About the Board
The Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing is a group of leaders from the health care and business communities who provide strategic guidance to the school.
2021-2022 Board Members
Mary Behrens, an alumna of the school, is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Fellow in FAANP. She has been an active political force in Wyoming since 1983, serving as mayor of Casper, Wyoming, Natrona County commissioner, and Wyoming state representative. She has promoted the nursing profession in both political and healthcare arenas, testifying at state, national, and international venues on nursing and health care. She has been recognized by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for her international, long-term teaching project in Vietnam through Friendship Bridge, which establishes an education pathway for nurses. Behrens also served eight years on the board of directors for the American Nurses Association. Behrens received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Nurses’ Alumni Organization in 2005. She is currently working with the American Nurses Advocacy Institute to prepare Nurses all over the US in Political Advocacy, and the Movement is Life project to improve health disparities.
Laurie Benson, an alumna of the school, currently serves as the Executive Director, Nurses on Boards Coalition. The mission of NOBC is to improve health in communities across the nation through the service of at least 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020. Laurie’s career includes roles as an accomplished corporate executive, entrepreneur, and corporate board director. She serves on a 6 corporate and non-profits boards in diverse industry sectors. She combines her expertise with engagement in the healthcare industry through board service, executive leadership, and innovation roles. As the CEO of an information-technology consulting company for twenty-five years, Benson grew revenues from the startup stage to $80 million with 150-plus employees across three offices. Laurie’s passion is helping organizations and individuals achieve their potential. Laurie lives out her gratitude for her nursing education through her commitment to playing an active role in transforming healthcare and promoting a culture of health in a way that honors nursing and the nursing profession.
Ann E. Brewer, an alumna of the school, was the director of the Executive Secretariat in the Immediate Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) prior to her retirement in 2016. After receiving her baccalaureate degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, she held administrative and staff positions in hospitals and home health care agencies. Prior to moving to Washington, DC in 2002, Brewer worked as the female health coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. She also served on the Wisconsin Board of Nursing for seven years and was the chairperson in 2000 and 2001. Additionally, she held an adjunct faculty position at the UW–Madison School of Nursing from 1995 to 1998. Prior to her retirement, Brewer was an active member of the Council of the Federal Executive Secretariats, serving as vice chair in 2009 and chair in 2010. She was a member of the Friends of Patients at the NIH Board of Directors, where she served as its second vice president for several years. Brewer also serves on the Board of Visitors for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health “Initiative to End Alzheimer’s Disease. She is currently a volunteer for Agrace Hospice Care in Madison, WI. She has been a speaker at national, state, and local health associations, as well as legislative hearings.
Sarah Brzozowski is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing and Director of Magnet and Nursing Excellence at UW Health. Sarah began her nursing career as a clinical research nurse on UW Health’s Clinical Research Unit. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Spanish with a minor in Business Administration from University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a Master’s in Business Administration from Arizona State University. She is Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Sarah is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau International serving on the Leadership Succession Committee of the Beta Eta at-Large Chapter. She is also an active member of the Midwest Nursing Research Society serving as co-chair of the Health Systems, Policy and Informatics Research Interest Group. Sarah served two years on the curriculum committee within the School of Nursing. Her program of research focuses on leadership, organizational culture and the support of nurses. Her dissertation studies are investigating nurse identity and the support nurses need in primary care clinics, and the relationships among leadership, work environment and nurse outcomes in primary care practice settings. Sarah enjoys yoga, being outside, and spending time with her 5-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
Nancy Fraser Michalski is Vice President of Med Legal Services at Elevate, a global provider of consulting, managed services and technology solutions for law firms and corporate legal departments. As head of Med Legal Services, Nancy provides clients with practical ways to improve efficiency, quality, and outcomes of their bodily injury claims and litigation, including medical bill auditing, comprehensive claim reviews, medical record reviews, and life care planning. Drawing on her extensive experience as a nurse and medical billing expert, Nancy developed a methodology for medical bill audits that has been endorsed by peer review, as well as a patent pending system for medical record analysis. She is widely recognized as an expert in medical billing and frequently testifies as an expert witness. Prior to Elevate, Nancy was Founder and CEO of Med Legal Consulting Source, which she grew into a leading provider of medical litigation support, and brokered the company’s acquisition by Elevate in 2012. As a registered nurse for more than 25 years, Nancy’s experience includes leading business operations, managing a large medical staff and billing department, and assisting in more than 10,000 surgeries. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a certificate from the University of Southern California in healthcare management development.
Mary Gulbrandsen is executive director of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS), a private, not-for-profit foundation providing need-based grants to recent graduates of Wisconsin public high schools who are attending Wisconsin public colleges full time. A pediatric nurse practitioner and former school district administrator, Gulbrandsen has dedicated her career to benefitting children by combining her interest and expertise in health care, education, and administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and two master’s degrees—one in pediatric nursing and one in administrative medicine—from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Jean E. Johnson, an alumna of the school, is dean emerita and professor of the School of Nursing at George Washington University (GW). Throughout her career, Johnson has been committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people and communities and has designed and launched a range of programs to improve access to nursing education and health care in rural and underserved communities. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement for the GW School of Nursing. Dr. Johnson has co-chaired the National Task Force on Evaluation Criteria for Nurse Practitioner Programs as well as facilitated the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Consensus Group, which established a new regulatory model for advanced practice nursing. She was appointed to the UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Nursing Advancement Advisory Board in 2014. Johnson received a Fulbright Award to teach leadership as a visiting professor at the University of Cape Town. She has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NONPF and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.
