Board of Visitors

The Board of Visitors serves as an external advisory body to the dean. Members of the board have attained prominence in their field and are chosen because of their value in providing sound advice and counsel. Board membership includes graduates, emeritus faculty and staff, and friends of the School of Education. The current members of the board are:

Mary Gulbrandsen, Chair of Board 

Mary Gulbrandsen is executive director of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS), founded in 2007. The FFWS is a private not-for-profit foundation providing need-based grants to recent graduates of Wisconsin public high schools who are attending University of Wisconsin universities full time. A pediatric nurse practitioner and former school district administrator, Mary continues to dedicate her career to helping children by combining her interest and expertise in health care and education.

Gulbrandsen joined the Madison Metropolitan School District in the mid-1980’s to implement and run the program that placed health-services staff in all Madison public schools. She served in a variety of leadership roles in the school district during her nearly thirty-year tenure, including as chief of staff and director of student services, where she worked on long-range planning, finance and operations, and programs designed to improve student achievement and well-being.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, and  master’s degrees in pediatric nursing and in administrative medicine, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  Gulbrandsen devotes substantial time to volunteerism, committee work, and board service. She is currently a board member of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars, and the Oakwood Foundation.

Stacey Brickson

Stacey Brickson received a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy (PT) and a certificate of athletic training (ATC) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1992), and earned her Ph.D. through the Department of Kinesiology in exercise physiology (2002). She has worked in many aspects of health care, including clinical practice, industry, and academics.  Currently, she has a private physical therapy practice, CronoPT, and teaches anatomy and physiology at Madison Area Technical College.

Born and raised on a farm in Edgerton, Wisconsin, Badger blood runs deep in Brickson’s family. Her great-great grandfather, Magnus Swenson, received  one of the first research degrees ever awarded at the University of Wisconsin in 1882.

Brickson lives with her husband, Tom, in Middleton, Wisconsin. Her two children are students at Iowa State University. An avid cyclist and cycling advocate, she can often be found enjoying her bicycle on the road, mountain trail, or snow, and is a board member of the Capital Off Road Pathfinders.

Kathy Chazen

Kathy Chazen launched a career in the insurance industry after graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has had an insurance and estate planning practice in New York City since that time. She is currently a trustee of National Jewish Hospital, board member of the 92nd Street Y in New York, and is involved in arts and music education for New York City public schools, as well as a board member for The Jewelry Center at 92Y. She is an active and longtime supporter of the UJA Federation. She also serves on the board of the University of Wisconsin Hillel and the Chazen Museum of Art Advisory Council.

Chazen was a founding member of the Stop AIDS Project, a non-profit organization for AIDS education, and a founding member of the Asthma Immunology and Respiratory (AIR) Society, a non-profit organization to benefit National Jewish Hospital.

Chazen received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the School of Education in 1974. She lives in New York City with her husband, Larry Miller, a music executive and professor at New York University; her daughter, Anna; and son, Zachary. She comes from a family of Badgers, including her son, Zach, her two nephews, Ross and AJ Banon, and her parents, Jerome and Simona Chazen — longtime supporters of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Eric Flanagan

Eric Flanagan lives in Chicago and is a clinical counselor and vocational consultant for Paradigm Complex Care Solutions, a national disability management provider. In addition to counseling, he works with private companies, law firms, and the insurance industry on return-to-work issues for individuals with disabilities. He has experience serving adults with disabilities in the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Dane County Public Defender’s Office, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. While in grad school, he served on the Wisconsin Rehabilitation Counselor and Educators Association (WRCEA) board.

Flanagan was born in Dublin, Ireland. He attended primary school in Hong Kong before returning to Ireland. After an experience working as a special education classroom assistant in Dublin, he transferred from the University College Dublin to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a Junior to study in the School of Education, earning both his bachelor’s degree (’09) and master’s degree (’10) in rehabilitation psychology. He was also a 2009 Meyerhoff Award winner in International Student Services.

He currently serves as a board member and vice-president of the Delta Upsilon of Wisconsin Foundation. Previously, he enjoyed volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, both in Madison and Chicago.

Edward Holmes

Dr. Ed Holmes is the senior vice president of equity and innovation at the Overture Center for the Arts. Previously, he was the director of diversity and inclusion implementing Overture Center’s Racial Equity Initiative. Holmes hails from Washington, D.C. He came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he completed his undergraduate degree in English and political science, a master’s of social work, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis.

Holmes established the Ebony Expression Cultural Awareness Project in 1982; he received congressional recognition for this innovative program dedicated to the development of the talents of African American youth, and the education of the broader community about the richness and significance of African American culture. His career has focused on implementing creative, community-based educational programs, and creating inclusive, engaging, academically successful public schools.

