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Academic Resources:

Empowering Parents How School Choice Began in Wisconsin

Reviving The Economy - Ward and Siebold

The Legacy of Welfare Reform in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Role in the School Choice Movement

Tommy Thompson’s Legacy of Economic Prosperity Six Ways He Made It Happen

Transforming Welfare into Work W2 as Policy Innovation and Leadership

Public Policy Symposium--Key Speakers Announced

May 23rd Symposium Gathers Respected Talent to Review Gov. Thompson’s Policy Legacy

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2017
Contact: Brian J. Nemoir - 262.751.0448

(Madison, WI)—In advance of the rapidly-approaching May 23rd, “Tommy@30: A Public Policy Symposium” important event details have been announced including key participants, event structure and availability of published efforts.

After thirty years, the 2017 anniversary of Tommy G. Thompson’s inauguration as Wisconsin’s 42nd Governor presents an opportunity for an historical review of some of the most innovative policy development.in his record-setting 14-year tenure. Beginning at 9:00 on May 23rd, the state capitol’s Grand Army of the Republic Hall (Room 413 North) will feature, “Tommy@30: A Public Policy Symposium.”

“Tommy@30: A Public Policy Symposium” will focus on key policy innovations in the following areas: welfare reform, school choice, the economy and job creation. In each of these three key policy areas, presenters have produced two published works: an academic analysis of the impact of key policy initiatives and, a journalistic-styled historical perspective on the development of these innovations. In addition, Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will provide insight into Governor Thompson’s electoral legacy.

The featured participants will present key insights from their published works (published works will be available online the day of the event). A current list of key participants includes:

Welfare Reform, Academic Review:

Jennifer Noyes-- Jennifer L. Noyes is Associate Director of Programs and Management as well as a Distinguished Researcher with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her recent research focuses on the integration of services and programs designed to enhance the employment prospects and economic well-being of low-income families and children; the implementation of policies and programs related to welfare, child support, and child welfare; and the collaboration of the research and practitioner communities in order to improve policy and practice. She currently serves as the Project Director of the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration evaluation.

Noyes has considerable experience in the administration and evaluation of social programs, having served as a program evaluator in both the legislative and executive branches of Wisconsin state government; a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute; and a senior administrator in Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development with responsibility for Wisconsin Works (W-2), the state's welfare replacement program. She has consulted with and provided technical assistance to the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and members of Congress. Dr. Noyes received her doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welfare Reform, Historical Perspective:

Mike Flaherty--Michael Flaherty is the owner and president of Flaherty & Associates, a public policy strategic communications firm in Madison that has worked with more than 150 clients over the last 15 years.

Prior to creating F&A, Flaherty was a former prize-winning journalist for the Wisconsin State Journal, where he covered welfare reform as a state government reporter from 1994 to 1999. Flaherty previously worked as a reporter in Washington, D.C. and Minnesota — and served as temporary publisher and editor of the weekly Milton Courier in Milton, Wis. following the sudden death of his father.

School Choice, Academic Review:

John F. Witte--received his BA degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1968. Following three years as a naval intelligence officer he attended graduate school at Yale University, where he received a Masters of Philosophy (1974) and a Ph.D. (1978) in political science. From 1977 to 2012 he was a Professor in the Department of Political Science, the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, and the School Education at the University of Wisconsin Madison. He became Emeritus Professor in 2012. He was Director of the La Follette School from 1998 to 2001. From 2012 to 2013 he was the Founding Dean at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.

He has been a fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. He has been a visiting professor in Hungary, Poland, England, Australia and New Zealand. His research interests include policy analysis, democratic theory, with specialties in education and tax policy and politics. He has authored or co-authored nine books and over 75 articles, book chapters, and reports. His education research is on charter schools, open enrollment, and a longitudinal study of the Milwaukee voucher program. In 2016 he published a new book on tax reform.


Patrick J. Wolf--Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University in 1995 and previously taught at Columbia and Georgetown. Wolf mainly leads or assists with rigorous longitudinal evaluations of private school voucher programs. He has co-authored or co-edited four books and over 120 journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports on school choice, public finance, public management, special education and civic values. His latest book is The School Choice Journey: School Vouchers and the Empowerment of Urban Families. Most of his school choice research is available at http://www.uaedreform.org/school-choice-demonstration-project/.

Dr. Witte and Dr. Wolf, the preeminent experts on the school voucher programs, will be co-authoring a new study examining the lessons learned since the inception of school choice 27 years ago.

School Choice, Historical Perspective:

Steven Walters--Senior producer for WisconsinEye, Steve has covered Wisconsin's Capitol since November 1988. He was formerly Capitol bureau chief for the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was named Journalist of the year for 2012 by the Milwaukee Press Club and was a part-time UW-Madison journalism instructor for 22 years.

Economy/Job Creation, Academic Review:

Dr. David J. Ward--The CEO and founder of NorthStar Consulting of Madison and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He received his BBA, MBA and PHD from the University of Wisconsin Madison. David had a 34year career with the University of Wisconsin and was a professor of finance on UW campuses at Green Bay and Oshkosh. He also served six years as the Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for the University of Wisconsin System. His career in university administration included five years as vice chancellor for academic affairs at UW Oshkosh and interim chancellor positions at both UW Green Bay and UW Oshkosh.

Dr. Ward founded NorthStar Consulting, a private economic consulting firm, in 2000. NorthStar Consulting has played a key role in regional economic development in Wisconsin. NorthStar’s strategic economic development plan for Northeast Wisconsin led to the formation of the 18 county New North Economic Partnership. NorthStar has also done regional strategic plans for Centergy, the Grow North Region, Campbell County Kentucky, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Dr. Ward is the chair of the board of the WiSys Technology Foundation, and is on the board of the Door County Medical Center, and is the former chair of the Door County Economic Development Corporation. He is a former member of the Business and Agriculture Advisory Committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He is an active angel investor and is a founding member of the Origin Investment Group in La Crosse, Wisconsin and Angels on the Water Fund in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Economy Job Creation, Historical Perspective:

Tom Still--Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council is the non-profit, bipartisan science and technology policy advisory board to the governor and the Legislature. Its programs include the Tech Council Investor Networks, the Tech Council Innovation Network, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest and regular events that connect entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and others with a stake in the tech-based economy.

He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. Still writes a syndicated column that appears regularly in more than two-dozen publications. Still serves as a senior lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences Communication in the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The Thompson Electoral Legacy:

Craig Gilbert--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington Bureau Chief and author of “The Wisconsin Voter” political blog. Gilbert has covered every presidential campaign since 1988, and written about Wisconsin politics for nearly 30 years. He was a 2009-10 Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan, where he studied public opinion, survey research, voting behavior and statistics, a public affairs writer in residence at the University of Wisconsin and a Lubar Fellow at Marquette Law School, researching an in-depth study of one of the nation’s most polarized places, metropolitan Milwaukee. He previously worked for the Miami Herald, the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman and was a speechwriter for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Gilbert has a B.A. in History from Yale University.

The year-long Tommy@30 project was launched by alumni and colleagues of Gov. Thompson, and will feature several high-profile events throughout the year. This effort is chaired by Governor Thompson’s closest advisor, former Secretary of Administration James R. Klauser. Many other Thompson administration alumni are also donating their time and talents to the project. Generous support from foundations, individuals and corporations are helping offsetting the costs associated with the academic papers, journalistic histories and a documentary. The Executive Director of the Tommy@30 project is former State Representative Michelle Litjens.