplan, Glendale

I grew up in rural Indiana and have been involved in progressive politics my entire life. In my professional life, I was a professor, chair of my department, and president of the university faculty senate. So I have years of experience working toward consensus with other people who have disparate views. After I moved to WI and retired, I could devote most of my time to progressive causes, both electoral and issue-oriented. I have worked on the Walker recall campaign, the 2012 Obama campaign, and the 2014 state and county elections. I currently serve as Vice Chair on the steering committee for Grassroots North Shore. I also edit our weekly newsletter and manage our web presence and database. I'm excited about working with a crowd-funded organizer who will help make the wide variety of grassroots groups in the region pull together to effect progressive change in WI.

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Keith Schmitz, Shorewood

As a long time activist and founding member of Grassroots North Shore, I am aware of the great things that can be done at the grassroots level. Minds are changed on a people-to-people basis, and this is the best way to take back Wisconsin. As a life-long resident of Wisconsin who can trace his roots back to the founding of state, I am eager to be part of this drive to organize all the state by bringing empowerment and progress from Milwaukee’s central city to the woods of Iron County.

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Karin Adelmann, Greenfield

When I came to Wisconsin from Germany twenty years ago, I expected to experience a modern democracy: fair elections; labor rights; a concern for racial, sexual, and gender equality; etc.  Instead, I encountered the dismantling of many of the traits emblematic of a functioning democracy due to the pressure of big money, propagandist media, and unscrupulous, anti-intellectual politicians.  I am willing to work for a democracy that has its roots in truth, knowledge, and education.  I hope that as a member of the steering committee, my experience in committee work for the Franklin School district as well as the Franklin Professional Educator Association would be beneficial in attaining these goals.

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Michael Langyel, Waukesha

As a founding member of Grassroots Waukesha County, I have seen the potential of progressive politics, even in a strongly conservative location. With my experiences, which include being a past president of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, I believe I can serve our new organizer well. If you vote for me for this position of steering committee member, I promise to work hard to represent you in our efforts to build a better world.

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Marla Stephens, Whitefish Bay

I am dedicated to this Member Crowdfunding project, and was one of the volunteer member-owners who helped draft the guidelines document during the 60-day campaign. I recently retired after working for 33 years at the Office of the State Public Defender - as the Appellate Division Administrator, a local office attorney-manager, an appellate attorney and a trial attorney. I’ve been involved in state politics for decades as a member of the Public Defender leadership team and as a State Supreme Court candidate in 2010-11. I have argued cases before the state Supreme Court and testified before the legislature numerous times. I believe my experience - as an attorney, an administrator, a board member or chair of various organizations (Wisconsin Judicial Council and the Executive Committee for the State Bar of WI Board of Governors), and as a candidate for public office - would help me to be a valuable addition to the Member Crowdfunding steering committee.

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Bonnie Brusky, Milwaukee

Currently, my professional role is an Assistant Director with the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, representing and organizing over 6,000 members in Milwaukee Public Schools.  Personally, my focus is raising my two MPS-educated boys, and connecting with the Milwaukee community on social justice matters.  My interest in joining the steering committee comes from observing and/or participating in the growth of voices of Wisconsin's citizens around matters of public education, healthcare, racism, poverty, and other matters of human justice.

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Marlene Ott, Greendale

I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the leadership team to guide this exciting venture. I bring the experience of 45 years in high school English classrooms, past president and chief negotiator of my local union, current Board member of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, president of Co.#10 Retired (WEAC), Chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County. But you are probably more interested in what I want to do. If elected, I hope to recruit a team that will grow a diverse group of committed activists of all ages and backgrounds to lead the fight for the core values that unite us. We need to focus on what binds us together, not what divides us.

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Rob Hansen, Greenfield

Robert has a wide range of experience working on candidate and issue campaigns on the local, state, and national levels. He has served in many capacities over the years for many organizations including Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (Field Organizer), The Democratic Party of Delta County-Michigan (Volunteer Coordinator), Progressive Democrats of America (County Co-Chair and State Coordinator), The Greenfield School Board (Treasurer and Vice President), The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County (Executive Board Member), The Southwest Regional Democratic Organization (Chair), Peace Action Wisconsin (Vice President), Democratic Party of Wisconsin (Administrative Committee Representative for the 5th Congressional District) and Peace Action (Wisconsin Representative on National Board). 

