Wisconsin Humanities' 25 volunteer board members hail from all parts of the state. We seek members whose experience, training, interests, skills, cultural background, and community ties bring diversity, energy, and expertise to our programs. Approximately half of our board membership is drawn from the academic community and half from the community at large. New members are ordinarily elected to three-year terms at our February meeting, and assume office in June. Six members are appointed by the Governor.
Jan Larson is a professor emeritus and the former Department Chair of the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. In 2018, she chaired a steering committee of journalists, nonprofit leaders, and community members to design a month of programs dedicated to building trust to address challenges facing Eau Claire. She started her career as a journalist and has written academically and otherwise, including regular contributions to Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She joined the WH board in 2019 and lives in Eau Claire.
Mary Lynne Donohue
Mary Lynne Donohue was an attorney before retiring and serving as an alderperson.She has taught administrative law at law schools in Bulgaria, Poland, and Lithuania through the Center for International Legal Studies. She has served as Treasurer of the State Bar and on the Board of Governors, as well as numerous committees and boards, and ran for Assembly for the 26th district. She currently serves as President of the Sheboygan School Board. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2018 and lives in Sheboygan
Jenifer D. Cole *
Jenifer Cole was appointed to the Wisconsin Humanities board by Governor Tony Evers in 2019. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Women’s Council, the state’s statutory commission on the status of women and girls. She has held various positions in state government since 2010, including most recently serving as the Department of Workforce Development’s Legislative Advisor for two years after serving as the Deputy Legislative Liaison at the Department of Children & Families. In addition, Jenifer is an Alderperson on the City of Middleton Common Council for District 4. She has also worked and volunteered for numerous women’s, LGBTQ+, and social justice organizations in Wisconsin, New York, and California. She lives in Middleton with her two rescue Yorkshire terriers and near her significant other, Amanda.
Sandra Adell is a literature professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her areas of focus include Black Literature, Black Women Writers, Twentieth-Century French Literature and Philosophy, and African American Dramatic Literature and Theater History. She has written and edited five books, including the “Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Culture” and “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen,” acted in local theater productions, and directed a play. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2022 and lives in Madison.
Debra K.S. Barker
Debra K. S. Barker is Director of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, where she is a professor of English. She is an
enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Nation) and teaches and researches past and contemporary Lakota writing, Indigenous literary aesthetics, decolonial studies, and the representation of American Indians in EuroAmerican culture. Her publications include articles on American Indian boarding schools, Lakota life writings, and the literary production of Louise Erdrich. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2022 and lives in Eau Claire.
Janet T. Bewley
Janet T. Bewley is an American politician and former Democratic minority leader in the Wisconsin State Senate. She was a member of the Legislature from 2011 through 2023, representing eleven counties in northwestern Wisconsin. She served on the Ashland City Council, is a former Community Relations Officer for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, and served as Executive Director of a family foundation focused on the arts and social enrichment. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2023 and lives in Mason.
Jennifer S. Esperanza
Jennifer Esperanza is Senior Director of Organizational Culture and Strategy at Coopera, an multicultural analytics and DEI consulting firm. Prior to working for Coopera, she was Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Beloit College from 2008 to 2021. Her research, teaching and publication record focuses on economic inequality, immigration, and community development. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2021 and lives in Beloit
Sergio M. González
Sergio M. González is Assistant Professor of History at Marquette University. His scholarship focuses on the development of Latino communities in the U.S. Midwest. He is the author of“Mexicans in Wisconsin” (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2017) and the co-editor of “Faith and Power: Latino Religious Politics Since 1945” (NYU Press, 2022) with Felipe Hinojosa and Maggie Elmore. His latest project, “Strangers No Longer: Latino Belonging and Faith in 20th Century Wisconsin” (University of Illinois Press, Spring 2024), explores the relationship between Latino communities, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century Midwest. He joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2020 and lives in Wauwatosa.
Ann Huntoon is a semi-retired Public Health Nurse at Oneida County Public Health Department. Prior to her move to the Northwoods, she was the Executive Director of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra in Stevens Point. She has served on the boards of Create Wisconsin, the Association of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestras, and the League of American Orchestras. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2020 and lives on a quiet lake with her husband and varied menagerie north of Tomahawk.
