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.

Founding members were Curt S. Culver, Herb Kohl, Bob Lang, Sheldon B. Lubar, Katharine C. Lyall, and Michael Youngman. Katherine Gehl and Michael Hamerlik joined the Board as founding members in early 2016.

“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

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. 

Katherine Gehl served as the fourth-generation president and chief executive officer of Gehl Foods, a dairy manufacturing company, from 2011 to 2015. Previously, she was vice president at Bernstein Investment Research and Management, special assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley for technology and economic development, and director of information technology services at Chicago Public Schools.

Michael W. Grebe is the retired chief executive officer and president of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which supports conservative causes as well as arts, education, and civic groups. Grebe was chairman of the Foley & Lardner law firm from 1994 to 2002 and previously served on the Board of Regents and as general counsel for the Republican National Committee.

Michael Hamerlik is president and chief executive officer of WPS Health Insurance, 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 and the United Way of Dane County. He is a former member of the North Dakota Legislature.

Carolyn Heinrich, a former director of the La Follette School, is a professor of public policy and education at the Peabody College ofVanderbilt University. Her research focuses on social welfare policy, public management and performance management, and econometric methods for social-program evaluation.

Leslie Ann Howard, former president and chief executive officer fo 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.

Sheldon B. Lubar, a former president of the UW Board of Regents, is the founder and chairman of Lubar & Co., a private investment and wealth management office. He was chairman and chief executive officer of the Christiana Companies Inc. until its merger with Weatherford International in 1999 and was chairman of Total Logistics Inc. until its acquisition in 2005 by SuperValu Inc.

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.

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 senior vice president, enterprise government solutions - state for UnitedHealth Group. 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 Lutheran World Relief (LWR).

Michael Youngman, a UW-Madison and La Follette School alumnus, 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.