Nancy Kaufman, an alumna of the school, is the founding president of the Strategic Vision Group, a health consulting firm based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the first nurse to be admitted and receive a graduate degree in Administrative Medicine from UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Kaufman served for twelve years as vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She held positions in Wisconsin’s government from 1971 to 1991 and, in her last post, was deputy director of public health for governors Thompson, Earl, and Dreyfus. She served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Infectious Diseases and as a member of the National Advisory councils for the Agency for Health Care Policy Research (AHRQ), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Department of Health and Human Services Interagency Council on Smoking. Nancy has also worked on global health issues with WHO and USAID, in Geneva at the World Health Assembly and tobacco treaty negotiations, Europe, Asia, and Africa. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.
Patricia “Pat” Lasky, an alumna of the school, retired from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing in 2003. Prior to her retirement, she served as executive associate dean, acting dean and associate dean of undergraduate program and outreach.
Since her retirement, Lasky has served on the board of directors and as president of the Retirement Association of UW–Madison. She currently sits on the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County where she serves as vice chair. Lasky also serves on the city of Madison committee on Environment and the Education Committee. She is a board member of the Nursing Alumni Organization and a volunteer at Chávez Elementary. Lasky is the recipient of the 2107 Marquette University Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Nursing.
Allison Ludwig, an alumna of the school, is a Public Health/Health Care Lead at the MITRE Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland, where she supports the federal government in policy development and implementation in the post-acute care sector. Prior to joining MITRE, she held a position at the National Quality Forum (NQF), where she staffed the NQF-convened Measures Application Partnership (MAP), and supported quality measurement and improvement efforts for Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries, the health workforce, and hospital readmission reductions initiatives. Allison also has previous experience in healthcare administration at UPMC and began her career as a staff nurse in oncology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. She received her baccalaureate degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and, later, master’s degrees in public health/health policy (MPH) and health administration (MHA) from the University of Iowa.
Karen Pridham is Helen Denne Schulte Professor Emerita with a focus on pediatric nursing at the School of Nursing. She is an alumna of the school (BS 1957, MS 1966) and earned her School of Education doctorate in instructional theory and research in 1972. Karen was a student in the first class of graduate students in pediatric nursing taught by the renowned faculty member Florence Blake.
Her extensive program of research has influenced two generations of nurse scientists and focused on supporting parents and children in learning health care and solving problems associated with the care of children with chronic health problems, including very prematurely born infants and infants with complex congenital heart disease. She received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Nurses’ Alumni Organization in 1998 and the Midwest Nursing Research Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She gives consultation to young investigators who are developing studies concerning parenting and infant feeding, and mentors undergraduate honors students in research projects.
Linda Procci retired after 17 years as Vice President of Service Line Operations at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Prior to that position, she served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, Director of Training in Nursing as the University Affiliated Program at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Clinical Nurse Specialist at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. Linda is an alumna of the School of Nursing (BS 1972, MS 1974) and earned a PhD in Education from the University of Southern California. Linda led the School of Nursing’s capital campaign for Signe Skott Cooper Hall. She currently serves on the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board and Dean’s Advisory Board for the Wisconsin School of Business. Since retiring, she has been very active with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association and LA Badger Women.
Patty Shinners, an alumna of the School of Nursing, is a retired family nurse practitioner living in Northern Wisconsin.
After receiving her baccalaureate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she worked in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at UW Hospital and Clinics as a staff and charge nurse. She then went on to serve as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Division of Critical Care Nursing. Following this, she completed her master’s degree from UW-Madison. She proceeded to work as both a Faculty Clinical Consultant for UW Hospital and Clinics, and an Assistant Clinical Instructor in the School of Nursing. After moving to Northern WI, she attended UW-Oshkosh where she received a Post-Graduate Nurse Practitioner Certificate.
In addition to her nursing experience, Patty has been a member of the Antigo Common Council, the School Board of the All Saints Catholic School System, the Langlade County Board of Heath, and the Langlade County Social Services Permanency Plan Review Committee. Patty is currently the Vice Chair of the University of Wisconsin Alumni Advisory Council and an active volunteer in many organizations in her hometown.
Elisha J. Smith, BSN, RN is a current Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a graduate teaching assistant in the School of Nursing, and a medical-surgical float pool nurse at UW Health. Elisha completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014. Prior to his current roles, Elisha worked as a nurse for four years in the Orthopedics unit and Critical Care unit at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI. During his nursing career at Gundersen, Elisha was involved in unit-based improvement projects as a member of the Unit Nursing Practice, Education and Quality (UPEQ) Committee, and the Safe Patient Handling liaison for the Critical Care Unit. His commitment to leadership engagement continues as the DNP student representative of the Curriculum Committee. Elisha received the Outstanding Badger Nursing Award from the UW Nurses Alumni Organization in 2017. His professional passions lie in improving continuity of care throughout the care continuum for vulnerable populations with complex healthcare needs related to cardiopulmonary dysfunction, and educating the future generation of nurses.
Peggy Zimdars is an alumna of the School of Nursing (BS 1973) and graduated from the University of Michigan’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program in 1977. She worked with the University of Wisconsin Hospital Pediatrics ICU, as well as a private practice in allergy and immunology. Peggy has served as a Patient and Family Advisor since 2011, including the UW Health Patient and Family Advisory Council from 2011-2017, serving as co-chair from 2014-2015. She has also served on the MyChart PFAC, the Discharge Collaborative, and the planning group for UW Health at the American Center. She currently serves on the Clinical Knowledge Management Council, the Patient Safety and Quality Council, Health and Safety Committee, the Mobility Work Group, the Breast Cancer Research Advisory Network, and PEER, a patient advisory group for a PCORI grant addressing health care acquired infections and the Wisconsin Hospital Association Patient and Family Advisory Council. Her community leadership and engagement includes serving on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Domestic Violence, training as Orton-Gillingham tutor and tutoring children with dyslexia and reading difficulties, and serving as a member of the School of Nursing capital campaign committee.