about MEA

Our Board

Arlen Christenson’s career is a long and industrious one, over which he has made a major difference in Wisconsin’s environment. He is a Professor Emeritus of Law and Environmental Studies at the UW-Madison Law School and was founding Board President of Midwest Environmental Advocates, as well as a former Public Intervenor.

Dave Clausen is a retired veterinarian and a longtime advocate for science-based, natural resources and environmental policy. He is a life-long hunter and outdoor enthusiast. Dave was active in the establishment of the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area.

Early on, he became keenly interested in Chronic Wasting Disease and has studied the subject extensively. He continues to be active on that front, giving presentations and serving as a source of scientific information on CWD around the state.

Dave served on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board from January 2006 to May 2013 including two terms as Chair and thinks the best things about being a former NRB Board member are being a former Board member and having more time to garden, hike, work in the woods and fish the Brule River.

Susan Davidson is a physician in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Dean/SSM Health, a specialization which focuses on delivery care to women with high risk pregnancies. Since she began practicing medicine in 1986, Susan’s concern over increased birth defects in children of rural women led to her strong interest in the influence of environmental factors on human health.

Susan currently serves on the Wisconsin Birth Defects Surveillance Committee, the Wisconsin Maternal Mortality Committee, the Dane County Fetal and Infant Mortality committee, the Legislative and Advocacy Committee of the Wisconsin March of Dimes and the steering committee of the Wisconsin Environmental Health Network.

Tom Dawson has spent most of his career practicing environmental law, first as Wisconsin Public Intervenor (1976-1995), then Wisconsin Strategic Pesticide Information Project Director (2000-2003); and DOJ Environmental Protection Unit Director (2003-2016).

He practiced in state and federal policy and judicial forums advocating for the adoption of statutes, rules, and court decisions to protect the natural resources of the state. He was a founding volunteer member of MEA, served on the Wisconsin Wetlands Association Board, and on the Dane County Parks Commission.

Jamie Ferschinger is a senior planner with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Throughout her professional career, Jamie has worked to increase health equity, environmental justice and community empowerment.  She previously served as the Director of Environmental Health and Community Wellness at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and the Energy Efficiency Project Manager – Sustainability Coordinator at the City of Milwaukee. 

Jamie also serves on the boards of Preserve our Parks, which preserves access to public spaces and upholds the Public Trust Doctrine; Teens Grow Greens, which empowers and builds leadership among Milwaukee teens; and Fund Milwaukee, which supports locally owned, main street businesses that focus on economic and sustainable development.

Maureen Freedland has been an advocate for a variety of community causes including anti-poverty and civil rights work. She has served on the La Crosse County Board since 2005 and is the chair of the regional Solid Waste Policy Board that concerns the environmental disposal of solid waste. She is a member of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee and Health & Human Services Board.

She is a founding member of Citizens Acting for Rail Safety – a grassroots advocacy group in Wisconsin and Minnesota to improve train safety for the benefit of people, wildlife and the environment – and she is also active in local environmental initiatives.

Maureen grew up alongside the Mississippi River in New Orleans and now lives in La Crosse, near the largest and highest quality urban wetlands in Wisconsin, with her husband Robert.

Jan Gentry’s professional expertise includes more than 25 years of experience in Marketing Management, Brand Management, Strategic Planning and Business Development. The scope of her skill set includes development and implementation of marketing plans, brand strategies and tactics, integrated marketing communication, market research and consultative selling.

Over the course of her career, it has been Jan’s pleasure to work for corporations in the area of CPG; such as Nestle Waters N.A., Unilever N.A., Sara Lee Foods and National Pasteurized Eggs, Inc., (a Post Holdings, Inc. subsidiary) – all of which are forward thinking and intentional about their partnerships with the communities they serve and commitment to the sustainability of our environment. However, during the early course of her professional career, it became apparent to Jan that she had more than an obligation to help influence consumption of consumer products. She also had a personal concern for the viability of natural resources and the land that produces them; particularly, water.

Moreover, her own immediate family, who were prominent members of a farming community and entrepreneurial in spirit and practice, instilled in her a deep appreciation for having high quality food, water and soil. She is also passionate about helping those who are not in a position to readily help themselves – communities that are notably disenfranchised, enveloped by health disparities and, unfortunately, often disregarded.

Steven is a native of Milwaukee and a proud graduate of Riverside University Prep High School. After serving in the U.S. armed forces, Steven became a licensed wellness practitioner and founded Beans & Cornbread Wellness for African Americans. He has worked with a number of arts organizations, including Ko-Thi Dance, Milwaukee Public Theatre and Express Yourself Milwaukee, blending arts education with wellness practice in youth development for 25 years. Steven is also a former program director at Nearby Nature Milwaukee, an environmental justice and equity organization dedicated to building healthier and more resilient communities.

Betsy Lawton is a senior staff attorney at the Northern Region of the Network for Public Health Law, where she provides legal technical assistance, delivers presentations and lectures, and builds connections in many areas of public health law, including rural health, climate resilience, and mental health.

