Board of Visitors | Current Members


Patricia Brady

Patricia Brady received her BA in English (1972) and JD (1976) from UW-Madison. Following law school, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in North Carolina. She returned to Madison and joined the Office of General Counsel of the UW System in 1980, retiring in 2010 as General Counsel. She has taught higher education law at UW-Madison, and has been a frequent speaker on higher education topics. She has served in a variety of volunteer roles with community organizations, and is past President of the Village of Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin. She currently serves on the boards of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority Board. She also belongs to two book clubs.

She is married to Robert J. Smith, an attorney specializing in construction law with Akerman Senterfit. Their ever-growing family includes Pat’s two daughters, Bob’s five children, and—as of this writing—nine grandchildren.


Alec Chang

Alec Chang is a 1987 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he majored in English and a 1990 graduate of Tulane Law School.  Alec is a recently retired partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in its New York City and Palo Alto offices, where he handled antitrust matters related to a broad range of industries.  A devoted alumnus of both Wisconsin and Tulane, Alec currently serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin’s English Department and sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board of Tulane Law School.  In addition to his educational work, Alec has also served on the boards of many professional organizations including the State Board of California, the California Bar Foundation, the Asian American Law Fund of New York, the Asian American Bar Association of New York Foundation and the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association.  


Alan Chesler

Born and raised in South Africa, Alan Chesler immigrated to the United States in 1977. After graduating from Edina West High School in Minneapolis, Alan enrolled at UW-Madison and graduated with a BS in English and Economics in 1985 and went on to complete an MS in Real Estate Appraisal and Financial Analysis under Dr. James Graaskamp in 1987.  

Alan began his professional career in New York as an Associate with J.W. O'Connor & Co., an investment advisor to pension funds, endowments, and sovereign wealth funds focused on regional malls around the United States. After a business trip to San Antonio, Alan left New York for Texas in 1988 and joined the Real Estate Group at USAA, later migrating to their Corporate Finance department. By 1996, Alan had established a sole practice providing contract-based Chief Financial Officer services, which evolved over the ensuing 20 years into corporate finance; real estate finance; securities, and ultimately, principal investing.  

Alan and his wife of 24 years have raised two boys, one of whom is a freshman Badger, and the other who will soon graduate from another Big Ten university. Alan indulges childhood visions of a career on the professional surfing circuit by being towed around the neighborhood by his four Siberian Huskies, and also enjoys gardening (with a focus on the native grasses and indigenous perennials of South Texas); hiking (usually on the peaks around Telluride Colorado); snowboarding, reading, and movies. Over the years, Alan has volunteered his time and money to a broad array of organizations with a focus on women’s health, Zionism, and Jewish cultural continuity.    


Bob Eccles

Bob Eccles is a Madison native. His father was a Professor of English and member of the UW faculty for 43 years, and his mother was an editor at the UW Press. Bob graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. In 1972, he moved to the Washington, DC area, working as an attorney for the federal government for 15 years in the Departments of Justice and Labor.  In 1988, he joined the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and retired in 2012 as a partner in its DC office. Bob and his wife, Mary, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer turned author and psychotherapist, live in Chevy Chase, MD. They have three children and two grandchildren.  


Elissa Federoff

Elissa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003 with a BA in English. She grew up in Woodstock, NY and after graduation headed back east to live in NYC. She spent a few years working for a real estate developer before deciding to pursue her real love, film. She currently works as a consultant in film distribution, helping filmmakers find new and innovative ways to distribute movies.  Before that she held positions at RADiUS, The Weinstein Company (formerly Miramax), Lionsgate and Oscilloscope Labs, all in film distribution. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Sue Gordon

Sue Gordon attended the University of Wisconsin as an English major between 1960-63 when she married and moved to Ann Arbor where her husband went to law school. Years later Sue returned to college at the University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) where she received a BA in 1974 and a JD degree from UMKC Law School in 1977. Sue became law clerk to Hon. David J. Dixon of the Missouri Court of Appeals after which she worked in the legal offices of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sue has been married to Michael, a labor arbitrator, for 53 years. Sue and Michael have two children and four grandchildren; all four grandchildren are in college. Now retired Sue enjoys traveling the world, reading always, and lunch with friends. 


Nancy Gellman

Nancy Gellman is currently retired but has worn a number of “working hats”: elementary school teacher in Mazomanie, WI and St. Louis, MO; first woman wholesale produce broker in St. Louis; and administrator of a family business.  In addition, she is a school volunteer at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School; Trustee of her neighborhood association; founding Board Member and Treasurer of the St. Louis Breast Cancer Coalition; a founding member of the UW Women's Philanthropy Council in St. Louis. and volunteer in several other community agencies. Ms. Gellman was born and raised in Milwaukee, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970 with a BA in English and in 1972 with a MS in Curriculum and Instruction.  She met her husband, Bob, at UW when they both played in the UW Symphonic Band.  The Gellman’s daughter also attended UW-Madison. In addition to her volunteer work, Ms. Gellman enjoys bridge, yoga, Pilates and reading.


