DPW Officer Candidate Biographies

Candidates were asked to provide 200 word statements. Those received are printed below, in alphabetical order by last name.

Chair Candidates

Joe Donovan for Chair

Wisconsin Roots -                            
Joe grew up on a small, family owned, dairy farm in Marinette County. Graduated from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin with a degree in Business & Economics.                            
Lifelong Democrat -                            
The Donovan family was very active in Democratic politics. "I campaigned hard with my father for John F. Kennedy putting up yard signs and Knocking on doors when I was eleven years old". Joe served as an officer in the Marinette County Party and Democratic nominee for the (then) 88th Assembly District of Wisconsin. Moved to Milwaukee and served as Chair of the Milwaukee County West Side Democrats.                            
Grass Roots Organizer -                            
Worked full-time with an organization called Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition in Milwaukee.
Successful Progressive Businessman -                            
Co-founded an (Employee Owned) company (Donovan & Jorgenson) in Waukesha County in 1985 with a mission to conserve energy and reduce pollution by promoting and installing solar systems, heat pumps and high efficiency furnaces. Served as president and executive director from 1985 to 2016 doing everything necessary to grow the business to 70+ employees and more than 50,000 customers (largest residential HVAC provider in Wisconsin) . Joe retired early and will work full-time as the Chair of the DPW  for the 2017-2019 term.


Eric Finch for Chair

Eric Finch represents new progressive leadership for Wisconsin.

Eric earned his BA in political science from the University of Washington by twenty and received a full scholarship to law school at Washington University in St. Louis. He went on to receive a second law degree in Intellectual Property and Technology Law.

After law school, Eric was a community organizer in Seattle. He later followed his wife’s career to Madison, volunteering for Tammy Baldwin in last two months of the 2012 campaign before moving back to Washington State to practice law. As an attorney, Eric took on big banks, advised non-profit organizations through tough times, and more. Eric returned to Wisconsin again for his wife’s career in 2014, taking a sabbatical from law practice to organize for the DPW, where he saw many areas that needed improvement.

Since then, Eric has worked on complex real estate transactions as an attorney and been an in-house lawyer for a world-class manufacturer that manufactures in USA, is committed to sustainability, and has moved toward an employee-owned model. Over the last year, he's been working on software projects, helping on campaigns, and serving clients with family & employment law issues, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community.


Bryan Kennedy for Chair

Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy’s Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) involvement spans more than fifteen years. After completing his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, Bryan took a faculty position at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he taught until 2011. Shortly after moving to Wisconsin, he joined his union and the DPW.

At his core, Bryan is a grassroots organizer. When he was in graduate school, he was part of a union organizing effort of graduate assistants at the University of North Carolina. After joining the UWM faculty, he helped sign dozens of new members to his local union.

From 2007-2013, Bryan served as state president of American Federation of Teachers — Wisconsin. He turned the union into an organizing union by hiring five organizers and opening an Organizing Department. Under his leadership, AFT—Wisconsin experienced the largest expansion of new locals in their recent history —  eight successful collective bargaining elections on seven UW campuses in less than a year.

Elected Mayor of Glendale in 2015, Kennedy has also served for almost a decade on the Glendale-River Hills School Board. Kennedy was the Democratic nominee against Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner in 2004 and 2006.


Martha Laning for Chair

Martha Laning grew up in a middle-class family in rural Central Wisconsin. Her parents instilled values of education, hard work, and the importance of giving back through volunteering.

After high school, Martha earned a Business Accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked at the local paper mill during summer vacation to pay for her education. In 2002, she obtained a Master’s in Business Administration.

At UW-Madison, Martha met her husband Wayne. They married in 1990 and have three beautiful children, Katie, Maddie, and Alec. Martha’s family motivated her interest in community service and desire to do more by leading the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Martha has served as a full-time chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since June 2015 and, in that time, has traveled over 65,000 miles - from Superior to Kenosha - to talk to party leaders, allies, and voters across Wisconsin. She has worked to build a stronger party by empowering grassroots organizers, providing candidates with resources needed to run robust campaigns and building a stronger team that works together.

DPW has made progress, but we have more work to do to build the infrastructure we need to win in 2018 and beyond.


2nd Vice Chair Candidates

Mandela Barnes for 2nd Vice Chair

Mandela Barnes is a former State Representative of WI's 11th Assembly District, elected in 2012 as a champion of progressive values. He served on the Assembly Committees on Corrections, Education, Jobs & the Economy, and Small Business Development. He also served as the chairman of the Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus. A lifelong Milwaukee resident, he graduated from John Marshall High School and went on to Alabama A&M University, completing his studies in mass communications and sociology in 2008.

