Alumni News – February 2023

Photos of Heidi Frechette, Blake Buege, and Seth Roca
From left to right: Heidi Frechette (MPA ’03), Blake Buege (certificate in public policy ’21), and Seth Roca (MIPA ’21)

Kirbie Mack (MPA ’95) was highlighted in Madison365’s annual list of Wisconsin’s most influential Black leaders. Mack served for 36 years in both state and local governments. She was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle and served for two terms as the Division of Enterprise Services administrator. Before that, she served as the City of Madison’s affirmative action director, overseeing contract compliance, affirmative action, and disability rights. Mack earned her master’s degree in policy affairs and public administration from the La Follette School’s predecessor, the La Follette Institute, in 1995.

Gordon Hintz (MPA ’01) was hired as the new director for the Wisconsin Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, which identifies and promotes issues of mutual benefit and concern to both labor and management. Hintz, who recently completed his eighth term serving as the State Representative for Wisconsin’s 54th Assembly District, will be based out of the union’s DeForest office.  During his time in the state legislature, Hintz was the Assembly Democratic Leader from October 2017 to January 2022, and prior to that he served on the Joint Committee on Finance from 2015 to 2017.

Heidi Frechette (MPA ’03) received a 2022 Presidential Rank Award from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Frechette works as a deputy assistant secretary of Native American Programs for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Her team supports more than 567 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities that are working with HUD to provide their low-income residents with decent affordable housing, expand and improve housing infrastructure, provide opportunities for low-income residents to become self-sufficient, and develop thriving economies. Frechette received an MPA and a JD from UW–Madison in 2003.

Brett Halverson (MPA ’07) will serve as a budget and policy specialist for Sen. Melissa Agard. He will be based in the office of Sen. LaTonya Johnson, a member of the Finance Committee. Halverson previously served as deputy legislative director for State Rep. Gordon Hintz (MPA ’01) and as manager of public policy for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. He is also a trustee in the Village of Mount Horeb.

Tyrel Zich (MPA ’15) has been named regional vice president of regulatory policy at Xcel Energy. Since joining the utilities company in 2016, Zich has held various positions in rates and regulatory affairs, most recently serving as the manager of pricing and planning. Prior to joining the company, he held positions at the Hamilton Consulting Group and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In his new role, Zich will oversee regulatory strategy planning, policy and pricing for Xcel Energy’s operations in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Derek Field (MPA ’16) is running for Madison City Council (District 3). Field works as a data and analytics liaison at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Previously, he worked for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for over four years. Field has also served as an election official with the City of Madison and Town of Blue Mounds since 2012, and served as the vice chair of Associated Students of Madison, UW–Madison’s student government, from 2014 to 2015. The primary election takes place February 21.

Blake Buege (certificate in public policy ’21) will serve as director of public relations for the Washington Area Concierge Association, where he will promote the tourism industry of greater Washington, D.C. He also recently received a promotion to publicist at Linda Roth PR. Previously, Buege interned at the United States House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and government with a certificate in public policy in May 2021.

Seth Roca (MIPA ’21) recently started as an analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Previously, he worked as a budget and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. While completing his MIPA, Roca served as a research assistant for the UW–Madison Center for Financial Security, where he analyzed financial research publications to create practitioner briefs, created research study proposals, and carried out research studies.

Ian Pearson (MPA ’22) started as an analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. His first rotation as an analyst in the Professional Development Program will be to work on the health care team. Pearson was also recently named a finalist for the Presidential Management Fellows class of 2023. The program is extremely selective: of the more than 10,000 individuals from around the world who applied for the program, 850 finalists were chosen. As part of the program, he will be appointed a two-year, full-time federal position to apply his skills while engaging in leadership development training.

Jean Vilbert (MIPA ’22) appeared on a recent episode of 1050 Bascom, a podcast created by the Department of Political Science. In an interview conducted in December, Vilbert discussed his career teaching law, working as a judge in Brazil, and Brazilian politics. In addition to receiving a MIPA in 2022, Vilbert holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law. He is currently teaching courses for the Department of Political Science.

Emma Heins (MPA ’22) recently started a new position as policy manager at Electrification Coalition, where she will use policy analysis and coalition building to advance the adoption of transportation electrification technology in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and at the national level. Previously, she worked as a policy analyst for the organization.

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