Our Board

Members of the Board come from around the state and are appointed by the Governor to serve four-year termsAt least 60% of the membership consists of people with developmental disabilities or their family members. The remaining 40% includes representatives from state agencies, providers and other organizations within the disability community.

ELSA Diaz-Bautista

chair, milwaukee

Elsa is the executive director of Latino Alliance Applying Solutions, which promotes independence for individuals with disabilities. She is the parent of a young adult daughter living with disabilities.   

GAIL BOVY

middleton

Gail Bovy is the parent of a child with disabilities and a passionate disability advocate on the national level. While living in Washington D.C., she was instrumental in sponsoring and developing the ABLE Act legislation.

Meredith dressel

Dept. of Workforce Development, Madison

Meredith is with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. She has significant experience collaborating with statewide stakeholders to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. “I learned that it is very important for individuals with disabilities to have strong advocacy and self-determination skills.”

liz hecht

Waisman Center, madison

Liz Hecht is a Parent Projects Coordinator at the Waisman Center and serves as the Board’s liaison with the Waisman Center.

pam malin

Depere

Pam Malin is a sibling of a deceased brother with Down Syndrome and a lifelong disability advocate. She is passionate about advocating for individuals with disabilities especially in the areas of healthy relationships, boundaries, self-advocacy, safety and abuse prevention. Pam works at Disability Rights Wisconsin.

nathan ruffolo

appleton

Nathan is the sibling of a person with disabilities, a Partners in Policymaking graduate, and a longtime advocate for people with disabilities. Nathan works as a Disability Benefit Specialist with Outagamie County and Valley Packaging Industries. He represents non-profit service providers on the board.

tricia thompson

Menomonie

Tricia serves as a family member/caregiver representative on the Board. Her unique perspective comes from raising her brother as well as living with two parents who were both diagnosed with a disability. She understands the challenges individuals with disabilities and non-traditional caregivers sometimes encounter. “I feel honored to be included as a member of a group I believe is filled with authentic voices.”

george zaske

river falls

George is the parent of an adult son with a disability and has spent many years advocating for people with disabilities to be fully accepted in the community.”I want to improve society’s understanding of how much people with disabilities have to contribute to the well-being of our communities.”

gregory meyer

vice chair, monico

Greg has been very involved in the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum over the years and graduated from Partners in Policymaking. He served as Monico’s town supervisor and is currently a volunteer firefighter. “I’m a person who has a disability that doesn’t let the disability run my life.” 

kedibonye carpenter

la crosse

Kedibonye is the mother of a child with disabilities and works as an investigator with Disability Rights Wisconsin. She has worked extensively with Wisconsin educators and families to promote culturally responsive family engagement and believes that we can accomplish great things by coming together and finding our common causes.

Patrick friedrich

Milwaukee

Patrick is a self advocate.  Issues that are important to him include housing, transportation, and employment. He would like to increase his advocacy.  Here is his video statement.

desi kluth

pewaukee

Desi is determined to live a completely independent life.  “I want to make the system better so people don’t have to go through what I did when I lived in a group home.”

ashley mathey

rhinelander

Ashley is a disability advocate who has spoken around the state of Wisconsin advocating for individuals with special needs. She is a Wisconsin Policymaking Partner, Employment 1st Ambassador and President of People First’s Rhinelander Chapter. Her motto is “Cross out the Dis and Embrace the Ability.”

david pinno

new london

David is a self advocate who follows ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life) legislation on the national level. “I want people to understand the everyday economic hardships faced by people with disabilities. I want state legislators and others to realize that even small changes in laws and regulations can have a big impact on people and the community.”

Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan

shorewood

Lynn is the parent of a young adult with autism. As an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, she coordinates the autism spectrum disorders certificate, license and Master’s program. Lynn serves on numerous boards of non-profits that serve people with autism and developmental disabilities. “I am working to provide more post-secondary supports for individuals on the college campus.”

Houa Yang

Madison

I hope that with my personal experience of being a caregiver and family member of someone with a disability that I can help speak out on behalf of him and others.  I want to help make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

Barbara beckert

Disability Rights Wisconsin , milwaukee

Barbara has worked for many years advocating for individuals with disabilities through her position at Disability Rights Wisconsin. Barbara is committed to providing high-quality and adequate community supports that are critical for people with complex disabilities so they are both safe and welcome in their communities. “We all have a role to play in supporting people with disabilities to have productive lives!”

kevin coughlin

Dept. of Health Services, Madison

Kevin works for the Division of Medicaid Services as a Policy Initiative Advisor. He is one of the board’s official state agency representatives. “I am honored to serve on the Board and collaborate with the many partners to improve services for our Wisconsin citizens.”

robert kuhr

menasha

 Robert is a self-advocate and a founding member of People First of Neenah-Menasha. “I like to be on the board to make change in the disability world. I like to challenge other people with disabilities and providers without disabilities to make change.”   

daniel parker

Dept. of Public Instruction, madison

Daniel Parker is the assistant director of special education at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Board’s liaison with the Department of Public Instruction.

hector portillo

madison

Hector works at the Department of Public Instruction as a statewide family engagement coordinator. He is the Executive Director and founder of PADRES E HIJOS EN ACCION. “I envision a world in which all people with disabilities have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, and strengthen the civic life of the community as a whole. I see the Board as an opportunity to reach this goal.”

andy thain

thorp

Andy Thain is a self-advocate with cerebral palsy. From 2011-2016, he started and ran his own business that helped other people with disabilities who relied on in-home care,  He is very interested in addressing the caregiver shortage as well as issues around integrated employment for people with disabilities. “I believe given the right supports everyone should be able to have the opportunity to work and live fulfilling lives.”

Chris Wood

Eau Claire

I look forward to being able to represent Western Wisconsin on the board. It’s an area of the state that I feel is sometimes overlooked. My personal favorite areas of disability Policy include ADA compliance transportation issues and the caregiving crisis.