Rob Grossman

Rob Grossman is Executive Vice President of Korman Communities, a Philadelphia-area based owner and operator of short-term furnished suites and long-term unfurnished apartment rentals. Mr. Grossman has nearly 40 years of experience in the real estate industry as a practicing attorney and principal, running his own real estate investment firm in Philadelphia for nearly eight years. Rob received his undergraduate degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters degree in English language and literature from the University of Michigan, and his law degree from Georgetown University. Mr. Grossman sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.  


John H. Jankoff

John H. Jankoff receive his BS in English at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1965 and his JD from New York Law School in 1968.  He obtained extensive experience in real estate, business transactions, tax and labor law at specialty firms culminating in joining Shore & Reich, P.C. in New York City in 1978, where he later became a Shareholder and utilizing his diverse legal business background developed an extensive health care practice representing physicians in their transactions and compliance issues. John is married to Ronnie Robinowitz, the Director of Admissions at the Allen-Stevenson School in Manhattan (NYC) and they have a son and grandson, currently all living in New York.


Sig Gundersen

Sig Gundersen is currently the Medical Chair of Gundersen Medical Foundation based in La Crosse which is responsible for the medical education and research programs, as well as the Global Health Outreach and Advanced Care Planning /Bereavement programs. Dr. Gundersen received his BA in English (1974) and his MD from Northwestern University in 1983. After graduation from Medical school he spent one year internship at St Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee then completed his General Surgical residency at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. After his residency, Sig returned home to La Crosse to practice surgery with an emphasis on vascular, pediatric and trauma for the next 25 years. During that time he maintained his American College of Surgeons Board Certification, served in the Gundersen Health System as a Board member and operational Medical Vice President. He also was active in Gundersen’s General Surgery Resident teaching program

When not at work, Sig and his wife enjoy reading and most all of the “silent sports” (kayaking, snowshoeing, rowing, sailing, and skiing). They have recently been involved with global mission work in Yetabon, Ethiopia and plan to do more work in this area in the future. Their faith and serving are very important and they both have been leaders in local non-denomination bible study. His wife is an avid equestrian and can practice the “Art of Riding,” i.e. keeping the horse between you and the ground, most of the time. Sig is an avid reader and usually has 2-3 books in progress, reading everything from science fiction to Shakespeare. His most current novel in progress is THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan. 


Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English in 1973. He worked in New York for several years as a financial analyst in the utility industry before returning to Wisconsin and earning an MBA in Finance in 1980. He then joined the Milwaukee based securities firm Robert W. Baird & Co. and was a Senior Investment Consultant until his retirement in 2013. He met his wife Barbara at Baird.  Tom and Barb enjoy travel, biking and, of course, reading. They have three children including their youngest who is currently a student at UW-Madison.


Jane Katims

Jane Katims (BA, University of Wisconsin; M.Ed, Lesley University) presently teaches contemporary literature and creative writing at The Cambridge Center for Adult Education and at Tufts Institute for Lifelong Learning at Tufts University. She has previously taught at Middlesex Community College, Buckingham, Browne and Nichols, and The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. She has authored numerous radio series for Wisconsin Public Radio, one earning her a George Foster Peabody Award in Broadcasting. In 2004, she was awarded a John Woods Scholarship in Fiction Writing (Western Michigan University), which entitled her to attend The Prague Summer Seminars. She is presently working on a collection of memoir pieces and essays.  A collection of her poetry, DANCING ON A SLIPPERY FLOOR, was published in 2007. Her short story “Until Now” appears in the all-fiction edition of PEARL MAGAZINE, 2009. Recently a non-fiction piece by Jane, “Croissants, Casseroles, a French Bordeaux,” as well as an interview with her about writing, was published in PROXIMITY MAGAZINE. Also, recently a short story of hers, “Without a Hitch,” appeared in THE COACHELLA REVIEW. Jane has three children: Joshua, Ben, and Rachel. She lives with her husband, Dan Perlman, in Arlington, Massachusetts.


Ward Katz

Ward Katz (BS ’66 English University of Wisconsin; Law JD ’69 Washington University, St. Louis; Taxation LLM, ’81) is co-founder and president of Dunes Residential Services, Inc. (formerly Katz Residential Services in 1998) where he oversees operations and is instrumental in the acquisition, financing and management of properties. 

His professional credentials include the designation of Certified Property Manager (CPM) form the Institute of Real Estate Management. He is a founder, officer and director of The Heartland Apartment Association, an association of apartment industry executives active in legal and regulatory issues affecting the industry and is a member of the National Multi-Housing Council, The Missouri Bar Association and is a licensed real estate broker in Missouri and Kansas. 

Ward also serves as officer, member and director of multiple civic, charitable and social organizations including Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City; Kansas City Art Institute; Jewish Community Campus of Greater Kansas City; and is past president of Oakwood Country Club.

