This Wisconsin Women's Network is a volunteer operated organization that brings together women from diverse backgrounds. It was formed to ensure that women from all walks-of-life have a voice in the policy making process in Wisconsin, and the women on the boards and committees continue to work towards empowering future generations.
Sara Dillivan-Graves, president
Sara joined the Wisconsin Women's Network Board in 2015. Sara grew up in northern Wisconsin where nature and beautiful wild spaces were always just steps from your home but healthcare access was a 45 minute drive or more, and only if you had insurance. She earned a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Political Science and Global Studies and then moved to the greater Milwaukee area for 5 years before landing in Madison. Sara is proud to be part an organization that knows that all women across this state are not fighting the same battles and is willing to train women to advocate for what is important to them and their community.
kara pennoyer, vice president
Kara Pennoyer, staff to Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, enjoys her work with the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute because it’s an opportunity to open the door to get more women involved in important advocacy work.
jen cole, past president
This is Jen Cole’s fifth year on the WWN Board of Directors, and prior to serving as the current President, Jen was pleased to serve as the Communications Chair and Vice President. Having spent to last 20 years committed to gender and social justice, working at many nonprofit and government organizations around the U.S., she currently works as a Policy Analyst for the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Jen holds a B.A. in Theatre and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California and a M.P.A. with a concentration in Social Justice and Human Rights and graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University.
SARAH BARRY, treasurer
ELISE buchbinder, administrative chair
A UW-Madison grad, Elise spent three years as a manager at an online company before transitioning to work that more closely aligns with her interest in the intersection of environmental justice and gender-based violence. She is currently the Education & Communications Specialist at End Domestic Abuse WI, the statewide coalition against domestic violence. Her curiosity about systems change led her to the 2016-17 Public Policy Institute, where she learned how to effectively engage with the legislative process and began volunteering on the Policy Committee. Elise is excited to join women she admires on the board and looks forward to amplifying the voices of all WI women as she continues to learn and improve her own approach to advocacy.
Elise is a lover of coffee, books, travel, Lake Superior, and above all spending time in nature with her partner and her gentle giant of a dog.
KAREN MEULENDYKE, advancement chair
Karen has a background in non-profit and public sector training, project management and implementation, and policy. She received a Masters in Social Work form Colorado State University. Karen joined the WWN board after a couple years of volunteering for WWN's public policy committee. She is committed to WWN because she is constantly inspired and motivated by the smart, strong, independent female change-makers the WWN brings together within her community and across the state.
blair brophy, communications chair
Blair Brophy joined the Wisconsin Women’s Network as a volunteer in 2013 and became a board member in 2015. PR and Social Media Manager at Fiskars, Communications Chair for the WWN, UW-Madison grad, wife, puppy mom, feminist, traveler, coffee snob, snack aficionado and a proponent of love and acceptance.
Kate rifken, mentorship program chair
Kate has working in clinical mental health research for the past five years. She currently works at the VA Hospital in PTSD research. She recently finished her Masters in Population Health Sciences with a focus on translational research. Her interests include dissemination of research and its effects on policy and practice. Although her background is in clinical research, she is excited to take her research background and apply it towards advocacy, education, and communication of issues affecting women and girls in Wisconsin.
lacy fox, public policy chair
Lacy Fox is a Wisconsin native with a B.S. in Social Work from UW-Whitewater and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in community and organizational leadership from UW-Milwaukee. Throughout her career, Lacy has been a staunch advocate for civic engagement and promoting social change. She has worked and volunteered with organizations that advocate for responsible and effective policies to enhance the lives of women, children, and families, as well as organizations that seek fair wages and employment conditions for Wisconsin workers. Lacy started working in the State Capitol for Senator Chris Larson in 2012, where she currently works as his communications director.
lily johnson, special events chair
There has never been a more important time to be an advocate for women and girls. Lily joined Wisconsin Women's Network because as women, we lift each other up by being educated and compassionate advocates for one another. She couldn't be more proud to be part of such an amazing group of women fighting for equality in our state- now more than ever. During the day, Lily is Development Director of the Progressive and also sits on the board of New Leaders Council- Wisconsin.
tressie kamp, member at large
Tressie is a public interest attorney at Midwest Environmental Advocates, where she uses various legal, policy and advocacy tools to protect Wisconsin's water resources. Her representation of citizens who are disproportionately harmed by public health and environmental crises generated her interest in environmental factors that impact women and children in Wisconsin. Tressie enjoys outdoor adventures of any kind, particularly when the adventures include her two-year-old, her husband, and her crazy dog.
Karyl rice, member at large
Karyl Rice, treasurer of Wisconsin Women's Network, is a Madison native and a dedicated volunteer for several non-profits that focus on women's issues, racial justice, and affordable housing. She has spent most of her career as the owner of Project Solutions, assisting in the creation of over 1,500 units of affordable housing in the Midwest. She received her B.S. for the UW-Madison and loves all things Badger. As a recent empty-nester, Karyl can be found during her free time visiting her kids in Colorado and Iowa, raising an urban flock, golfing, or camping throughout Wisconsin, often with her little dog in tow.
bianca shaw, member at large
Bianca Shaw joined the WI Women's Network Board of Directors in January 2018. She is an advocate and activist by heart. She currently serves as Program Director for the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion in Milwaukee, WI. She is the program director of the non-profit's largest program, the police and resident listening circles. She has 5 years of experience working for the state of WI in the department of workforce development and with several different elected officials. A native of Milwaukee, Bianca is passionate about increasing educational, social and financial equity for low income and poor people via policy change. She is proud to serve on the WWN Board of Directors alongside women who understand the importance of the seeds being planted.
Kira stewart, member at large
Kira Stewart is a community health educator and healthy aging advocate. Her areas of expertise include family caregiving in dementia patients, minority aging and health, and chronic disease care management in cultural context. Currently she works as the Dementia Care Specialist at the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Dane County. Outside of issues on aging, Kira is active in the anti-sexual violence and human trafficking movement. Kira lives in Madison with her cat, Sammy, but makes frequent trips to Chicago, her hometown, to visit her friends and grandparents.
nicole vafadari, member at large
Nicole Vafadari joined the WWN as a volunteer in 2015 and became a board member in 2016. She grew up in a multi-cultural household in Ft. Worth Texas and moved to the mid-west at age 16. In high school, she developed an interest in politics and policy and majored in International Politics, as well as Communications and Spanish, at Western Michigan University, graduating in 2009. She currently works as the Global IT Manager for CRM & Digital Marketing at Fiskars Brands in Middleton, WI. Her interests include traveling, volunteering, watching documentaries, dancing at her stand up desk, making detailed task lists, and spending time with friends whenever possible. She is a proud Persian-American woman who is honored to serve on the board with other amazing women, fighting to improve the lives of women and children around Wisconsin.
T.r. williams, member at large
T.R. Williams was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY) where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & Africana Studies with a correlate sequence in Hispanic Studies. After living and working in New York City in the educational non- profit arena (Harlem Children’s Zone), T.R. decided to return home to Wisconsin to attend law school at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Williams began her legal career practicing family law at Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc. and later served as an Assistant State Public Defender in the Milwaukee Trial Office. In the past two years, Williams worked for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) in the Office of the Chief of Staff as the Alumni & Student Engagement Associate. In this role she created, designed and implemented the alumni engagement strategy for the largest public school district in the State of Wisconsin- an inaugural endeavor for the District. T.R. is an alumna of the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute and currently serves as a Spanish-bilingual staff attorney for the non-profit law firm Centro Legal in Milwaukee.