Featured Speakers

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

See Keynote Speakers and Author Luncheon Series for information about this year's highlighted speakers.

Additional Speakers

NOTE: WLA members who are conference presenters are not included in this listing. Nevertheless, their participation is critical to the success of our conference, and we thank them! For contact information, members may consult the online directory at http://wla.memberclicks.net/.

Kristine Alarie
Kristine Alarie established Expressive Hands, LLC in 2003. She is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and is certified to teach ASL to infants and children. She has taught thousands of parents, caregivers, childcare professionals, children and infants how to communicate using ASL. Kristine has a degree in Educational Interpreting for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and is employed as an educational interpreter for over 15 public school districts in the state of Wisconsin.

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, has been a rural historian and award-winning environmental writer for more than 40 years. He has published over 30 books, many of them on rural history and country life. His most recent publications are Letters from Hillside Farm, Limping Through Life: a Farm Boy’s Polio Memoir, and The Quiet Season: Remembering Country Winters.

Emilio De Torre
Emilio De Torre has been the Director of Youth and Programs at the ACLU of Wisconsin since 2006. He is the former Director of Education Services at Madison Square Boys & Girls Clubs where he supervised education, social development and technology programs for 12,000 young people at eight Boys & Girls Clubs in Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. He previously served as a NYC public school teacher and a camp director and has consulted on education, social media, technology, diversity/inclusion, youth outreach and program design nationally for many groups, including the US Department of Education, AmeriCorps, PBS WNET-13, The American Museum of Natural History, Community Advocates, United Council, National Association of Independent Schools, UW Extension and the Boys & Girls Club of America. He is on the Board of Directors for Milwaukee Public Theatre and is a loving father of three children.

Barbara J. Ford
Barbara J. Ford is the director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs and Mortenson Distinguished Professor at the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The American Library Association (ALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recognized her with awards for her significant contributions and dedication to international librarianship. In 2011, she was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. The author of many publications and presentations, Barbara has traveled around the world to address topics such as information literacy, government information, the future of libraries, the role of library associations, international cooperation among libraries, among other topics. Barbara earned a bachelor’s degree in history and education from Illinois Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Boris Frank
Boris Frank has over 40 years of nonprofit experience, including 25 years of teaching nonprofit management and fundraising for the University of Wisconsin system. Boris is actively involved as a volunteer and is currently serving on four boards and is president of two.

Eric Genrich
Representative Eric Genrich was elected to the State Assembly in November 2012. He represents the 90th Assembly District, which makes up the majority of the city of Green Bay. Eric was born and raised in Green Bay. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1998, and went on to attend UW-Madison, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2002. After graduation, Eric worked for State Senator Dave Hansen and began work on a Masters in Library Science from UW-Milwaukee, which he completed in 2010. Eric is a former Information Technology Librarian at the Brown County Library and he serves on the Executive Committee for Neighborworks Green Bay, a local housing nonprofit. He is also a member of the Fisk Addition Neighborhood Association.

Jim Gill
Jim Gill is a musician and author with unique credentials among children’s artists. Jim is a child development specialist, having completed his graduate studies in child development at the Erikson Institute of Chicago with a special emphasis on the study of play. For this reason, each of Jim’s recordings and books is created as an opportunity for playful interactions between a child and a caring adult. Jim has released six award-winning CDs of music play for young children that are favorites in family rooms, classrooms and playrooms. He is also the author of two children’s books. His latest, A Soup Opera, is a sing-along opera inspired by concerts where Jim performs with symphony orchestras. The book received an American Library Association award in 2010. Jim has received five separate awards from the American Library Association for his recordings and books over the years.

Jill Hietpas
Jill Hietpas is the Regional Broadband Educator in the Chippewa Valley (Eau Claire, Dunn and Chippewa counties) and works with the Center for Community Technology Solutions to address the broadband infrastructure and outreach needs of Western Wisconsin communities. Jill works collaboratively with the Chippewa Internetworking Consortium (CINC), the Indianhead Federated Library System and local non-profit agencies to maximize the use of broadband and improve the local economy and quality of life in the Chippewa Valley. As an outreach educator, Jill teaches computer and technology skills to senior citizens, job hunters, community members and special populations that want and need the skills to connect with family and friends, apply for jobs, access online information or build skills to advance their computer knowledge in this digital world.

