Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Board of Directors

A nationally acclaimed board of directors, including experts in investigative journalism, nonprofit journalism and nonprofit financial management, determines policies, while day-to-day operations are handled by the staff. Individuals’ affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Board Officers

Ralph Weber, board president

Ralph A. Weber is one of the founding members of Gass Weber Mullins in Milwaukee, a national trial litigation law firm recognized by the National Law Journal on its national “Hot List” of boutique firms. In addition, he has founded and worked with several educational, charitable and nonprofit groups. Weber is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Chambers Guide-USA identifies him as a top commercial litigator. The Wisconsin Law Journal honored Weber in 2014 as a “Leader in the Law.” His appellate experience includes multiple oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and intermediate appellate courts. In addition to a full legal practice and teaching Trial Advocacy for two decades at Marquette Law School, Weber has been active as a community supporter with such groups as the Marquette University National Alumni Board, the Board of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the Marquette University College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Board, and the FC Milwaukee Soccer Club. He serves as a member of the Northwestern Mutual Board of Trustees and the National Board for Rocketship Education, a San Jose-based network of public elementary charter schools serving primarily low-income students. Weber graduated from Columbia University Law School, where he served on the Law Review. He then clerked for Richard D. Cudahy, United States Court of Appeals judge for the Seventh Circuit. His undergraduate degree is from Marquette University, where he studied history and philosophy, graduating summa cum laude and becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Brant Houston, board vice president

Houston is the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting and teaches investigative and advanced reporting in the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois. He formerly served as president of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s board of directors. He is a founder and former chair of the board of directors  for the Institute for Nonprofit News, a consortium of nonprofit investigative news organizations. Houston formerly worked as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 4,000-member organization, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 17 years. Houston was part of the newsroom staff of The Kansas City Star that won a Pulitzer Prize for its work on the 1981 walkway collapse at the city’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, and he was one of four investigative team members who won a Headliners Award for coverage of misconduct by Kansas City area building inspectors. At The Hartford Courant, he won awards for investigations into state and federal government programs and was the paper’s database editor. During 14 years at IRE, Houston oversaw the creation of numerous training programs nationally and internationally and also helped it strengthen and increase its membership. Houston is the author of three editions of the textbook, “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide,” and co-author of the fourth edition of “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.” Houston co-founded the Global Investigative Journalism Network in 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont.

Jack Mitchell, board secretary

Professor Emeritus Mitchell joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty in January 1998 after a 30-year career in public radio. As Director of Wisconsin Public Radio for 21 years, Mitchell led the most extensive and successful state or university public radio system in the country. On a national level, Mitchell was the first employee of National Public Radio and was instrumental in developing the groundbreaking newsmagazine “All Things Considered.” During his years as the program’s first producer and executive producer, ATC won both the Peabody Award and the DuPont Award. Mitchell was elected to an unprecedented four terms (12 years) on the National Public Radio Board of Directors, including three years as chair. As a professor emeritus, Mitchell teaches courses in public broadcasting, broadcast news, intermediate reporting, mass media and society, and the survey of mass communication. Mitchell’s awards include the Edward Elson National Public Radio Distinguished Service Award, the UW-Extension Award for Excellence, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Edward R. Murrow Award, public radio’s highest honor. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Michigan. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois.

Keith Baumgartner, board treasurer

Baumgartner, assurance partner with BDO Madison, has 30 years of experience administering and overseeing audits and financial reporting for clients in the manufacturing, nonprofit, and construction industries. A certified public accountant, he also has extensive experience in taxation of nonprofit organizations including charities, trade associations, and private foundations. Beyond nonprofit tax compliance, he has assisted clients with setting up for-profit subsidiaries and structuring new revenue sources. Baumgartner joined Smith & Gesteland, LLP in Madison in 1985, and was appointed partner in 2000. Baumgartner has served on several nonprofit boards in various capacities, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Madison and the Fitchburg Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Baumgartner received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and earned the Elijah Watt Sells Award on the CPA exam.

Board Members

Herman Baumann, board member

Baumann is the principal and managing director of Green Line Strategies, LLC in Middleton, Wis., whose mission is to help associations improve their non-dues revenue in support of their missions and members. He is an expert in sponsorship and advertising, newsletters and magazines, Internet strategies, executive education, and large-scale health promotion and disease prevention programs. In addition to more than a decade working for associations, Baumann has worked extensively in the health care and publishing fields, including 10 years as editor and managing editor of the Chicago Suburban Times Newspapers. Baumann was recently recognized by his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which honored him with a Distinguished Service Award.

