Evers Continues to Build Cabinet, Staff

Gov. Tony Evers was inaugurated on Monday, Jan. 7. Now officially in office, Evers is continuing to fill cabinet and staff positions, making new appointment announcements over the past several weeks.

Evers’s executive staff includes:

  • Chief of staff – Maggie Gau. Gau managed Evers’s campaign and has been his chief of staff throughout the transition. She previously worked in the capitol for legislators including Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville).
  • Deputy chief of staff – Melissa Moore Baldauff. Baldauff joins the Evers office from a public affairs and advertising agency. Previously she worked for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the state Democratic Party.
  • Deputy chief of staff – Kara Pennoyer. Pennoyer was previously chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse).
  • Deputy chief of staff – Barbara Worcester. Worcester most recently worked for a national housing developer. Previously, she worked for years in the capitol, with her last capitol job as chief of staff to then-Majority Leader Russ Decker.
  • Chief legal counsel – Ryan Nilsestuen. Nilsestuen was previously chief legal counsel at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
  • Policy director – Jenni Dye. Dye serves on the Dane County Board of Supervisors and was recently the executive director of the State Senate Democratic Committee.
  • Director of constituent services – Margie Berkowitz. Berkowitz was previously a legislative aide to Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska).
  • Legislative director – Stephanie Hilton. Hilton is an assistant district attorney in Dane County and previously worked in the state Assembly.
  • Deputy communications director – Britt Cudaback. Cudaback was previously chief of staff to Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and was communications director for the Evers campaign.
  • Operations director – Royce Kim. Kim is the Democratic Party of Wisconsin regional organizer for the northeastern part of the state.
  • Scheduling director – Elsie Raymer. Raymer was director of scheduling and special projects for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
  • Outreach director – Jamie Kuhn. Kuhn most recently worked on Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s public affairs team and was previously chief of staff to Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona). She is also on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.


Recent cabinet appointments include:

  • Department of Children & Families – Emilie Amudson. Amudson was Evers’s chief of staff at DPI. Jeff Pertl, policy director on Evers’s campaign, will be deputy secretary. Pertl was a senior policy advisor at DPI.
  • Department of Safety & Professional Services – Dawn Crim. Crim also joins the administration from DPI and previously worked at UW-Madison.
  • Department of Workforce Development – Caleb Frostman. Frostman won the June 2018 special election for Senate District 1 but lost in November to Sen. Andre Jacque (R-DePere). Before running for Senate, Frostman was the Door County Economic Development Corp. executive director. Joanna Richard will be deputy secretary at DWD. Richard was DWD deputy secretary under Gov. Jim Doyle. Most recently, Richard worked in the Department of Health Services division of managed care and as a special projects coordinator at DWD.
  • Department of Revenue – Peter Barca. After the announcement of his appointment this week, Rep. Barca (D-Kenosha) resigned his seat in the state Assembly. A special election for Assembly District 64 will be held this spring.
  • Department of Health Services – Andrea Palm. Palm was senior counselor to the federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) under President Barack Obama. Prior to working at HHS, Palm worked for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and U.S. Rep. Robert Matsui (D-California). Palm also was senior advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs – Mary Kolar. Kolar is a veteran who currently serves on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Previously, she worked as the director of public operations at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and as the president for the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Place Condominium Association.
  • Department of Financial Institutions – Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld was most recently the executive vice president for Total Administrative Services Corporation and had previously worked for CUNA. Cheryll Olson-Collins, who works in DFI’s Banking Division, has been appointed deputy secretary.
  • Department of Administration/State Budget Office – Brian Pahnke. Pahnke was an assistant state superintendent at DPI. Chris Patton will be deputy secretary. Patton most recently was working at his consulting firm the Patton Group. Previously, he was chief of staff to then Minority Leader Peter Barca.
  • Commissioner of Insurance – Mark Afable. Before joining the administration, Afable worked at American Family Insurance as chief legal officer and vice president. Nathan Houdek, who worked on the Evers transition team, will be deputy at OCI. Houdek’s previous experience includes working at Michael Best Strategies and as chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse).
  • Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection – Brad Pfaff. Pfaff most recently worked as deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). Randy Romanski will be deputy secretary. Romanski was DATCP secretary (among other administration positions) under Gov. Jim Doyle. Most recently, Romanski worked as safety programs chief at the Department of Transportation.
  • Department of Public Instruction SuperintendentCarolyn Stanford Taylor. Taylor was previously the assistant state superintendent. Her term as DPI superintendent will expire in 2021.
  • Public Service Commission Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq. Valcq is currently a partner at Quarles & Brady and previously worked as attorney for WE Energies. Valcq’s executive assistant (EA) will be Carrie Templeton, who has worked at PSC since 2011. Templeton’s previous experience also includes working as director of legislative relations and senior policy advisor to Gov. Jim Doyle, as an executive assistant at the Department of Corrections, DOR, and DFI, and as chief of staff to Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).While not part of the Evers appointments, there have been several other changes to PSC staff. Bob Seitz has returned to PSC as an EA to Commissioner Ellen Nowak, replacing current EA Bill Jordahl. Seitz was previously the deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation. Alex Ignatowski will be PSC’s communications and legislative director. Ignatowski was previously a PSC advisor and worked in various positions in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. Ignatowski replaces Matt Spencer, who is returning to the legislature to work for Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond).



Evers transition team.