Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism board expands, elects Milwaukee lawyer Ralph A. Weber as president

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Lauren Justice for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Milwaukee lawyer Ralph A. Weber has been elected president of the board of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, after first being elected to the board in 2017. He succeeds Madison Magazine Publisher and Editor Karen Lincoln Michel.


The board of directors of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has expanded by electing three prominent Milwaukee figures.

In addition, the board, which now has 13 members, elected Milwaukee lawyer Ralph A. Weber as its president.

The three newly elected board members are:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Brenner, who retired as publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2016 after more than three decades in the newspaper industry. She oversaw Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, its websites and a wide range of related businesses through a challenging period in its history. Under Brenner’s leadership, the Journal Sentinel won three Pulitzer Prizes and was widely recognized as one of the nation’s best regional news organizations.

Dan Conley, a partner at Quarles & Brady in Milwaukee, where he serves as an adviser to clients on business disputes and transactions, legal ethics, class actions, legal malpractice, and matters attracting high levels of media scrutiny. He has over 30 years of experience in roles ranging from trial advocate, to mediator, business adviser, crisis response consultant, expert witness and trustee.

Marilyn Krause, principal at Krause Communications, where she provides content, editing, media relations and communication solutions to companies and organizations. Krause spent 27 years at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessor, the Milwaukee Journal. She began her career as a reporter and then editor on the local news desk, ultimately rising in the organization to senior management with responsibilities for training and mentoring, strategic planning and operations, labor negotiations and budget management.

The board’s addition of the three Milwaukee-based directors, and the election of Weber as president, signal the Center’s commitment to Milwaukee, which will play a critical role in the future of the news organization, said Andy Hall, Center co-founder and executive director.

“We’re thrilled to have Ms. Krause, Mr. Conley and Ms. Brenner join our board, whose members have unwaveringly served the public interest,” Hall said.

Weber, a founding member of Gass Weber Mullins, a national trial litigation law firm, was first elected to the Center’s board in 2017. He succeeds Madison Magazine Publisher and Editor Karen Lincoln Michel as board president.

“I thank Karen for her exceptional leadership as board president,” Weber said. “The board is very excited to expand the Center’s presence in Milwaukee and throughout the state.”

The all-volunteer board, which guides the organization and determines policies, includes experts in investigative journalism, nonprofit journalism and nonprofit financial management.  Day-to-day operations are handled by the staff.

The Center operates Wisconsin Watch, an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit news organization launched in 2009. It increases the quality, quantity and understanding of investigative journalism, fostering an informed citizenry and strengthening democracy, while training current and future generations of investigative journalists.

Its guiding values: Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Explore solutions.

The Center collaborates with, but is independent of, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, where it is located; Wisconsin Public Radio; Wisconsin Public Television; and news organizations across the nation. Its investigations focus on government integrity and quality of life issues — the economy, the environment, education, health care and the justice system — of importance to the people of Wisconsin.

The Center’s staff supervises and trains paid interns and fellows who serve as investigative reporters and public engagement and marketing specialists. The Center also trains high school, college and professional journalists. The Center’s stories are distributed for free to news outlets in Wisconsin and beyond. The Center has produced more than 350 major news reports that have been cited, published or broadcast by more than 800 newspapers, radio and TV stations and news websites in Wisconsin and nationwide. The estimated audience of the Center’s reports exceeds 82.5 million people.

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