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 board 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 access to quality healthcare was a 45 minute drive away, and only if you had insurance. She earned her 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 of 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.
T.r. williams, VICE PRESIDENT
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. She currently works as the Advocacy & Government Relations Specialist for the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. T.R. is an alumna of the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute.
jenifer D. cole, past president
Jenifer has served on the WWN Board of Directors since 2013, and prior to serving as the current Past President, Jenifer was pleased to serve as the Communications Chair, Vice President, and 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 Program and Policy Supervisor for the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Jenifer holds a BA in Theatre and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a MPA with a concentration in Social Justice and Human Rights and graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
SARAH BARRY, treasurer
Sarah joined the Wisconsin Women's Network Board in 2018 after serving as a mentor in the mentorship program for three years. She has found great professional and personal satisfaction helping young women navigate the professional world. She is a strong supporter of the organization, participating in many of the Network's public events. Sarah is a committed feminist and she believes in the mission and strength of the Wisconsin Women's Network.
Sarah currently serves as Chief of Staff for State Senator Patty Schachtner. Prior to that, Sarah managed issue advocacy for two non-profit organizations. She also previously worked in leadership roles in the Wisconsin State Senate for over a decade. Sarah is a 2001 graduate of the La Follette School of Public Affairs.
tressie kamp, Administrative chair
Tressie is a staff 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 children, her husband, and her crazy 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 joined the Wisconsin Women's Network as a volunteer in 2016. She currently works at the Department of Health Services as a Policy Analyst in substance use services. Kate has previously worked in at the VA Hospital in Mental Health research as well as with UW-Madison in mindfulness research. She is passionate about the intersection of data and evaluation with advocacy, education, and policy - specifically 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 has worked in the State Legislature since 2012, where she currently serves as Chief of Staff for Senator LaTonya Johnson.
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.
ELISE BUCHBINDER, MEMBER AT LARGE
A UW-Madison grad, Elise spent three years as a manager at an online company in Madison before transitioning to work that more closely aligns with her interest in gender-based violence. She is currently the Education & Communications Coordinator at End Domestic Abuse WI, the statewide coalition against domestic violence, and now lives in the northwestern part of the state. 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 proud to work alongside 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.
Adrienne Ramirez, member at large
Adrienne worked in a variety of legislative offices over the past few decades, wrapping up her legislative career as Chief of Staff for Assembly Speaker Pro Temp Tony Staskunas. While in the legislature she worked on numerous judiciary and criminal justice initiatives. In 2016 she joined the Wisconsin Women’s Network as a volunteer mentor for the Policy Institute and was energized by the enthusiasm and sisterhood the institute provided. She has enjoyed a variety of other volunteer opportunities from food preservation for a local food pantry, to committee membership for DAIS. She currently works in government affairs for a multi-state utility. She became a board member in 2019.
kara pennoyer, MEMBER at large
Kara Pennoyer joined the Wisconsin Women's Network Board in 2015 and has served as the vice chair and policy chair. As the policy chair, Kara was able to work closely with the policy institute and continues to be committed to growing the amount of women working in policy advocacy.
Kara currently serves as a Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Tony Evers, overseeing the Governor's legislative and policy teams and general office operations. Prior to that, Kara spent nine years working for Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling. Kara is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a 2008 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs' MPA program.
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 is currently serving as the Urban Director for the Department of Children and Families. An energized and enthusiastic community advocate, Bianca has a passion for people. Bianca has previously worked at the Hunger Taskforce in Foodshare and as a Program Director at the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion. She also has a deep appreciation for policy, organizing, and bringing about awareness on various topics. Bianca is a proud graduate of the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute and Emerge Wisconsin. She has served as a legislative aide in the State of Wisconsin Legislature. Her belief in the collective power of women has led to the creation of several community-support groups that focus on amplifying the voices of women of color and creating spaces for dialogue to occur. In addition to the WI women's Network she also serves on the board of the Victory Garden Initiative and Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health. Bianca is also the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, Olivia.
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.