Lac du Flambeau
Brian Jackson is the Cultural Connections Coordinator at Lac du Flambeau Public School. He is the President of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and has
years of experience working with students and families as an advocate for Native education and cultural inclusion. He developed the American Indian Studies – Wisconsin Act 31 curriculum used as the guiding principle throughout Wisconsin’s public school system. He joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2021 and lives in Lac du Flambeau
Everett L. Marshburn
Everett Marshburn is a producer at Milwaukee Public Television, where he has produced “Black Nouveau” since 2006. He previously worked for Maryland Public Television for more than thirty years, where he became Vice-President for Regional Productions. He is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Wisconsin Black Media Association, and the Beta Omega Epsilon Fraternity, Inc. and has received numerous awards, including five Emmys. He served on the Maryland Humanities Council from 1986- 1992. He joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2021 and lives in Milwaukee.
Jim O’Connell coordinates the undergraduate arts management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the Wisconsin School of Business and has spent 46 years managing and programming performing arts, most recently at Wausau’s Grand Theater. Jim serves as a regular grant review panelist for the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin’s Community Arts Grant Program and for the Wisconsin Arts Board’s Creation and Presentation Program. He is also a board member and treasurer of the Association of Arts Administration Educators. Jim joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2023 and currently lives in Wausau
David J. O'Connor
David J. O'Connor is the American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). He is originally from and is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Anishinaabe) in northern Wisconsin. At DPI, he supports school districts' efforts to provide instruction on the histories, cultures, and tribal sovereignty of the American Indian nations and tribal communities of Wisconsin, which is often referred to as Wisconsin Act 31. He also supports the education of Indigenous students. David joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2023 and currently lives in Madison, WI with his two daughters Ava and Ellie.
Ruth Olson was the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures and taught Folklore courses at UW-Madison through the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, as well as the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. She is one of the founders of Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture, a network of teachers interested in integrating local culture into existing curricula. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2022 and lives in Madison.
Kate Rericha *
Kate Rericha is Senior Grants and Development Manager at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Egg Harbor. An arts educator with teaching experience in a variety of environments, Kate has served her local and state communities through leadership positions on the boards of Create Wisconsin, Egg Harbor Business Association, and Help of Door County, and has been a grant review panelist at the state level. She lives in Sturgeon Bay and was appointed to the Wisconsin Humanities board by Governor Evers in 2023.
N'Jameh Russell-Camara *
N'Jameh Russell-Camara is an Educator and Performing Artist and the former Education and Engagement Director of Programs at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. She has done work for the National Endowment for the Arts and is the Founder of the Pandemic Pregnancy Project, a national collection of pandemic pregnancy interviews turned into monologues that are now archived with The Library of Congress. She is of Filipina and Gambian ancestry and received her MFA from the University of California- San Diego. She has taught at UW-Madison and UCSD, and her recent acting credits include audio works published by Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, as well as many theatric performances, including with the National Broadway Tour of The Color Purple. She lives in Milwaukee and was appointed to the Wisconsin Humanities board by Governor Evers in 2023.
Carole J. Trone *
Carole Trone is the Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives for Fair Opportunity Project. She runs CTrone consulting and works with educational organizations with a focus on college access. She is a former member of the Dane Arts Commission and frequent contributor to The Progressive Magazine on the importance of educational access and equity. She joined the Wisconsin Humanities board in 2019 and lives in Madison.
Carrie Van Hallgren *
Carrie Van Hallgren is Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Operations of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at UW-Platteville. Prior to coming to UW-Platteville, Carrie served as Managing Director at American Players Theatre for eight seasons. As a non-profit theater leader, she has worked with Milwaukee Shakespeare, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Her higher education experience includes producing and teaching theater at Davidson College, University of Minnesota, and UW- Madison. Born and raised in Platteville, she currently lives in Spring Green with her family and was appointed to the Wisconsin Humanities board by Governor Evers in 2023.
Nengher N. Vang is an associate professor in the History Department and an affiliated faculty in the Race & Ethnic Studies program at the University of
Wisconsin-Whitewater. He holds degrees in history, peace studies, theology, and sociology. His research focuses on the history and politics of Hmong Americans who came to the United States as refugees from Laos after the Vietnam War. He has published numerous articles and is currently writing a book on the Hmong’s colonial history and their struggle for national sovereignty. He joined the board in 2023 and lives in Deerfield.
Kris Adams Wendt *
Kris Adams Wendt lives in Rhinelander. She is a semi-retired Public Library Consultant, specializing in local and state advocacy, for the Wisconsin Valley LibraryService serving 25 libraries in seven northcentral Wisconsin counties. Hired as the Rhinelander District Library children’s librarian in 1974 she retired as its director in 2008 and has maintained an active presence on the Wisconsin Library Association’s legislative committee. Prior to joining WVLS, she served as Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton’s last Chief of Staff in 2010. First appointed to the Wisconsin Humanities board by Governor Doyle from 2004-2010, she was reappointed by Governor Evers in 2019.
* Governor’s Appointee as of 11/1/23