Members of our Board of Visitors help the La Follette School enhance its stature and standing, assist in fundraising, provide career advice and assistance to students, and act as goodwill ambassadors for the school.
Jennifer Abele (MPA ’01) has served Milwaukee in many roles, including as lead financial analyst and planner for the City, leader of the Milwaukee Water Works, and chief partnership officer for UW-Milwaukee. In 2022, she started VC 414, which invests in startups founded by women and other undercapitalized founders.
JoAnne Anton is Director of Giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies where she works to advance the former U.S. Senator and businessman’s philanthropic goals, investments, and community involvement. She is passionate about supporting education initiatives including the La Follette School. As a former U.S. Senate State Director, a small business-owner and community partner to many organizations and boards, JoAnne has more than 25 years of public, private and non-profit sector experience.
Theola V. Carter
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.
Alex Conant (MPA ’03) is a founding partner at Firehouse Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, DC. He joined Firehouse after 15 years of working in senior levels of American politics and government. He received his BA from UW–Madison and a master’s degree from the La Follette School in 2003.
Curt S. Culver
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, Board Chair
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Theresa E. Mintle
Theresa E. Mintle (MA ’91) supports small businesses as co-founder of FYS Ventures. She served as the Interim Vice Chancellor for the Office of Public and Government Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as Chief of Staff to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and in various roles for the Chicago Transit Authority Board. Mintle was the first woman to lead the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
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.
Jack C. Salzwedel
Jack C. Salzwedel is board chair and retired CEO of American Family Insurance, a national mutual insurance company based in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to his chair responsibilities, Jack serves on a variety of community and corporate boards with deep interest in the areas of social and racial equity, education, the environment and healthcare. Jack and his wife, Sarah, participate and invest in the community in other ways, including through their Salzwedel Family Foundation, and the Slife Institute for Social Work Consultation, Research and Training, which they established at their alma mater, Wartburg College.
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.
Roger Ervin has worked in the highest levels of presidential politics and diplomatic service and served as the president and CEO of Blumont.
The promotion of civil discourse is one of the most urgent actions the La Follette School can take going forward.
Alex Conant (MPA ’03) is a founding partner at Firehouse Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. He joined the La Follette School’s Board of Visitors in April.