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Meet the 2016 Madison Fellows
Taylor Beale, Educator, Milwaukee Public School
Taylor Beale is currently a First Grade, English Language Arts Educator at Rocketship Southside Community Prep in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Taylor is passionate about social emotional development programs within schools that serve low-income communities and is committed to promoting educational organizations that thrive to ensure students are given the tools necessary to be functional citizens in their communities. Taylor also serves as a Founding Board Member of The Collective - Tulsa, OK, which is Teach For America's alumni of color association that supports alum in strengthening their leadership capacity as well as increasing access to opportunities. Taylor is an Illinois native, originally from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 2012 with a degree in Philosophy. During her undergraduate career, she served as Basileus and Anti-Grammateus of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated - Delta Rho Chapter as well as a recipient of the Illinois Leadership Certificate Program. Taylor also obtained a Masters of Educational Administration Curriculum, and Supervision from the University of Oklahoma. While in Oklahoma she served as a Content Specialist for first and second year educators for TFA. When not teaching, Taylor can be found attending church, discovering new local cuisine, and exercising.
Hank Brand, Sales Development Representative, Presence Learning
Raised in Madison, Wisconsin and Japan Hank’s interests are ever expanding, but a common theme throughout much of his work is to provide a meaningful service to a large number of people. Starting in Public Health both in the City of Milwaukee and in rural Guatemala; he became fascinated by the social determinacy factors that lead to greater health outcomes, in particular education. To learn more about this Hank began his career in education through Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta, and went on to classroom roles in DC, and as the founding math teacher of Coney Island Prep High School. Most recently, Hank worked as the Academic Affairs Director for College Track in East Palo Alto and as their National PLC Lead. He has come to believe that education has the potential to be a catalyst for change in nearly every aspect of one’s life. Now back in his Hometown of Madison, Hank works to provide underserved areas of Wisconsin with quality special education programming through tele-health technologies. He can also be heard on WORT’s nightly hour-long news broadcast sharing the latest events in Wisconsin politics, or around the city DJing 50s/60s Rnb and Soul and Hip-Hop under the moniker Common Wealth.
Kate Christopherson, Transit Planner/Technology Specialist, City of Madison
Kate is a transportation planner who is working to improve mobility and accessibility through sustainable and equitable means in the United States. Her interest in transportation, specifically transit, started in 2010 while studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina where her host family taught her how to use the city’s buses and subways. Back home in the Twin Cities, she again saw the importance of public transit while serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a Minneapolis job training nonprofit. Seeing that many in the United States struggled with mobility and accessibility, she decided to attend the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs to study urban and regional planning. While in school, Kate gained transit planning experience at the Twin Cities’ Metro Transit in its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project Office as an intern. During her internship, she supported a team of planners and civil engineers in planning the region’s first BRT lines. After graduating in May 2014, Kate moved to Madison to work at Madison Metro. Today, she works to improve data collection and analysis for its Planning and Scheduling Department. While urban planning and land use are important to Kate, she is also passionate about gender, racial, and income equality; climate change; campaign finance reform; healthcare; labor; and education. She is currently involved with the Wisconsin Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. She has previous experience with the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA), the University of Minnesota Duluth Chapter of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), and Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF). In her free time, she participates in a book club with her best friends, competes in bar trivia, and practices martial arts and kickboxing.
Flora grew up in both the communities of rural Hungary and northern California. This bicultural lens along with a church-centered upbringing brought her to understand the importance of community at a very young age. Her experiences, both negative and positive, prompted her to utilize her skills in a series of non-profit jobs that focused on multicultural community building. Her most recent position as a community organizer in her home county, one of the most conservative counties in California, entailed building a Spanish-speaking network of undocumented immigrant community members over hundreds of miles with the goal of legislating comprehensive immigration reform. During her four years in this position, she and a dedicated team of visionary community members met with dozens of public officials, played an indispensible role in assisting countless rural immigrant families in obtaining legal help, took part in the movement to win driver licenses for all undocumented immigrants in California and saw their police department hire a local undocumented activist. The relationships that were forged in this position challenged Flora to consider moving into the political field to create policies that would truly benefit all members of society. Now as a resident of Wisconsin, Flora is committed to fulfilling that challenge by finding a job in local government that will allow her to further engage marginalized populations of all backgrounds in decision-making and critical legislation. The tools she developed in the first phase of her career coupled with the extensive resources that the New Leaders Council has to offer, will support her in addressing the widespread issues of systemic racism. Flora has prepared herself for this journey by conducting numerous informational interviews with community leaders, volunteering, attending several community forums and by interning at the State Capitol. A recent opportunity that has been particularly meaningful and relevant to her self-enrichment is a discussion group hosted at her church that challenges white community members to better understand their identity, privilege, and their place in a movement for equality. She is thrilled to be in the beautiful state of Wisconsin and is looking forward to leaving her mark on it. In her free time, Flora enjoys bird watching, biking, watching football and bringing people together.
