Class of 2019

Meet the 26 women of the Class of 2019

This year’s chosen group of 26 political leaders is shaping up to be one of Emerge Wisconsin’s best ever, with women from all parts of the Badger State, who come from diverse backgrounds and span the spectrum of races, sexual orientation, socioeconomic levels and professional experiences.

Barbara Alvarez

Barbara Alvarez is passionate about information access. She is the co-founder of The Library OnConference, a free virtual conference with nearly 500 participants from 39 countries. Additionally, she received the 2017 PrivCo Award for Outstanding Business Librarianship and the 2015 Public Librarian Support Award. Barbara is the author of the book Embedded Business Librarianship for the Public Librarian with ALA Editions. She received a Master in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois. Barbara serves as an Executive Board member with Sheboygan County Democrats and was campaign manager to Alexandra Nugent’s, Emerge Alumnae, winning campaign for Town Board.

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Gabrielle Aranda-Pino

Gabby Aranda is a recent first generation graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and Integrative Studies in Science, Engineering, and Society. She is extremely passionate about social justice, racial justice, mental health awareness, and reproductive justice. She aspires to go to law school and run for public office in the near future.

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Danielle Bailey

Danielle Bailey is an employment discrimination attorney, mother of 2 young children, legal writer and trainer, human rights advocate, Board Chair/Member of non-profits focused on arts and education, LGTBQ issues, racial equity and inclusion, and professional diversity and the law. Danielle is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Emerge WI Class. Her spirit of service is embodied in both her professional and personal life, and running for public office is a natural extension of her instinct to advocate for herself and others.

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Melissa Biel

Melissa Biel is excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Emerge class of 2019. Melissa lives in Beaver Dam with her husband and two young sons. Melissa is passionate about education and the environment and hopes to become a stronger advocate for both in her community. She looks forward to learning from other women in public service and politics to prepare for a future in public office herself, or assisting on other political campaigns.

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Jenifer Cole

Jenifer is a creative, dynamic public affairs professional with experience in public sector administration, legislative processes, board relations, non-profit and grant management, coalition/consensus building, advocacy, and program and project management. The majority of her career–professional, educational, and voluntary–has been focused on social justice and gender equity.

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Natalie Czarkowski

Natalie’s experience working with disaster victims ignited her advocacy work. “By definition, a disaster will always cause damage- but the fallout is magnified by poverty. Intentional and informed policy can stop preventable suffering and strengthen the whole community.” Natalie hopes to empower more people to realize their connection to policy and how it shapes life at the most fundamental level. “Our resilience is a function of our health and our access to food, education, housing, healthcare, family-supporting wages, and so many other things. Health equity must be considered in policy making because a healthy community is a resilient community.”

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Michelle Dunphy

Michelle Dunphy asked Santa for super powers for Christmas and he told her to run for office someday instead so she’s excited to be joining this Emerge class. Michelle keeps busy volunteering, along with serving as Vice Chair of Volunteers for her county party and Development Director for Brighter Tanzania Foundation. In her free time, she enjoys running (slowly!), reading and recreating “bakes” from the Great British Bake Off with her two young sons.

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Lynnsey Erickson

Lynnsey Erickson plans to run for public office to include people historically left out of the policy process. Too often policies are made about us without us. Lynnsey lives and works in Oshkosh as a Community Health Strategist at a local public health department. She also coordinates the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute. Her life has always involved service, including serving two years as a Wisconsin HealthCorps AmeriCorps member. She currently volunteers with the Oshkosh Food Co-op and League of Women Voters of Winnebago County and mentors at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh.

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Anna Goldstein

Anna Goldstein is a recent alum of Marquette University’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences and a young professional living on the East Side of Milwaukee. She currently serves as the Outreach and Teen Philanthropy Coordinator for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, running several outreach and engagement programs for Jews living across the greater Milwaukee area. She is excited to continue her community outreach and organizing experience by exploring opportunities in public service through the Emerge Wisconsin program!

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Elena Haasl

Elena Haasl is currently a freshmen at UW-Madison studying Community and Environmental Sociology and Political Science. She is excited to be a future Wisconsin representative and looks forward to serving the public. Elena loves cats, coffee, and the environment.

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Erica Halverson

Erica Halverson is a Professor of Education at UW-Madison and the Mayor of Whoopensocker, an arts outreach program working in schools and community centers across Dane County. Erica has dedicated her career to building arts experiences that improve kids lives – she is the founder of both Barrel of Monkeys in Chicago and of Whoopensocker and she is a fierce advocate for the role of the arts as a force for positive change. She is excited to translate her work with teachers, students, and community artists into the political arena!

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Kathy Hinkfuss

Kathy has always been the person helping a candidate doing doors making calls and doing whatever is necessary. In the spring of 2018 she ran for the City of Green Bay Alderperson. While she did not win, the process confirmed her passion and willingness to represent her neighbors and friends.

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Megan Holbrook

Megan is a digital strategist, working primarily with nonprofit organizations. She’s currently also finishing up her masters degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at UWM. Megan is the founder of the political action community on Facebook, The Next Four Years – Milwaukee (, and has worked as a Staging Location Director on political campaigns in 2016 and 2018. She is excited to be starting the Emerge training!