He received the prestigious Milken Educator of the Year award for the state of Wisconsin in 2003 for his work in the revitalization of Wright Middle School. Holmes successfully led Madison West High School for a decade, one of the top public high schools in the state of Wisconsin and nation. He also received the state of Wisconsin’s first Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Award.

Anand Marri

Anand Marri will become dean of Ball State University’s Teachers College beginning July 1, 2020. He previously served as the dean of University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education. He is the former vice president and head of outreach and education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and was a professor of social studies and education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Marri’s academic research focused on economic literacy, civic and multicultural education, teacher education, and urban education. He received over $5.5 million in grants from individuals and organizations such as TC Trustee Joyce Cowin, Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York State Education Department, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served as one of the authors of The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, first published in 2013 as the guide for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners to strengthen their social studies programs. Marri was also an author in Teaching the Levees: A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement (Teachers College Press, 2008.)

Marri earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2003.

Pat Neudecker

Pat Neudecker has a bachelor of science in education from University of Wisconsin–Stout and a master of science and Ph.D. in education leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin­–Madison. She currently works in higher education in Milwaukee, developing and supervising administrative leadership programs for principal preparation, and is also involved with national women’s leadership consortiums.

Neudecker has been a public school educator in Wisconsin for over 35 years, recently as superintendent of schools in Oconomowoc. During her career, she served as national president for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and on other state and national committees. She received the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) Educator of the Year and Distinguished Service Awards, and the national American Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award. Neudecker has traveled and visited education systems in Germany, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Poland. She participates in a leadership group committed to addressing international educational social justice issues.

Neudecker is married with two grown sons and three grandchildren. A strong believer in community service, she is a member of Rotary International, and has served on local boards including the Oconomowoc Area Foundation, YMCA, and the Oconomowoc Education Foundation. She enjoys time with family, travel, swimming, and supporting the arts.

Susan Patterson

Susan Solie Patterson is a New York Times best-selling co-author of children’s books with her husband, James Patterson. She spent many years in advertising as an art director and SVP at J. Walter Thompson USA/NY, and is also an accomplished photographer. She currently serves on the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Board of Directors. Patterson is a trustee at Palm Beach Day Academy and Dreyfoos School of the Arts, as well as a Town of Palm Beach Landmarks Commissioner.

Patterson is committed to promoting literacy. She has a passion for helping kids learn to read. With the publication of their children’s books she has achieved a dream since her graduation from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. These vocabulary-building books engage even the most reluctant readers and their families.

She has been a Badger from birth. Both of her parents were graduates: mother Lorraine Solie, ’46, studied nursing, and father Orville Solie, ’50, MS ’51, studied art and English. Patterson earned two degrees, bachelor of science and master of fine arts, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education. She was a swim team captain, Big Ten record holder, and All American swimmer. The Pattersons live in Palm Beach, Florida, and their son, Jack, is a senior at Brown University. Summer months are spent in Briarcliff Manor, NY.

Carla Austin, Board of Visitors

Carla Austin

Carla Austin was born and raised on the east side of Madison. She was a first-generation college student and earned her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She met her husband there, as well. In 1982, the couple moved to Dallas, Texas, where they raised two children.

Austin has retired from her pediatric occupational therapy practice but continues with board and committee work with three nonprofits serving individuals with special needs in the Dallas Metropolitan area. She is passionate about education and occupational therapy’s unique contribution to the functioning of children and their families. She is inspired by working with children and witnessing their parents’ dedication to them. Her volunteer work is a daily reminder of what is helpful in life — being helpful, telling someone you love them, and taking time to appreciate the small joys.

Austin and her husband enjoy biking and traveling, and are especially happy when they combine the two on bike vacations. She enjoys reading and gardening, and follows Badger football and basketball.

Photo of Helen Burish

Helen Burish

Helen Burish, a Wisconsin native and first-generation Greek, received her bachelor’s (1975) and master’s (1995) degrees in art education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her 27-year teaching career included positions at Green Bay Preble High School and Middleton High School, where she served as chair of the Art Department. During her tenure at Middleton, Burish developed and advanced the school’s first photography program, highlighting both darkroom and digital alternative processes. As an associate of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID), she also has contributed concepts and interior design services for Epic Systems Corporation and Milestone Senior Living.

Burish currently enjoys her role as chair of both the Chazen Museum of Art Council and the University of Wisconsin Art Department Board of Visitors, where she is able to further her passion for the arts and education, as well as elevate them in the community through museum collaboration. She has served on local boards, including Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) and the University of Wisconsin Medical School’s Healthy Classroom Foundation.

Among her many interests outside the art world, Burish especially enjoys golf, biking, and travel. She and her husband have participated in two around-the-world trips, one sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, and most recently have explored Antarctica.


Karen Falk

Karen Falk completed her bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with an emphasis in special education. After graduation, she spent several years teaching at the middle- and high-school levels, and also taught independent living skills to young adults with special needs. Following that, she transitioned her skills to the business environment, where she designed and implemented computer and network training programs.