Lindsay James, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Reverend Lindsay James is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Reverend Lindsay has spent the last ten years working on various college campuses as an interfaith chaplain creating energetic and thoughtful environments for religious and ethical reflection and practice. Currently Reverend Lindsay serves as a pastor and community organizer in Dubuque Iowa, working to promote religious understanding, equity and inclusion. In her spare time, she serves as a commissioner on the Community Development Advisory Commission, and as a volunteer with Green Dubuque and the Greater Dubuque Community Foundation.
Jacob Jokisch, Budget & Policy Analyst-Advanced, Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Jacob Jokisch is a law school graduate from UW-Madison who now works for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections as a Budget and Policy Analyst-Advanced. During law school, Jacob focused on criminal law and immigration law. He enjoys his job with the Department of Corrections because it allows him to continue working on his passion for criminal justice. Jacob’s role with the Department of Corrections includes preparation and development of the agency’s biennial budget, responding to the public’s and the legislature’s information requests, and determining how proposed legislative bills would effect the agency. Jacob has also had a leadership role in a staffing analysis project at prisons and a grant application to the Department of Education that would allow Wisconsin inmates to pursue postsecondary education. Jacob is excited to be involved with NLC because he is passionate about progressive politics, specifically reforming criminal justice in Wisconsin by reducing the number of inmates in the state. He also has an interest in making the state tax code more progressive, as the state tax code is often overlooked when discussing tax reform.
Anna Kaminski, Health Benefits Counselor Manager, ABC for Health, Inc.
Anna works at ABC for Health Inc., a non-profit public interest law firm located in downtown Madison, as a Manager in the Health Benefits Counseling Department. As one of the bilingual advocates she provides benefits counseling in both English and Spanish. She meets with patients under provider contracts and engages in direct patient advocacy on behalf of clients by negotiating with federal, state and private insurance institutions and helping individuals and families to navigate the complicated healthcare system. In addition to her work as an advocate she coordinates the Dane County HealthWatch Coalition which has exposed her to the power that leaders in the community can have to impact positive policy change. Anna was born and raised in Madison by parents who taught her the importance and joy of being involved in progressive issues. After graduating high school she moved to Boston to study at Northeastern University. She completed diverse course work in Political Science, Sociology and History. She spent a semester abroad in Mexico where she studied International Relations, History and English/Spanish Linguistics and lived with a host family. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and minors in Latin American Studies and History. Some of her favorite courses included “Class, Power and Social Activism” and “The Immigrant Experience: Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in America” which ended up shaping her career path. After college she moved to the Washington DC area and was hired by a community organizing and service agency, CASA de Maryland, where she worked with day laborers in two of the workers' centers. She helped advocate for living wages and provided job skills trainings to the primarily Central American and African immigrant communities that CASA was helping to organize. During her time at CASA de Maryland Anna also learned about labor organizing due to her work as an Employment Specialist as well as her membership in the union at CASA. Anna moved closer to Chicago a few years later to be closer to home and was hired at Instituto del Progreso Latino as a Public Benefits Specialist. Her position there was funding in great part by the umbrella agency ICIRR's Immigrant Family Resource Program where her role was to advocate for immigrant families to get them access to public benefits for which they were eligible. She enjoyed interpreting policy and training others in the program on the intricacies of immigrant eligibility. After ten years of living outside of Madison Anna decided to move home with a whole new appreciation for her great hometown. She looks forward to inspiring progressive change by being a leader in the non-profit industry in Madison.
Josh Klemons, Digital Strategist, Reverbal Communications
Josh Klemons is a social media professional, specializing in digital storytelling and strategy. He began his digital journey working and consulting for local, statewide and national political campaigns. He now utilizes those skills to work with brands (businesses, organizations, bands, artists and the like) on finding, honing and telling their story online.
