Mike McCabe - Newly Announced Speaker

Mike McCabe is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks the money in state politics, fights corruption and works for clean, open and honest government. Mike joined the Democracy Campaign's staff in 1999 and became the group's director in 2000. He previously worked for six years as the Madison Metropolitan School District's communications director and legislative liaison. Mike also formerly worked as a newspaper reporter and state legislative aide. He grew up on his family's dairy farm in central Wisconsin and went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in journalism and political science, and later served in the Peace Corps in the West African country of Mali.

New Speaker - Ruth Conniff

Ruth ConniffRuth Conniff is the Political Editor of the Progressive Magazine. A native of Madison, WIsconsin, she first joined the magazine when she was hired as a summer intern by the late Erwin Knoll after her sophomore year at Yale. Shortly after graduating from college in 1990, she came to work as Associate Editor for the Progressive, becoming Washington Editor and opening the Progressive's Washington, DC, office in 1997. https://storify.com/wheel23wren/don-and-rsquo-t-allow-uadreams-scams-to-ruin-your

Kristen Dexter - Newly Announced Speaker

Kristen Dexter

Kristen Dexter was born and raised in Hallock, Minnesota, on the farm where her dad and grandfather were born and where her parents still live. She spent her childhood riding horse, fishing, playing in the woods and helping on the farm. Kristen graduated from UW-River Falls with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts.

After graduation Kristen moved to Minneapolis and began a small business as a metalsmith.

Kristen and her husband Donn (David) married in 1992 and have three children. Donn grew up in St. Paul and after high school graduation he served four years in the Navy as a medical corpsman on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. After his discharge, he began college at the University of Minnesota with the help of the GI Bill. He graduated from Mayo Medical School and in addition to his clinical practice in neurology he is Assistant Medical Director for a large health system in Eau Claire.

Kristen and Donn chose to make Eau Claire home because the Chippewa Valley seemed like a good place to raise a family – and they
 were right. Together with their children they enjoy canoeing, kayaking, camping, and music. When her kids were young Kristen was involved in community activities like Meals on Wheels, Girl Scouts, and the Altoona Library Board. She was a busy volunteer in the Altoona schools and in 2002 was elected to serve on the Altoona Board of Education. Her interests in politics grew, and in November 2008 she defeated an incumbent to become the first woman to represent the 68th Assembly District.

In the Assembly Kristen served as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Education and as a of the Committee on Public Health, Committee on Renewable Energy and Rural Affairs, and the Committee on Rural Economic Development. She was an ambitious lawmaker and earned several “Legislator of the Year” awards. Outside of the Capitol Kristen has continued to be a strong advocate for her community.


John Nichols - Newly Announced Speaker

John NicholsJohn Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas's "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.


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