Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Throughout its history, the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs and its predecessors have enjoyed tremendous support from UW-Madison alumni and friends. Several have served in a formal capacity, as members of the School’s Board of Advisors and now the Board of Visitors (BOV).

The BOV was created to help the La Follette School identify resources that can enhance its stature and standing, provide assistance in fundraising, provide career advice and assistance to students, and act as goodwill ambassadors for the School.

In October 2015, La Follette School Professor Susan Webb Yackee convened a new Board of Visitors. Upon completing her term as the School's director in August 2016, Yackee was named BOV director. Members serve three-year terms and elect one to serve as BOV chair. Meeting are held twice annually.

“The La Follette School greatly appreciates the commitment of our founding and future Board members,” Yackee said. “Their combined experience, knowledge and love of the university and state will help prepare our School for future challenges and growth. We are thrilled to have people of their caliber at our side.”

La Follette School of Public Affairs Board of Visitors

Theola V. Carter (MA ’91) is manager of the Policy and Program Improvement team in Dane County’s Tamara D. Grigsby Office for Equity and Inclusion. She also serves or has served on several boards, including but not limited to Dane County Credit Union, Madison TEMPO, City of Madison Affirmative Action Commission, and Girls on the Run of Dane County. Carter, who grew up in Beloit, received her bachelor’s degree in history, with an emphasis in English, from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Curt S. Culver is chairman of MGIC Investment Corp. and its principal subsidiary, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the nation's leading private mortgage insurer. MGIC Investment Corp. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2016, Culver and his wife, Sue, created the Curt and Sue Culver Graduate Fellowship Fund in Public Service, which provides financial assistance to some of the La Follette School’s top students. 

Roger Ervin is an accomplished global operating executive with experience in the public and private sectors. In May 2021, he joined Putnam Partners as a firm partner. The retired president and CEO of government contractor Blumont, Ervin was Secretary of the Wisconsin Department Revenue from 2007 to 2011. Ervin received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and his MBA from UW–Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business. He will be teaching public management and leadership at the La Follette School as an adjunct professor in the future.

Jason Gerlach (MA, JD ’96) is CEO and managing partner of Sunrise Capital Partners of San Diego, an asset management firm founded in 1980. He joined Sunrise in 2008 after several years in private business and as an attorney and entrepreneur. Gerlach co-founded the California Hedge Fund Association in 2010 and serves as the organization’s president and on its board of directors. 

Michael Hamerlik is president and chief executive officer of WPS Health Solutions, which is based in Madison. A graduate of the University of North Dakota’s School of Law, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. He is a former member of the North Dakota Legislature.

Carolyn Hill (MA ’96) is a senior fellow at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect families who live in poverty. Hill, who has written three books, works on implementation research across MDRC's policy areas. She previously was a tenured associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University. Hill received her bachelor’s degree in political science and Russian area studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1989, her master's degree in public affairs from the La Follette Institute in 1996, and her PhD in public policy from the University of Chicago in 2001.

Leslie Ann Howard, former president and chief executive officer for United Way of Dane County, is an advocate for collaboration and change in the health and human services delivery system and serves as senior advisor to the CEO at United Way Worldwide. She received her master's degree from UW-Madison in 1979, and spent a lifetime working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector. An adjunct associate professor at the La Follette School, Howard teaches Nonprofit Leadership.

Herb Kohl, a Milwaukee businessman and philanthropist, represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate from 1988 to 2012. In 1990, he established the Herb Kohl Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to students and fellowships to teachers and schools throughout Wisconsin.

Bob Lang has served as director of the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau since 1977. A nonpartisan service agency of the Legislature, the Fiscal Bureau provides policy, program and fiscal analyses to state legislators, including the Joint Committee on Finance.

Terry Lierman (MA ’71) is a founding partner of Summit Global Ventures, which he began after serving as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer from 2007 to 2011. He serves as chair of the Institute for Human Virology’s Advisory Board. Lierman ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, served as finance co-chair for Howard Dean's presidential campaign from 2003 to 2004, and was chair of Maryland's Democratic Party from 2004 to 2007.

David Lubar is president and CEO of Lubar & Co., a private investment firm founded in 1977 whose primary investment activity is acquiring and building middle market operating companies. He joined the company in 1983 and has served as the lead investor to more than 20 companies in a wide range of industries and in various stages of development.

Katharine C. Lyall served as president of the University of Wisconsin System from 1992 to 2004. Lyall, the first woman to lead the UW System, oversaw 28 campuses with 160,000 students. Under her leadership, the UW System doubled its outside funding to $2.3 billion annually, forged new partnership with Wisconsin’s technical colleges and K-12 community, and instituted many technological innovations, including online courses and degrees.

Luther Olsen was elected to the State Senate in 2004, after serving in the State Assembly for 10 years. A lifelong resident of the 14th Senate District, Olsen received his bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison. In the Legislature, he has served on numerous committees, including the Joint Committee on Finance and the Senate Education Committee. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Education Commission of the States and many other state and national boards and committees.

Chuck Pruitt, a former member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, is co-managing director of ABD Direct and a former professor of political science. He began his career as a professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Eric Schutt is chief people officer and vice president of government affairs for SHINE Medical Technologies. A former chief of staff for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, he has more than 20 years of experience at the federal and state level in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He is a 1994 graduate of UW–Madison.

Daniel Speckhard (MA ’82) is a former U.S. Ambassador to Greece and Belarus. Speckhard has had a long and distinguished career in government service under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Ambassador Speckhard’s previous positions have included serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary General at NATO and Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq. Speckhard currently serves as the President/CEO of Corus International, formerly Lutheran World Relief, IMA World Health, and several other international aid organizations.

Michael Youngman (MA ’82) is a retired executive officer of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. As vice president of government relations, Youngman oversaw legislative and regulatory matters at the federal, state and local levels. He also serves on the Wisconsin Historical Society Foundation's Board of Directors.