After returning to Milwaukee, Mandela became the Lead Organizer and Director for Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), a coalition of faith-based groups advocating for social justice in the greater-Milwaukee community. He is currently the Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for State Innovation Exchange, a national state policy network for progressive state legislators.

Mandela has served nationally as a leader for education policy, gun violence prevention, and economic issues, and was also recognized as one of the nation's top pro-growth progressives by NewDEAL Leaders.

His current list of endorsements for this race include, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Mayor Tom Barrett, State Representatives Eric Genrich, Daniel Riemer, and Jocasta Zamarripa.

Mandela Barnes plans to bring much needed vision to our party.


Secretary Candidates

Meg Andrietsch for Secretary

Meg has spent her life in southeastern Wisconsin, growing up in Kenosha, earning her MBA, and now working tirelessly to turn Racine County blue.

Proudly coming from a union household, Meg actively served the CWA, in advancing roles as a steward, chief steward, picket captain, strike captain, and Secretary of the local.  For the Democratic Party, she has worked at all levels of the organization (County, CD, and State), doing whatever is needed to get Democrats elected throughout the county and across the ballot.

Meg started attending State Party Administrative Committee meetings in 2007 as an observer, then became an Administrative Committee alternate, and in 2010 she became DPW Secretary when her predecessor was appointed a judge.

She uses her 6.5 years of experience, plus her personal connections gained from that service, to advance the cause of Democrats throughout Wisconsin.  Meg has a deep understanding of both the role of Secretary and DPW operations, and brings that knowledge to county parties and campaigns around the state.

In her ‘spare’ time, she likes to read mysteries, watch hockey, and listen to the blues, particularly the Allman Brothers Band, and any music by her favorite musician, Warren Haynes.

Anita Klein for Secretary

Anita grew up in rural Manitowoc County on a dairy farm. She and her family moved to Kiel and Sheboygan where she helped her parents run a small restaurant.  Then in 1963 the family moved to Waldo, WI where they operated a small assisted-living facility.  Anita graduated from Sheboygan Falls High School and continued her education at Lakeshore Technical College in Secretarial Science and Para-legal.  
Anita worked as a legal secretary, earning her Certified Professional Secretary designation, for several years before completing an Associate Degree as a Para-legal.  She served on the Advisory Committee for Para-legal programs for the technical schools.

In 1978 Anita met and married her husband, Peter.  Peter was a dairy farmer, a democrat, and an organizer.  Together we continued this work.  With Peter’s encouragement she became involved in local politics.  Anita was Town of Mitchell Clerk for 14 years; she ran for 27th Assembly; and she was Trustee for the Village of Waldo for six years.  Anita was co-founder and general manager of a dairy marketing co-op for 12 years.  She served on the Agricultural Advisory Committee for the Federal Reserve Board in Chicago.

Currently, Anita is completing her 4th year as Chair for the Sheboygan County Democratic Party and her 4th year as Treasurer for the 6th CD. 


Treasurer Candidates

Randy A. Udell for Treasurer

Randy Udell has spent his adult life working to build a stronger, more progressive Democratic party across the state of Wisconsin.  Randy got his start in Democratic politics early on, serving as President of the Young Democrats and a Student Senator at UW-Whitewater.  In college, he signed on as an aide to United States Congressman Les Aspin – learning first-hand about community outreach, constituent service, and what it takes to run and win in a challenging Wisconsin swing district.

After settling down in the Madison area with his husband Brad, Randy began to get involved with local Democratic organizations and campaigns.  He was elected as the Chair of the 2nd Congressional District, served for 5 years as the 2nd CD Treasurer, and in 2013 was appointed to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Administrative Committee – helping to guide and hold the organization accountable to its members.  In 2015, in recognition of his skills and leadership, Randy was unanimously elected as the state Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Throughout, Randy has been a constant mentor and advisor for county party officers, activists, and staff.  He’s helped party leaders navigate the difficult and changing world of campaign finance, worked one-on-one with county parties to ensure timely filing of reports, held one-of-a-kind trainings for county treasurers and other party financial officers, and worked to ensure accountability and transparency in the DPW budgeting process.  Thanks to his leadership, DPW continues to be on sound financial footing, in compliance with all Federal and State laws, and on pace to break numerous organizational finance goals.


DNC Candidate Biographies

Candidates were asked to provide 200 word statements. Those received are printed below, in alphabetical order by last name.