Before joining the Network, Betsy spent over a decade working to improve water quality as an attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), where she focused on Clean Water Act implementation and enforcement, reducing agricultural pollution, and preventing drinking water contamination, and represented a broad range of individuals and communities facing water pollution problems.

Betsy received her JD, and a Certificate of Environmental Law, from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame.

Bill Lynch is a Milwaukee attorney whose practice has emphasized civil rights and discrimination cases. Bill has participated in complex public interest litigation. He chairs the Lakefront Development Advisory Commission, a City-County-State body that advises on the impacts of new development proposals for Lake Michigan public Land in Milwaukee County. Bill serves on the board of Preserve Our Parks, a Milwaukee County parks preservation watchdog group, and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. He also serves on the boards of the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Friends of Mwangaza, a Partnership with Tanzanians for improving education in that country. Bill is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the University of Chicago Law School.

Rafael Smith is Climate and Equity Director at Citizen Action of Wisconsin where he focuses on the way climate change disproportionately impacts people of color on the north side of Milwaukee. Rafael is also a member of the Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity.

Laina Stuebner is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and currently works as a grants specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Her previous professional experience includes working as an attorney with the law firm of Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry, S.C. in Green Bay, a legal intern at the Wisconsin Legislative Council, and a law clerk at Midwest Environmental Advocates.

Growing up, Laina spent her summers with her grandparents on the shores of Lake Michigan in Door County. Her deep appreciation for the Great Lakes laid the foundation for her interest in water policy and her commitment to environmental protection. In her free time, Laina enjoys all things outdoors, including sailing, camping and hiking.

Pastor Michelle serves as Senior Pastor at Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, where she works to advance environmental equity and justice, particularly in the areas of housing, lead contamination, gentrification without urban renewal, and water issues.

Prior to joining the ministry in a professional capacity, Pastor Michelle worked as a paralegal for a number of years. She later used that skill set in her work as a volunteer missionary in El Salvador, where she recorded human rights violations and taught in communities and in the prison system. She also worked as a human resources director for a financial software and media company. Pastor Michelle has a great love for people, especially children, youth and elders. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, dancing, traveling, and hosting dinner parties.

Elizabeth Wheat is an Associate Professor in Public and Environmental Affairs, Political Science, Environmental Science and Policy, and the Master of Science in Sustainable Management programs at UW-Green Bay. In addition to teaching environmental policy courses, she teaches courses on environmental law, wildlife law, fisheries law, and natural resources law. Her current research focuses on climate justice litigation and the use of experiential learning in the classroom such as Model United Nations and mock trials.

Elizabeth is also the UW-Green Bay campus pre-law advisor and campus coordinator for a grant from the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovations. Through the MCSII, she created a virtual pre-law speaker series called “All Rise”, which gives students the opportunity to speak with lawyers practicing in a wide range of areas about their law experiences and opportunities after law school.

Elizabeth earned a Bachelor or Arts degree in psychology and political science from Alma College, a master’s degree in public affairs at Indiana University, and a doctorate in political science from Western Michigan University. She serves as a board member of Wisconsin Conservation Voters and as a volunteer advisory board member with the Humane Society of South-Central Michigan. She lives in Green Bay and enjoys spending time with her rescue dogs and cats and watching NFL games.

Jim Zorn is former executive administrator of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), an agency of eleven Ojibwe tribes located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan that exercises delegated tribal sovereign authority to affirm and implement hunting, fishing, and gathering rights reserved in various land cession treaties with the United States. Over his 30 years at GLIFWC, Jim developed expertise on tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction, tribal self-regulation and intertribal co-management, tribal co-management with other jurisdictions, and a wide range of natural resource and environmental laws and policies.

Jim is keen on helping to ensure healthy, sustainable ecosystems and habitats that support self-sustaining natural resource populations and native plant communities. He served on the Steering Committee that developed the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaption Strategy, the Great Lakes Executive Committee in the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and various bodies responsible for developing and implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. After retiring from GLIFWC in 2018, Jim served as Assistant Professor in Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota-Duluth, for the inaugural year of the Master of Tribal Resource & Environmental Stewardship program.

Jim currently serves as a family court mediator in Ashland and Bayfield Counties. He also serves on the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Council of Canadian and United States Advisors. Born and raised in northern Wisconsin, Jim is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. Jim enjoys an eclectic mix of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, boating, skiing, gardening, birding, and sky-watching.

Tricia has been an Associate Justice of the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court since 2013. She has also served as President of the Wausau Board of Education, is founding director of Central Wisconsin Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee, and is a member of Ho-Chunk Nation. She was candidate for Congress in the 7th Congressional District in 2020.

In addition, Tricia is a longtime educator; she has taught in the Legal Studies department at University of Maryland, in the Criminal Justice department at Colorado State University-Global Campus, and serves as law professor at California School of Law, where she also serves as Dean of Faculty. She is a member of the ACLU of Wisconsin Board of Directors, including serving on the Executive Committee.

Tricia’s sense of duty to protect the environment stems from her Indigenous understanding of the need to protect the environment for generations to come. Tricia says that her involvement with MEA is a meaningful way to use her legal background to help fulfill her duty to protect the environment.