Falk and her husband, Tom, are committed to make a lasting change in their community and are currently serving as the co-chairs of the 2020 Annual Campaign for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. She is also involved in Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas and has served as a judge in the Youth-of-the-Year competition for many years.

She continues to satisfy her passion for education and the causes and effects of poverty through non-profit organizations in her community. The Falks reside in Dallas, Texas.

Robert A. Frahm
Bob Frahm is a freelance journalist, writing about education for over 40 years. A former high school English teacher, he began his journalism career in Wisconsin covering the education beat for the Racine Journal-Times. In 1984, he moved to Connecticut as the chief education reporter for the Hartford Courant, writing on topics such as testing, teacher quality, and school reform. He wrote extensively about school desegregation, including Connecticut’s Sheff vs. O’Neill lawsuit. After leaving the Courant in 2007, he did freelance work and in 2009 joined the staff of the Connecticut Mirror, a startup online news service focusing on statewide governmental issues including education. After working at the Mirror for a year, he began part-time freelance work for the Mirror and other organizations. 

He was a board member of the Education Writers Association for 11 years and EWA’s president from 1995 to 1997. His numerous writing awards include the nation’s top prize for education reporting from EWA in 1983 and 1996, and the 1996 Master Reporter Award from the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. In 1994–95 he was a fellow in the Michigan Journalism Fellows program at the University of Michigan.

Frahm, a 1968 graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, lives in West Hartford, Connecticut with his wife, Gail.

Tashia Morgridge

Tashia Morgridge and her husband John are founders and members of the board of trustees of the Morgridge Institute for Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; founders and board members of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars; and founders of the Wisconsin Technology Initiative.

For many years, Morgridge has supported literacy programs in schools in disadvantaged communities in California. In addition, she is active in encouraging civic engagement among students at Stanford University and at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is a retired special education teacher and lives in Portola Valley, California. The Morgridges are committed to making an impact in education, the environment, medical research, the arts, and human services.

Morgridge earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education in 1955 and a master’s degree in 1975 from Leslie University in Massachusetts. In 2017, Morgridge was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is a longtime member of the School of Education’s Board of Visitors. Morgridge’s husband, John, is a 1955 graduate of the School of Business and earned his MBA from Stanford University in 1957. He is a member of the board of directors of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Both Morgridges are members of the Chancellor’s Board of Visitors.

Photo of James T. Minor

James T. Minor

Dr. James T. Minor serves as assistant vice chancellor and senior strategist in the Office of the Chancellor at the California State University (CSU). The CSU is the largest and most diverse four-year system in the nation enrolling more than 484,000 students across 23 campuses. Minor more recently served as deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. He was appointed by the Obama administration to provide overall leadership and administration for federal programs designed to expand access to higher education, strengthen institutional capacity, and to promote postsecondary innovation.

His scholarly work has focused on academic governance, higher education policy, and improving institutional performance. Minor is also a recognized thought-leader on higher education policy development, as well as issues related to improving degree completion nationally. He has published numerous articles in journals such as the Review of Higher Education, Educational Researcher, Thought & Action, Academe, New Directions for Higher Education, and the American Educational Research Journal.

A Detroit native, Minor earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Educational Policy Leadership and Analysis in 2001. In 2010 he received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education.

Leslie Orrantia

Leslie Orrantia serves as deputy mayor under the City of Madison administration of Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. Her role oversees economic development, transportation, and intergovernmental affairs and she serves as the liaison for local institutions of higher education and professional training. She joined the office with more than a decade of experience in community relations and business administration.

From 2016–19, Orrantia served as director of community relations on behalf of the University of Wisconsin–Madison chancellor, facilitating meaningful collaborations in research, practice, and policy between campus, city, county, and community. Prior to this role, she spent several years in a variety of positions within the School of Education, most recently as assistant director for the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network. Before her work at the university, she served as a caseworker in Madison for nearly five years, and throughout her professional career has used this experience with the region’s marginalized communities to inform her work.

Orrantia has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in social welfare. She lives in Madison with her partner, Nate, and their three pups.

Ron Schwarz
Ron Schwarz graduated from University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education in 1977. He taught high school math in Managua, Nicaragua and Cali, Colombia for three years before going on to pursue his MBA from the University of Texas, Austin (1982). Since then, Schwarz has founded a myriad of companies ,mainly in the directory publishing arena. He now works primarily with startups and also offers financial consulting in divorce cases.

Schwarz believes in giving back, and volunteers to make a difference in his community. He serves on the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas–Dallas Advisory Board. His father was a Holocaust survivor and Schwarz is very committed to this cause. He has shared his family’s experiences as a way to educate others about the Holocaust.

Schwarz currently lives in Dallas, Texas. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis and golf. His two children, Aaron and Rachel (BS ’10, in Communication Arts), live in Dallas and Chicago, respectively.