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Brenner, board member

Brenner 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 what was perhaps the most challenging period in the news organization’s history. Under Brenner’s leadership, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel won three Pulitzer Prizes and was widely recognized as one of the nation’s best regional news organizations. Prior to coming to Milwaukee, Brenner was president and publisher of The News Tribune in Tacoma, WA and The SUN in Bremerton, WA and had leadership responsibilities at The Denver Rocky Mountain News, The Miami Herald and The New York Times. In addition to WCIJ, she serves on the boards of The Medical College of Wisconsin, the Boys & Girls Club, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Milwaukee Film and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Brenner attended Northwestern University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism in 1976 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1978.

Malcolm Brett, board member

Brett retired in 2018 as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Innovations – University of Wisconsin – Extension (UWEX) and General Manager of WHA-TV, the flagship station of Wisconsin Public Television. He oversaw the University’s public radio and public television stations which are part of Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio. He also managed UWEX’s distance learning facilities and Instructional Communications Systems. Brett has also served as the Director of Television for Wisconsin Public Television. In that role he oversaw the network’s University and State licensee stations. During the past 30 years at WPT, Brett has served as director of development as well as production manager for the national show “The New Tech Times.” His extensive knowledge of public television includes development, production management, strategic planning, budgeting, government relations and community relations. He was named PBS Development Professional of the Year in 1998 for his system-wide contributions and for his leadership of WPT’s development program. Brett led WPT’s digital conversion, and has helped guide, design, fund or implement various of WPT’s national public television models including – Portal Wisconsin, the National Center for Community Engagement, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hometown Stories and extensive Veterans programming. Along with colleagues at WPSU and WOSU, Brett led the development of University Place, which is built on multicast, Internet streaming and VOD opportunities for University licensed PTV stations. Brett served on Wisconsin’s Sesquicentennial celebration commission. He established and chaired the Wisconsin Cultural Coalition and led its support for Portal Wisconsin. Brett also served on and chaired the Board of American Public Television, the Affinity Group coalition, the Board of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the University Licensee Association. He formerly served as professional vice-chair of the PBS Board.

Dan Conley, board member

At Quarles & Brady in Milwaukee, where he is a partner, Conley serves as a trusted 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. Conley grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin and received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Conley worked his way through school with various jobs, ranging from being a reporter for Rice Lakes’ weekly newspaper and DJ for one of its radio stations, to three summers cutting fish open in Homer, Alaska. While in school, he interned for the Wisconsin Legislature and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Bill Bablitch, and spent the first two years after law school clerking for the Hon. John W. Reynolds in the Eastern District of Wisconsin Federal Court.


Martin Kaiser, board member

Marty Kaiser led the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to three Pulitzer Prizes before becoming a nationally prominent journalism consultant in 2015. He specializes in leadership, digital innovation, ethics, investigative reporting and editing. Before arriving in Milwaukee, Kaiser was Associate Managing Editor of the Baltimore Sun. He previously served in editing and reporting positions at the Chicago Sun-Times, and at Florida newspapers in Sarasota and Clearwater. Kaiser joined the Milwaukee Journal as Managing Editor/Vice President in 1994. He was Editor/Senior Vice President of the Journal Sentinel for 18 years. During his tenure in Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel won three Pulitzers, was a finalist six other times, and built a national reputation for its investigative reporting, writing and digital innovation. Named Editor & Publisher magazine’s Editor of the Year in 2009, Kaiser served as president of the American Society of News Editors 2009-2010. He is a member of the board of the American Society of News Editors Foundation, the advisory board of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Journalism Advisory Board of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the Colby College (Me.) Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award board and has been a Pulitzer Prize judge three times. He earned his bachelor’s degree at The George Washington University and completed the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management Executive Program.