Jacqueline Houtman
Jacqueline Houtman spent way too many years learning to be a scientist (27, if you count kindergarten). The best part of all that schooling is that some people, especially her parents, now call her Dr. Houtman. In the rare moments she did not spend in the lab, she did theater to feed the rest of her brain. Then she came to her senses and started over as a freelance science writer and editor. She has written for physicians, scientists and the guy down the street. She is equally comfortable writing for students in Medical School and Middle School. She most enjoys writing “sciency fiction” for kids, where real science is integral to the story.

Traci Lesneski
Traci Lesneski is a principal in the nationally recognized library design firm Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R). Traci believes in designing for the individual, valuing our inherent need for variety, privacy and dignity. Designing spaces that can positively impact a person’s life motivates and inspires her – whether for a public library, an arts building, a university community center or a workspace. Her focus is on enhancing personal comfort, productivity and delight.

Dr. Susan McFadden
Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at UW-Oshkosh, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on topics like adult development and aging, and the psychology of religion. She has edited several books and has published over 30 articles and book chapters in the general area of religion, spirituality and emotion in late life. She and her husband, John, are currently writing a book called Aging Together: Friendship, Community, and Dementia, in which they are exploring how persons living with dementia can continue to enjoy friendship and community ties.

John T. McFadden
John T. McFadden, M.Div., is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who served in parish ministry for 34 years, including 23 years as senior pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was volunteer chaplain for two years at an extended care facility, with a particular focus on pastoral presence to persons with advanced dementia.

Adam Schrager
Adam Schrager is an investigative producer and reporter with WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, Wisconsin. He has covered politics for more than 20 years, most recently at Wisconsin Public Television and at KUSA-TV in Denver. Previously, he worked at commercial television stations in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee in the 1990′s. Schrager is the author of “The Principled Politician,” a biography of former Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr whose stand on behalf of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor would cost him his political career. The book led state lawmakers to name the new state justice center after the former Colorado chief executive. His latest book is The Sixteenth Rail: The Evidence, the Scientist, and the Lindbergh Kidnapping.

Sheri Sinykin
Though she was born in Chicago, IL (May 3, 1950), Sheri (Cooper) Sinykin grew up in Sacramento, CA, as the eldest of four children. Her father was an optometrist; her mother was a music and special education teacher. As a child, her interests included ballet, reading, writing, traveling and learning to speak foreign languages, especially Spanish. Sheri has a B.A. in Communications-Journalism from Stanford University and an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College. Her most recent titles are Giving up the Ghost and Zayde Comes to Live, which is this year’s Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award.

Maria Alvarez Stroud
Maria Alvarez Stroud is the director of UW Extension Center for Community Technology Solutions. For the past two years, she has led the BTOP funded endeavors of UWEX, a $45 million effort to bring additional fiber to Wisconsin for community anchor institutions and a community education and outreach effort aimed at closing the “digital divide” in Wisconsin. She is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience in creating new service streams within the public sector and seeking out new ways of reaching underserved audiences.

Felton Thomas, Jr.
Felton Thomas leads one of the largest and most used libraries in the country, a Five Star Library according to Library Journal and, most impressively, started his career in librarianship at the young age of 13. Cleveland Public Library is transforming communities at its 28 branches and downtown Central location, and Mr. Thomas has led the way in partnerships with other organizations and has many goals for “the people’s university,” which is CPL’s motto.

Eliot Treichel
Eliot Treichel was raised in northern Wisconsin and now lives in Oregon. He’s the author of the story collection Close Is Fine, available from Ooligan Press, which was chosen as the 2013 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award Winner. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Narrative, Beloit Fiction Journal, CutBank, Passages North, Southern Indiana Review, Alligator Juniper, and other literary journals. He’s also written for Canoe & Kayak, Paddler, and Eugene Magazine. He holds an MFA from Bennington College, and currently teaches at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.

Alexia Wood
Alexia Wood holds a Masters in Social Work – Mental Health and Behavioral Health from UW-Milwaukee, and earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree with a minor in Spanish from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. As the executive director of St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter in Green Bay, Wood is responsible for overseeing the provision of services to homeless guests, providing leadership to staff and volunteers, shelter fundraising and creating awareness about the needs of the homeless in the community.