Adam Brabender for DNC
I’m Adam Brabender, a native of Dane County where I’ve been active in the Democratic Party for over 20 years. Recently I ran for the Dane County Board. I serve on Madison’s Equal Opportunities Commission and my neighborhood association’s executive committee. I’m a member of Yahara House, a Madison clubhouse for mentally ill, where I serve on several committees.

I have a certified nursing assistant certificate and an associate degree in human services. I attend UW-Whitewater, majoring in social work and political science.

I’m inspired to run for a DNC spot to lobby Congress to:

  • Add dental coverage to Medicaid for seniors and the disabled
  • Address student loan debt, especially for disabled students
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15
  • Pass a non-discrimination LGBTQ law
  • Invest in technology, such as driverless cars, to aid the elderly and disabled
  • Invest in research to find drugs with fewer side effects for people with mental illness
  • Support more clubhouses for the mentally ill
  • Increase support for mixed-use Section 8 Housing

Finally, I want to create an organization to train people with disabilities to run for office. No such organization exists today.


Luke Fuszard for DNC
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A native of Green Bay, Luke Fuszard - along with his wife Abbey - is now teaching his two young children the same ethic of service and value of a purpose-driven life upon which he was raised.

When Luke’s ancestors settled in Kenosha in 1845, they found a welcoming home in the Democratic Party. That allegiance has been passed down over seven generations, and inspires Luke to this day.

Over the years, Luke has worked tirelessly to build the Democratic Party and a bench of young progressive leaders by founding both the Young Democrats of Wisconsin and the New Leaders Council.

As State Chair, Luke has welcomed hundreds of new members to the Young Democrats, creating a bright future for the party in the Badger State. Meanwhile the New Leaders Council has trained dozens of young elected officials who now hold prominent positions in city, county and state government.

In the wake of the November elections, Luke was motivated by the famous words: “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” Luke continues his service to our party by recently embarking on a campaign to be the people’s representative to the Democratic National Committee.


Peter Peckarsky for DNC
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Peter, Democratic activist and lifelong Wisconsinite, grew up in Milwaukee, spent summers in the North Woods, and attended MIT (Electrical Engineering and Political Science degrees) and CWRU (Law).

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy placed Peter’s senior thesis in the Congressional Record in opposition to the ABM system. Peter served as a civilian consultant to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and to the Director of Naval Intelligence. During the 70s and 80s, he worked tirelessly to expose many political scandals.

The DNC has noticed Peter’s efforts to ensure each eligible voter’s access to the polls. As DNC Chair candidate, Peter also championed rights including those for women, LGBTQ, minorities, immigrants, collegians, Millennials, and senior citizens.

Since 2002, during every general election, critical primary, the recalls, and some Supreme Court races, Peter participated in efforts to protect the entire voting process. In particular, he stopped  Republican efforts to intimidate African American voters.

In January 2005 as lead trial counsel, Peter filed a motion which would have put John Kerry in the White House. In 2008 and 2016, Peter helped organize the Wisconsin primary election protection effort for Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders. Peter assisted Hillary Clinton’s November election protection effort.


Khary Penebaker for DNC
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If elected, he plans to serve as an important liaison between the National Party and our state and local Democrats, as well as recruit and train activists to work on behalf of Democratic candidates and Democratic legislative proposals, with a focus on education, jobs and the economy, and public safety.  Khary is a husband, father, and successful businessman who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. His strong moral values have served him well and shaped him into the tenacious leader he is today.  After completing his bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee, he embarked upon a successful, nearly twenty-year-long career in the roofing industry. He has jointly owned and operated multiple companies, including Penebaker Enterprises, which completed the acclaimed $60 million Milwaukee City Hall Restoration Project. He currently serves as President of Roofed Right America, LLC.

During the 2016 election cycle, Penebaker ran for Congress against long-time incumbent Republican Jim Sensenbrenner.  He was built a team of full-time staff members that raised over $120,000 from over 1,400 grassroots donors; Collected over 1600 nomination signatures; Made over 155,000 volunteer recruitment calls into the district which resulted in nearly 1,000 volunteers who completed over 2,500 voter persuasion shifts; Drove nearly 20,000 miles to meet with voters throughout the district; Earned the support of Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Herb Kohl, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Keith Ellison.

As the father of three children ranging in age from toddler to teenager, family time plays a prominent role in his life, as does his faith. He has been actively involved with education, from his own children’s educational achievements to worker skill training. Khary is a proud board member of Planned Parenthood of WI and WAVE (WI Anti-Violence Effort) and is Everytown for Gun Safety‘s WI’s Survivor Fellow.