Laura Larsen, Budget and Program Evaluation Manager
Laura Larsen is a native of western Nebraska. After earning a Master Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska, Laura moved to Baltimore where she worked as a Senior Budget Management Analyst for the City of Baltimore. While working in Baltimore, Laura led efforts to facilitate the City’s outcomes-based budget process geared towards connecting dollars in the City’s budget with priorities most important to local residents. Laura currently serves as the Budget and Program Evaluation Manager for the City of Madison. In this role, Laura is responsible for facilitating Madison’s operating and capital budget planning processes. She is also responsible for analyzing the fiscal impact of pending legislation before the Common Council. Laura is committed to driving innovation through the budget process to deliver better results for Madison’s residents.
James Macken, Legislative Aide, State of Wisconsin
Originally from Milwaukee, Jim started working in politics during the political uprising in Wisconsin's capitol in 2011 after moving out to Madison for college. Jumping from the protests to interning during the recall to taking a semester off of school to work on the Obama campaign. During his final semesters Jim interned both in State Senator Chris Larson's office as well as the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee and ran a Dane County Board Race. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin having studied psychology and political science, Jim worked with the Wisconsin State Senate Campaign Committee as their Field Director where he oversaw all field activities and staff in targeted districts across the state and then worked on Scott Resnick's Madison mayoral bid. Jim is currently working in State Senator Janis Ringhand's legislative office.
Joe Meeker, Budget and Policy Analyst, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
Joe Meeker is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in Economics and Philosophy. He currently works as a budget and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and he someday hopes to go back to school for a Masters or JD. In his spare time he enjoys playing ping-pong, writing, and binge-watching Netflix.
Geraldine Paredes Vásquez, Racial Justice Coordinator, YWCA Madison
Geraldine, Gery, Paredes Vásquez was born in Bolivia to parents from two different regions historically in conflict. As a South American mestiza she has Indigenous and European heritages in both sides of her family and consistently explores how this impacts her sense of self and community across the globe. Her maternal grandmother, Yolanda, was a driven and dedicated woman that migrated to the United States of America in the early 1960´s. This is why she always had a sense of connection to USA and many years later arrived in Madison through personal and professional connections as an Intercultural Social Justice Experiential Educator. Geraldine graduated from high school in India as part of the global movement of education for peace UWC, counts with a B.A. on Interdisciplinary Social Justice Education from Prescott College and multiple international certifications on facilitation and conflict transformation. She has also lived for short periods in various countries across Latin America, Europe and Africa.
Frederick Perry, Special Education Teacher, Milwaukee Public Schools
Fredrick is a current Masters of Urban Special Education candidate at Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee Public Schools special education teacher, Teach for America 2014 Milwaukee Corps Member, and founder of the Future Sharks program which assist people successfully transition into four year colleges and universities through technical college systems. In 2014, he received his Bachelors of Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in political science and integrated liberal studies, and an associate’s degree from the Milwaukee Area Technical College. While pursuing his education, Fredrick worked with nonprofit agencies such as the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB) and the Nehemiah organization in Madison, Wisconsin. While working for MAWIB, Fredrick served as project manager for a collaborative research project conducted between MAWIB, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and the UW-Madison Institute on Research and Poverty. The research study focused on addressing the issues associated with the intersection of employment and health status for African American Males. At the Nehemiah organization, Fredrick tutored and mentored high school students in the areas of mathematics, English, and college and vocational transitions skills. In 2013 Fredrick served as the Philanthropy Chair and Vice Polemarch/President of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity incorporated, in which he and several community based organizations conducted a series of events over a 40 day period which addressed community issues in the areas of advocacy for health awareness, advocacy for homelessness, tutoring and mentoring, and professional development. His background in community organizing rooted from his desire to assist Milwaukee transition into a community of educational and economic equity. In concurrence with this initiative, Fredrick worked with community partners to increase voter turnout in Milwaukee and Madison. The need for high quality education has always been very important to Fredrick and he has been a tutor and mentor to both high school and college students since 2009. He was born in the inner city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin but has lived in cities ranging from Bakersfield, California to Chicago, Illinois. As a student in the Milwaukee Public School System, Fredrick realized the importance of a quality education. He has witnessed successes stories of peers that were fortunate enough to reach post-secondary educational institutions and has witnessed the detriments which occur when quality education is absent. These experiences, accompanied with a passion for community engagement and service prompted Fredrick to pursue a career in education and politics.
