Signature Program

Leadership Wisconsin’s Signature Program is designed for residents from diverse backgrounds who share a strong desire to actively participate in meeting the challenges facing their organizations and communities. This 2-year hands-on leadership development experience takes leaders out of the traditional classroom and exposes them to people, places, ideas, and issues they might not otherwise encounter.

Participants will enhance their personal, interpersonal, organizational, and community leadership skills. They will gain a broadened understanding of local, state, and national issues, and are prepared to apply their leadership skills to affect positive change in a dynamic multicultural world.

Meet Group XVII (2016 – 2018)

Leadership Wisconsin is proud to present the Fellows of Group XVII! To read more about each individual, click on the name below their photo.


Group XVII Updates


Erceg’s Connecting You to Croatia Blog: Politics and Geography, February 26, 2018

Written by: Aleksandar Erceg, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar Government (Vlada), Parliament (Sabor), and the President (Predsjednik) are all situated in Zagreb. Zagreb is the place of political power of Croatia. Everything important is here. So that is why you will be there as well. And now something about the political system of Croatia…(not […]

Erceg’s Connecting You to Croatia Blog: Zagreb – Croatian Headquarters – Everything Important is Here!, February 21, 2018

Written by: Aleksandar Erceg, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar Let’s go with blog No. 3 and talk (write) about Zagreb. Zagreb is the Croatian capital, largest city (with circa 850.000 inhabitants), the center of political, economic and basically any power. There is a saying – if you are not present in Zagreb then you […]

Erceg’s Connecting You to Croatia Blog: Transitioning Industry in Osijek, February 14, 2018

Written by: Aleksandar Erceg, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar Osijek, Slavonia – what you will see and hear, and what we will only mention… During last year’s pre-visit to Osijek and Slavonia by the seminar co-chairs, we presented the best of what Osijek can offer in entrepreneurship, industry, agriculture and the IT sector. And […]

Baye’s Pre-Croatia Blog: Agrarian Roots, February 8, 2018

Written by: Tim Baye, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar Agrarian roots. A history tied to the development of farming. Diversified production, with strong ties to livestock agriculture. Sound familiar? Well, such is the shared history of Wisconsin and Slavonia, the most eastern region of Croatia. Slavonia is Croatia’s breadbasket. The counties of Osijek-Baranja, Brod-Posavina, […]

Erceg’s Connecting You to Croatia Blog: First Stop – Osijek, Slavonia, February 5, 2018

Written by: Aleksandar Erceg, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar I have just finished reading Tim Baye’s blog for pre-Croatia trip preparation and he started with good preparation for your visit to Croatia. As Tim mentioned five regions in Croatia, I will start with the last on his list but the first one you will […]

Baye’s Pre-Croatia Blog: An Educator’s Perspective on the Value of the International Seminar, January 23, 2018

Written by: Tim Baye, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar Recently, I was asked to draft a response to the question: Help us better understand the value of the International Seminar in the field of education. What benefit will we, educators, receive from this experience? My response was as follows: Increasingly, perhaps even to go […]

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII to Study Water Issues

Written by Linda ZIllmer, Signature Program Group XVII Inspired and motivated by November’s successful Food Systems seminar held in LaCrosse, Leadership Wisconsin Signature Program Group XVII fellows have been hard at work to deliver a second fellow-planned and fellow-led seminar on Natural Resources in February. This seminar will be held February 21-23, 2018 Stevens Point and will focus on water issues in Wisconsin’s […]

Baye’s Pre-Croatia Blog: A Brief Comparison of Croatia and Wisconsin, January 11, 2018

Written by: Tim Baye, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar As I sit at my desk, gazing outside the window, I see overcast and fog. The thermometer reads 44F, an appreciated break from the brutal cold of the past two weeks. I check in on the weather reports of three of our destination cities: Split, 53F, […]

Baye’s Pre-Croatia Blog: An Invitation for Adventurous Dining, January 3, 2018

Written by: Tim Baye, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar As I sit at my desk fending off the frigid “Saskatchewan Screamer” of 2017-18 my mind has wandered to our upcoming adventure to Hrvatska. I am honored and excited to be one of you seminar leaders. [Read Tim’s Bio]. I expect to send off a number of […]

Food Systems Seminar a Success

Written by Mary Hookham, Group XVII    Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellows recently participated in their first Fellow-planned seminar. They studied food systems in the La Crosse, Wisconsin area and had abundant opportunities to listen to and consider a wide variety of perspectives exploring the question, “How do we guide the food system to sustain […]

Support Group XVII in the Final Stretch

2017 is ending…,but Group XVII has 6 months remaining in their Signature Program experience! They have three final seminars: their February Natural Resources Seminar in Stevens Point, their April/May International experience in Croatia, and their June Capstone Seminar in Ashland/Bayfield. Alumni of WRLP/Leadership Wisconsin know that working hard in the program is not the only […]

A Minnesotan’s Perspective on Leadership Wisconsin’s Seminar in California

Article Written by: Jim Checkel, Kasson, MN, graduate of Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program (MARL)Originally published in MARL online monthly newsletter Leadership Wisconsin study tour to California September 2017 One lesson learned in MARL is that you never know where the next opportunity to learn will occur. Recently MARL leadership was contacted by the […]

Fellow Feature: Linda Zillmer

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Linda Zillmer and I live in rural, northern Wisconsin, near where my great-grandparents immigrated and settled in the cutover lands during the late 1800’s. The histories of the peoples here, along with our connections to the environment and each other, shaped my values and drive my […]