Charles Lewis, board member

Lewis is a professor of journalism and the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. A former ABC News and CBS News 60 Minutes producer, he founded the award-winning Center for Public Integrity and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the first global network of premier investigative reporters to develop and publish online multimedia exposés across borders. He is the author of 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity (2014), and the co-author of five Center books: The Buying of the President (1996), The Buying of the Congress (1998), The Buying of the President 2000, The Cheating of America (2001), and The Buying of the President 2004, a New York Times bestseller. He was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, and in 2004, he was given the PEN USA First Amendment award “for expanding the reach of investigative journalism, for his courage in going after a story regardless of whose toes he steps on, and for boldly exercising his freedom of speech and freedom of the press.” In 2009, the Encyclopedia of Journalism called him “one of the 30 most notable investigative reporters in the U.S. since World War I.”

Karen Lincoln Michel, board member

Michel, a veteran editor, writer and newsroom leader, is publisher and editor of Madison Magazine. She has served as president of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s board of directors. She is a former executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La., and assistant managing editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Michel is a nationally noted leader in Native American journalism and newsroom diversity and a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe in Wisconsin. As assistant managing editor in Green Bay, Michel oversaw the Opinion page team, conducted community outreach to attract new audiences, and focused on public service journalism through data-driven analyses. Previously she covered state government and politics in her role as the Press-Gazette’s Madison bureau chief. Michel began her daily newspaper career in Wisconsin as a reporter at the La Crosse Tribune and went on to The Dallas Morning News in Texas, where she covered a variety of beats. From 1987 to 2005, Michel was part-owner of the twice-monthly newspaper News From Indian Country, published in northern Wisconsin. She has written extensively about Native American issues as a freelancer and was a columnist for The New York Times Syndicate’s former New America News Service. In 2008, Michel completed a two-year term as president of UNITY: Journalists of Color, the largest journalism organization in the nation, representing thousands of news reporters and editors of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. A past president of the Native American Journalists Association, Michel has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s degree from Marquette University.

Hemant ShahHemant Shah, board member

Shah is director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In his nearly 25 years at Madison, Shah has explored diversity and disparity in mass communication, connecting issues of identity and representation in the media across not just race and ethnicity, but also nation and diaspora. His work has centered on some of the most important media case studies of the day, from the partisan political debate over Latino/Hispanic immigration to the crisis and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shah has a bachelor’s degree in communication and sociology from the University of California-San Diego, a master’s degree in communication from Purdue University, and a doctorate from the Indiana University School of Journalism. He is the author of several books, most recently, “The Production of Modernization: Daniel Lerner, Mass Media and the Passing of Traditional Society” (Temple University Press, 2011).

Former board members

Marilyn Krause

Krause is 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 level management with responsibilities for staff training and mentoring, strategic planning and operations, labor negotiations and budget management. Her current community involvement includes serving as a director and past president of the Milwaukee Press Club; a director at TEMPO Milwaukee and the Lake Country Charity Connection; and a volunteer at Make-A-Wish Wisconsin and Your Choice to Live, Inc. Krause received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Scott Haumersen

Haumersen, a certified public accountant since 1985, joined Wegner LLP, CPAs and Consultants in Madison in 1981 and was appointed partner in 1990. In 2002, he was appointed managing partner. Haumersen is the partner-in-charge of the tax-exempt group which serves more than 400 clients with budgets ranging from $100,000 to $25 million. His expertise in this area includes financial and compliance audits, management information systems, nonprofit advisory services and tax consulting to tax-exempt organizations. He has held numerous seminars and training programs for tax-exempt organizations and has won many awards for his services in the field. Haumersen has been a member of numerous boards of directors, and has been active on local nonprofit committees. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Institute of Management Accountants. Haumersen was appointed to the founding board of the Wisconsin Nonprofits Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

denise callaway

Denise Callaway

Denise Callaway joined the Milwaukee Public Schools as business and community partnerships coordinator in 2010. Prior to joining MPS, Callaway worked for more than seven years at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation as director of communications. A communications professional in Milwaukee for more than 30 years, she was an award-winning reporter for WTMJ-TV and served as director of communications and public affairs for the Milwaukee Public Schools. In her new position at MPS, Callaway focuses on growing partnerships with the community, local businesses and foundations and is executive director of the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation. Callaway is the past chair of CommA, an international association of community foundation communication professionals, and a former member of the Council on Foundation’s Communications & Marketing Committee. Callaway is active in many community organizations, including Fourth Street Forum, where she also serves on the Executive Committee and as a moderator for the public affairs program on Milwaukee Public Television. She is a charter member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Milwaukee. Callaway earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Indiana State University, where she currently serves as a member of the African-American Alumni Advisory Committee.