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Vivian McLemore, Milwaukee

Vivian is a retired economic specialist and benefit coordinator for Milwaukee county Social Services and Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. While there she was elected to serve as Vice-President of AFSCME District Council 48, the union dedicated to Milwaukee public sector employees. In addition, she also served as president of AFSCME local 594 serving over 1,000 active union members. 

Currently she is serving her 2nd term on the Parish Council for All Saints Catholic Church, active in many ministries in her church, and has served as a regional & council organizer for MoveOn.org for Greater Milwaukee.

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Doug Perry, South Milwaukee

My experiences as a political organizer, Union president and school board member would make me an asset for this position. I look forward to working with a team to make a difference in our community. 

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Khary Penebaker, Hartland

I have been an activist for several years, primarily focusing on gun violence prevention. I am a gun violence survivor, as a result of my mother committing suicide with a gun. As a result of that, I have a unique insight into the never ending damage that gun violence can do, both to the victims as well as to the survivors. In addition to the physical in-person activism (marches, phone calls, lobby days, etc), I am heavily involved in social media activism as well. On my personal account (@KharyP), I have over 20,000 followers and have tweeted over 275,000 times, which has generated a Klout Score of 72. I am the person behind the @UniteBlueWI account as well, which has over 11,000 followers and I have tweeted nearly 62,000 times from that account. My @UniteBlueWI account handles more specific WI related political matters and makes sure to share the progressive approach to political social media activism. 

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Sharon Keigher, Milwaukee

The potential impact of growing a Progressive, Participatory, Shareholder/Member organization in Wisconsin offers unlimited prospects for change, because there is nowhere to go but UP for Progressive voters right now. I would consider it an honor to serve on the first Steering Committee of this project. In my career I’ve been a Social Worker, agency Administrator, and State Budget Analyst. In 1985 I earned my PhD from the University of Chicago, then was a Professor of Social Work for 27 years, teaching Social and Health Policy, Theories of Organizations and Communities, and Gerontology. I conducted qualitative research on homelessness, poverty, caregiving, and HIV/AIDS, published, and served as editor-in-chief of a national SW journal. In my 20 years at UW-Milwaukee, I learned a lot from assigning students to investigate neighborhoods, agencies and elected officials, to understand the arcane complexities of obtaining social services here.
Most importantly, I have loved living in Milwaukee for 23 years, but remain disturbed by our potent racial segregation, disparities in quality of life, and our lack of public transportation, integrated housing, livable-wage jobs, and justice. We need to recruit people of color immediately to strengthen this organization.

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Jocelyn Bubolz, New Berlin

 I think as we create this new entity we need to dream big enough to integrate all the issues we think are important into a single unified vision.

For example, when Elizabeth Warren proposed forming a Consumer Agency to act as the watchdog protecting ordinary folk from predatory lending practices her idea was big enough and bold enough to marshal support from unions, civil rights, religious and consumer groups.  Another example is from author/ climate activist Naomi Klein who said, “... we need to create integrated solutions – ones that radically bring down emissions, while closing the inequality gap and making life tangibly better for the majority [emphasis is mine].  I believe we need to do it all.

I worked in public libraries for my entire career.  I became politically active in 2004.  I volunteered for Kerry (2004), Feingold (2004 and 2010), Obama (2008 and 2012).  I protested in Madison (2011) and worked to Recall Scott Walker (2011/12).  In 2013 I was involved in establishing Neighbors First New Berlin, a non-partisan 501(c)(4) community group which battled for eight months to educate and lobby our local public officials.  I believe ordinary people need to become politically involved for the sake of us all, our country, children and grandchildren.

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Ted Kraig, Milwaukee

I live in Milwaukee and have three children currently attending Milwaukee Public Schools. I am curently a Director at Region 7 of WEAC, which represents educators in school districts throughout southeast Wisconsin. I have volunteered and worked in the progressive movement for my entire adult life, including working for Citizens for a Better Environment and working on election campaigns for progressive candidates. For the past 19 years I have served as an organizer in the labor movement working with retail workers, health care workers and educators.

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