Fellow Feature: Harry Hertel

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Harry Hertel, and I am an attorney with Hertel Law, S.C. in Eau Claire. Originally from West Allis, I graduated from Carroll College with a degree in International Relations. My interest in that field resulted from time spent in Germany as an AFS student in high […]

PHOTOS: U.S. Travel Seminar to California

The 2017 U.S. Travel Seminar brought Leadership Wisconsin Signature Program Fellows and Seminar Scholars to the Bay Area and Central Valley of California where they studied food systems and their relationship to community and economic development. This group visited small farms, learned about public policy, and toured entrepreneurial ventures. Through their travels and studies, they […]

Fellow Feature: Alison Duff

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Alison Duff and I am an ecologist with the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center. In my work, I explore the opportunities that exist for working farms to serve as both production and conservation lands. I am passionate about providing agricultural producers with tools and evidence that […]

Welcome Group XVII Signature Program Coordinator, Victoria Solomon

Leadership Wisconsin is excited to welcome our new Signature Program Coordinator, Victoria Solomon, who joined the Leadership Wisconsin team in July. In this role, Solomon will support the curriculum, instruction and planning of the Signature Program and support Group XVII throughout the remainder of their experience. In addition to her new role as the Signature […]

Leadership Wisconsin Featured in Wisconsin Counties Association Magazine

Leadership Wisconsin is honored to be featured in the July 2017 and August 2017 issues of the Wisconsin Counties Association Magazine. This monthly publication features news and updates about issues facing county government officials and Wisconsin communities. The July 2017 issue featured writing contributions from Leadership Wisconsin Executive Director, Sarah Schlosser, and Group XVII Fellow, […]

Fellow Feature: Aurora Conley

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Aurora Conley and I am Anishinaabe from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior where I work as the Litigation Support Specialist for Bad River Tribe’s Legal Department. My community life extends beyond my professional work, however; where I serve as Vice-Chair on the Anishinaabe Environmental […]

National Policy Seminar Teaches Group XVII Important Lessons

Written by Mary Hookham, Janesville, WI Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellows recently spent a week in Washington, D.C. for their National Policy seminar. Fellows were met with many different perspectives on important issues and enjoyed the immersion into the culture and society of the city. The seminar’s focus was to take a look at policy-making […]

Fellow Feature: Rebecca Nichols

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Rebecca Nichols and I am a third-term alderperson in the City of Menasha. First elected in 2013, I enjoy working with residents, businesses and the greater community to make Menasha a great place to live, work and raise a family. During my tenure, I have been […]

Group XVII Continues on Signature Program Journey

After nearly a year with Leadership Wisconsin, Group XVII prepares for the remainder of their Signature Program experience. The program “Fellows” will graduate in July 2018, joining the community of over four-hundred Leadership Wisconsin and WRLP alumni. The group traveled to Washington DC in April where they studied national policy as it relates to their […]

Fellow Feature: Jan Dworschak

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Jan Dworschak and I live in Arcadia where I serve as a music minister for several area churches and provide piano and organ lessons. I returned to my hometown in March 2010 to care for my mother when she returned home from the hospital on hospice […]

Fellow Feature: Jennifer Thatcher

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Jen Thatcher and I am a self-employed finance and small business consultant in Wilson, Wisconsin where I live with my husband and two children. I enjoy landscaping, fishing, exploring, and people. I have a masters in business administration and finance, and bachelor of arts degree from Bethel […]

Leadership Wisconsin’s criminal justice seminar tugs at heartstrings

Written by Mary Hookham, Janesville, WI Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII’s seminar centering on the study of criminal justice issues in Madison proved useful and interesting to all participants as they listened to speakers, toured local facilities and evaluated Wisconsin statistics. But most importantly, it enlightened the Fellows of Group XVII when they heard personal, heart-wrenching […]

Fellow Feature: Mary Hookham

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is Mary Hookham and I live in Janesville with my husband Matt. I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer working primarily for Agri-View Newspaper of Madison and am so grateful to have the career path of my dreams! I am excited to be a member of Leadership […]

Studying Education Provides Group XVII with New Perspectives

Written by Mary Hookham, Janesville, WI September 2016:  Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII’s seminar centering around the study of education issues in Milwaukee proved to be a useful tool for all Fellows in not only learning the basics of public and private educational institutions around the state but also in fine-tuning their initial leadership skills both […]

A Summary of Group XVII’s Exploration of Education

Written by Alison Duff, Baraboo, WI Day 1: Learning a method for how we can be effective in public life, led by Tom Mosgaller In civic life, we’re sloppy, and the results are sloppyHow can we become more effective citizens, and more effective leaders? Our work begins when we elect people to public service, and […]

Fellow Feature: Veronica Chavez

Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature My name is  Veronica Chavez.  A am a single mother and entrepreneur born in Douglas, Arizona and raised in Wisconsin.  I am a business owner of a nail salon (V’Dazzled Nail Spa & Boutique) in Madison, Wisconsin going on 5 years.  I take time to talk and learn from […]

Yes, And! Using Improv to Develop Leadership Skills

The sport of Tooth Brushing was recently added to the Olympics!  Don’t believe us?  Well, you are correct, the sport is not recognized officially by the International Olympic Committee.  But don’t tell that to Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII.  At their Foundational Seminar in Osseo this last August they held a Tooth Brushing competition complete with […]

Introducing Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII

Leadership Wisconsin is honored to introduce the newest participants of our Signature Program.  The Fellows of Group XVII come from communities across the state – Ashland to Madison, and Eau Claire to Manitowoc.  Their backgrounds include agriculture, education, law, natural resources, music, small business, government, and science. Designed for residents from diverse backgrounds, Leadership Wisconsin’s […]

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