Ward and his wife Donna have two grown children and three grandchildren.


Lester Lennon

Lester Graves Lennon was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York. He is an investment banker, who, during his nearly 40 year public finance career, has been involved in the issuance of more than $250 billion of municipal debt. His first book of poetry, THE UPWARD CURVE OF EARTH AND HEAVENS, was published by Story Line Press in 2002. It currently can be found in 70 public and university libraries including the Los Angeles Public Library, Yale, Oxford and the University of Wisconsin where he received his BA in English.  His second book of poetry, MY FATHER WAS A POET, was published by WordTech Communications in 2013. Mr. Lennon sits on the boards of directors of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and Red Hen Press. He serves on the advisory boards of the West Chester University Poetry Center and the English Department of the University of Wisconsin. He is part of a group of poets that annually selects the Poets’ Prize, awarded to the best poetry book published in the previous year, and is a founding member of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Poet Laureate Advisory Committee. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Los Angeles megalopolis.


Maurice A. Lee 

Maurice is currently a Professor of English and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), in Conway, Arkansas. Born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, he has a B.A and M.A in English from Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D in English from UW Madison. While at Madison, he was fortunate to work on the Dictionary of American Regional English, with Frederick Cassidy, and as a graduate assistant, helped to develop the second Afro-American Studies Program in the nation with Darwin Turner. He has taught at both private liberal arts colleges and universities across the country; is the founder and Chief Editor of the Journal of Caribbean Literatures, and has been the director of an international short story conference since 1994. As of this writing, he plans on retiring from UCA at the end of this academic year. He will direct the conference through 2020. 

His pastimes and hobbies are movies, gardening, reading, and classical music, often traveling to other states for a specific concert. His wife of 35 years is a retired Special Education teacher from the Wisconsin school system (Frank Allis), and they have six children from this merged second marriage for them both. He is an emerging short story writer himself, and has begun a volume of short stories about his growing up in Oklahoma. His other task upon retirement will be to write the history of the Afro-American Studies Program at UW Madison. 


Judith Mueller

Judy Mueller (BA ’59, MA ’61 English at UW-Madison) also attended Wellesley College before transferring to UW-Madison. She has been involved in a variety of volunteer activities for many years including League of Women Voters, Junior Great Books, and as a Trustee of the Neenah, WI Public Library Board as well as a Trustee of the Winnefox Library System Board, a regional library system that services five counties and thirty libraries. She was past president of both Boards.  Judy has enjoyed serving on the English Dept. Board of Visitors for the past eight years.

Judy and her husband, who passed away five years ago, were married for 51 years and are the parents of two sons and five grandchildren.  Judy remarried in 2013 and continues to live in Wisconsin. Her father, one of her sons, and both husbands are alumnae of UW/Madison. Judy’s interests include reading (of course), travel, government, and finance.


Tom Pavela

Tom (BA, MA ’73, ’75 in English at University of Wisconsin; MBA ’90 Santa Clara University) started his career in publishing at Little, Brown and Co. working in sales, marketing and editorial management.  Leveraging his editorial management experience, Tom joined the high tech boom.  He worked for over 30 years in the high tech industry at entrepreneurial start-ups and Fortune 100, including Apple Computer, and global companies in a variety of marketing and executive management positions.

Currently, he is an executive advisor, providing advice and consulting services to start-up and small companies on strategy, organizational design, marketing management and sales growth.

He has had a life long interest in fund-raising to support education at private and public schools, including his work in development for the UW English Department.  He is also passionate about evangelizing the value and practicality of an English degree in a wide variety of work environments.

Recently, Tom used his publishing and English skills as Managing Editor of his father’s biography, A BEAUTIFUL DREAM: THE STEVE PAVELA STORY, published in 2013.

Tom has been a California Badger since 1986 and lives in Foster City, CA with his wife, Shelley.  They have two daughters, Aly, a 2014 UW - Madison graduate with double major in English and Journalism, and Kimmie, a senior at Gonzaga University.


Nan Rubin

Nan Rubin has spent thirty years as a marketing professional in the corporate world, including fifteen years developing and implementing multi-media integrated marketing programs for Hearst Magazines’ largest advertisers.

While working professionally as a Senior Marketing Director, she also volunteered her time in Jewish communal activities, serving as a lay leader in various divisions of UJA-Federation of New York’s campaigns and as a board member of the Educational Alliance, a social services organization, and one of UJS-Federation’s beneficiary agencies. Since leaving Hearst in 2006, Nan spent the last 6 years of her career working in non-profit marketing for UJA-Federation of New York and retired in December 2014. She now spends her time as a lay leader in various Jewish organizations.

Nan received a BA in English from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1973, a MA in English from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and a MBA in Finance from New York University Graduate School of Business in 1978. Nan is married to Howard Rubin, has two children, two grandchildren and lives in Manhattan.