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Kristen Keyser

Kristen is thrilled to expand and grow her knowledge of the political process so she can best serve her community. Kristen looks forward to combining her background as a Democratic party volunteer and coordinator with her love of interacting with and advocating for constituents.

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Abby Korb

Abby Korb is a junior at Ripon College studying Politics & Government and Psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school and get a Masters in either Public Policy or Political Psychology. She just finished an internship/fellowship with Senator Baldwin’s campaign as well as the Coordinated Campaign with the DPW, and is looking forward to learning more about running for office! After her graduate degree and working in DC for a while, she hopes to run for office. She will be spending her summer as a Political Psychology intern in DC at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). She is grateful for all of these new and exciting experiences coming her way!

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Ashley Kortte

Ashley Kortte’s love for the small town where she grew up brought her back to raise her daughters and inspired her to run for public office. She is actively involved with her community and thrives on improving the future of her town. Ms. Kortte is also an analyst who has worked for a subsidiary of Major League Baseball Advanced Media for the past 18 years. She holds a Civil Engineering degree and Project Management certifications. Her goal is to continue her successes and be an example for women who want to pursue public office and other generally male dominated fields.

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Abigail Lowery

A desire to be a positive force in social progress is Abigail’s main motivator for her participation in Emerge Wisconsin and elected office. Several disappointing elections in state and national elections compelled her to be the change she wanted to see, and she started by running for the DeForest Village Board and winning in 2017. Prior to that she worked in various jobs supporting people with disabilities and taught for five years as a special education teacher. She has had the privilege the last three years of staying home full-time with her two young children and volunteering throughout her community.

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Allison Martinson

Allison is a problem-solver, focused on improving the lives of others. An active volunteer and nonprofit employee, Allison sits on the Madison Food Policy Council, is an organizer for the Science & Environmental Educators of Madison, and is running for City Council in Madison’s District 19.

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Morgan Norton

Morgan Norton is a lifelong Democrat. As a young person in her hometown she always felt like a lone progressive and queer voice. That led to her learning and understanding of the need for compromise and communication in the political sphere. As a college student Morgan advocated for human rights, bringing awareness to local and international issues. She strives to one day be a leader that can represent the various voices and beliefs of her district.

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Kimberly OmniEssence

Kimberly OmniEssence serves as Instructional Chair of the Speech Department at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and Communication from Marist College and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Regent University. She has a wealth of experience working in higher education and is a veteran of the United States Navy. As a veteran of the United States Navy, she brings a wealth of cross-cultural experience. She currently serves as a Board of Directors Communication Analyst for the Wisconsin Association of Nurse Practitioners. Mrs. OmniEssence is dedicated to making lasting change in the field of education and within the community.

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Elizabeth Schroeder

Elizabeth is a proud, lifelong Wisconsinite. She works in marketing and digital strategy for a Madison-based sustainability nonprofit. In her free time, she serves as Email Marketing Manager for the Madison chapter of the American Marketing Association, and as Social Media Content Curator for the Lose the Cape podcast, which focuses on the intersection between parenting and activism. Most importantly, Elizabeth is mom to a young daughter who she’s determined to build a kinder, safer, and more more equitable world for.

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Andy Shagoury

Andy Shagoury is looking forward to running for office. Her unique professional background in both national security and marketing will be assets in campaigning for public office. An energetic and focused native of the Washington DC area, Andy got right to work in finding ways to resist the Trump administration when she moved to Wisconsin in 2015. Andy is currently on the Democratic Party of Washington County (DPWC) Executive Board and Chair of the DPWC Communications Committee and manages her Facebook page, WOW County Progressives She lives with her husband Rick and their two dogs, Oscar and Ducky, in Hartford, Wisconsin.

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Kristina Shelton

Kristina Shelton was recently appointed to the Green Bay Area Public School Board in August 2018. She plans to run in the April 2019 election to keep her school board seat. Kristina is looking forward to learning more about campaigning and connecting with other women from around Wisconsin!

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Ashley Skoczynski

Ashley Skoczynski is looking forward to serving the members of her community using servant leadership principles. She will listen to the needs of the people and will work to create positive transformation in groups and systems. Ashley will bring strategic thinking, transparency, and passion to her position for the benefit of current and future generations.

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Erin Stilp

Erin Stilp is a mom, a wife, a lawyer, and a community organizer. She is dedicated to her city of Milwaukee and making it a better place for all its citizens. Previously, in her 10 years as an Administrative Judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Erin worked for equal justice, often by assisting disputing parties find common ground. More recently as an OFA Fellow, Erin fought to make sure every vote counts, a fundamental bedrock of our democracy. Finally, as a lead organizer with Common Ground, Erin promoted smart guns – a common sense life-saving solution – through market-based methods.

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Maiyoua Thao

Maiyoua Thao is a mother of six children, a wife of Chungyia Thao and an entrepreneur. She had contributed a great amount of her times and energy to support many community initiatives in the Fox Valley. Thao graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a Master of Science in Education. She is the owner of Thao Enterprises, Tongxeng Personal Home care, and Longcheng Marketplace. Collectively, her businesses employ over 300 employees. Thao is involved with many community workshops and programs in the Fox Valley. Currently, Maiyoua is an active central planning committee member for the Fox Cities Hmong New Year.

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