Carolyn Scherf, Local Food Coordinator, Dubuque County Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
Carolyn Scherf is a budding organizer, educator, and aspiring farmer working to transform the food system in eastern Iowa. She counts herself as part of a growing global movement to reconnect people with land in ways that foster health, equity, empowerment and resilience. Carolyn graduated from the University of Iowa in 2011 where she studied Intermedia Art and Social Work. Inspired by the field of social practice and collaborations with a local community garden, after graduation she began working on diversified farms raising fruits, vegetables and meats for local markets. As Local Food Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, and as a member of a local grassroots advocacy group Green Dubuque, today Carolyn builds partnerships with government leaders, public health professionals, educators, emergency food providers, and farmers working to meet the challenges of a changing environment and economy through local foods.
De-Kendrea Stamps, Event Coordinator, YWCA of Madison
Originally from Crystal Springs, Mississippi, De’Kendrea Stamps has over 17 years of professional and volunteer experience in the governmental and nonprofit sectors. She has focused in transportation and nonprofit management for 6 years. She graduated Cum Laude from Alcorn State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and pursued her Masters in African American Studies and Literature as a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. From an early age it was ingrained in her that generosity and service are essential to becoming a well-rounded individual. As a teenager De’Kendrea created her own volunteer position in Crystal Springs, MS (population approximately 5,000) at the local City Hall after attending a city council meeting. In the position, she provided over 2,000 hours of assistance in the city clerk’s and mayor’s office. While providing service in her town, she was also called upon to help in establishing the town’s first environmental cleanup day and student/government switch day. Since that time, her career and volunteer lives have intertwined to include working and volunteering for several non-profit and government agencies that focus on community revitalization, education, economic empowerment, social justice, and financial literacy. Most recently De’Kendrea served as a Loaned Executive with the United Way of Dane County. She managed 23 accounts to raise over $970k of the $19.3 million goal in support of the United Way’s Community Impact Model and to provide aide for its implementation in over 100 local partner agencies.
Monica Sundal, Executive Assistant to the Mayor, City of Madison
Monica Sundal is the Executive Assistant to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. In her current role, she particularly enjoys the opportunity to connect with residents and learn about effective urban planning, city budgeting, and issues of racial equity in city hiring and management. Monica serves as vice chair of the Women’s Initiatives Committee for the City of Madison. Prior to joining the Mayor’s administration, Monica worked on several local and statewide campaigns in Madison, including mayoral, State Supreme Court, Senate, and Gubernatorial races. She also interned with NARAL Pro Choice Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Monica was raised in West Bend, WI and graduated in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in Political Science.
Nathan Toth, Network Administrator, Madison Metropolitan Sewage District
Nathan Toth has been an IT professional for 9 years. Prior to that he served in the US Navy as an Electricians Mate. He was stationed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that led the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. After completing his service, Nate began to question the US’s role in the wars. He found Iraq Veterans Against the War and became a prominent activist in the anti-war movement in Madison, WI and nationwide. During that time, he became more and more knowledgeable on the world around him and on the politics and policies that make it what it is. Nate and his wife are foster parents. They have opened their home to kids who have been victims of things that no child should deal with. They see the effects of generational poverty every day; and see how things like lack of access to daycare, low wages, lack of paid sick time, a poor educational system, lack of healthcare, and substandard housing keep people in poverty. The foster care system is not perfect, by any means, and there is plenty of room for improvement. Nate grew up in northern Wisconsin, out in the woods. This gave him a deep respect for the environment. It is difficult to imagine a time when one will be unable to sit on a shoreline and watch eagles fish, baby ducks follow their mom, or a beaver swim with a log. But humans are very good at destroying the environment; and without proper controls, community involvement, and education, a time will come when it will be difficult to find that peaceful lake, silent glacier, or old-growth forest. Nate’s exposure at a young age to pristine wilderness has made him a strong defender of our planet. In his personal and professional life, he has done nearly everything possible to limit his impact on the environment.
Soong Kit Wong
Soong Kit Wong grew up in Malaysia, a country held back by numerous political failings, a fact highlighted by a seceded state, Singapore, surpassing Malaysia within a generation. During his time in university, his interest in debate and Model United Nations opened the world of politics and policy. Because of this, he is currently getting his Masters degree in Public Affairs.He has worked as a volunteer teacher on two separate occasions as well as canvassed for public interest groups in Madison.