Officers and Board of Directors

Officers

Heath P. Straka, President

As President, Straka is the highest ranking elected officer and primary spokesperson for WAJ.

Heath Straka is a partner at Axley Brynelson, LLP. His practice focuses on personal injury, general litigation and also complex litigation and class actions involving wage and hour violations. Heath received his law degree from the UW Law School in 2000.  He has litigation experience in the State and Federal Courts of Wisconsin and has practiced in the successful resolution of numerous Civil Rights and Personal Injury cases.  Heath has successfully argued two cases in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, both involving medical malpractice; Otto v. PIC and Bubb v. Brusky, et. al.  As a member of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, Heath serves as President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice and is past chair of the Program Committee and New Lawyers Section. Heath is also a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association and American Association for Justice.  Heath is fluent in Spanish and has volunteered with the Dane County bar for non-English speaking legal services. He also volunteers in the community.  He is the Past-President of the Patriots Youth Hockey Association; is a past Board Member with Madison Festivals, Inc. (which runs Taste of Madison, The Madison Marathon and Rhythm & Booms); and coaches both youth hockey and soccer. Heath is married with three children.

Edward E. Robinson, President-Elect

Edward E. Robinson is a Partner at Cannon & Dunphy, S.C. in Brookfield. He graduated, magna cum laude, from Marquette University in 1991, with a double major in History and English. Unable to find gainful employment reading poetry and historical biographies all day in coffee shops, he decided to attend law school. Ed received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1995, where he was a member of the Law Review, and a Malt & Barley editor (yes, there was such a position). Since graduating from law school, Ed has been very active in The Wisconsin Association for Justice.  He previously served on the Amicus Curiae Committee, where he authored and co-authored numerous briefs to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Wisconsin Supreme Court advocating on behalf of WAJ.  He has authored and coauthored numerous articles published in The Verdict, and continues to serve on its editorial board.  He has been a frequent speaker at WAJ seminars, and since 2008, he has presented the annual Torts Update at the WAJ Summer Seminar, much to his family’s dismay. He has been a member of the Association’s Board of Directors since 2009. Since 2009, he has also been recognized annually as a Wisconsin Super Lawyers®, and has also been chosen annually since 2011 for inclusion in Best Lawyers®. In 2014, he was privileged to be selected for membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Ed is a long-time resident of Oconomowoc, where he resides with his wife Lee Ann (who he is proud to point out is a public school teacher), and his two children, Connor and Keeley.

Beverly Wickstrom, Vice President

Beverly Wickstrom is a partner in Gingras, Cates & Wachs, practicing out of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin office. She represents injured and disabled people in personal injury, products liability, workers’ compensation and social security disability cases. Beverly also serves as a mediator in personal injury, real estate, nursing home negligence, products liability, contract dispute and municipal liability cases. Beverly received her bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Lawrence University in 1980, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1983. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, the American Bar Association, the Eau Claire County Bar Association, the Wisconsin Association for Justice (serving on the Executive Board since 2014) and the American Association for Justice.  In addition to her law practice, Beverly volunteers with several local organizations that help the homeless and the disabled, served as a mock trial coach for many years, is an advocate for the arts in the Chippewa Valley, and is the Chair for the Eau Claire County Democratic Party.

Jay A. Urban, Secretary

Jay is a founding member and partner of the firm Urban & Taylor s.c. with offices in Milwaukee and Tomah, WI. He represents individuals in complex personal injury and death cases, practicing in all areas of tort law with a specific focus on catastrophic trucking, nursing home abuse, and products/consumer liability matters nationwide (in the MDL federal court system). He has been named to Federal MDL leadership on multiple occasions taking on the large pharmaceutical and other corporate interests who put profits over people. He has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and as an advocate by the National Board of Civil Pretrial Practice Advocacy. Jay has been repeatedly elected by his peers for inclusion in Super Lawyers and  Best Lawyers in America and other such reviews on an annual basis.  Jay has served on the Wisconsin Association for Justice Board of Directors since 1998 and he is the current Governor for AAJ from Wisconsin for several years.  Jay is a frequent lecturer at litigation and trial skills seminars across the country most often part of AAJ and various state TLAs, and is also actively involved in the American Association for Justice and the Southern Trial Lawyers Association.  He was the recipient of the Baldwin Most Outstanding Young Trial Lawyer award from AAJ in 2002 as well as other honors from this association.  As a WAJ officer, he looks forward to continuing the mission of WAJ in the education and networking of the Wisconsin trial bar as well as assisting the organization and our clients in their governmental interests.  Jay is married with two daughters.

Kristin M. Cafferty, Treasurer

Kristin M. Cafferty was born and raised in Wisconsin. She graduated from Marquette University, earning a B.S. in 1991 and a J.D. in 1994. Ms. Cafferty is Past-President of the Racine County Bar Association, and has been on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Association for Justice since 2007. She has also been appointed by the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to serve as the Chair of the District 15 Committee of the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Ms. Cafferty’s trial experience and appellate work, including argument before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, have earned her recognition as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. She is admitted to practice before the State of Wisconsin, the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Her practice includes personal injury claims, automobile accidents, dog bite claims, slip & fall claims, vaccine related claims, and wrongful death claims.

Ms. Cafferty has been named a Super Lawyer and one of the top 25 women attorneys in the state of Wisconsin since 2009. In 2015, she was also named to Super Lawyers’ list of Top 50 attorneys in Wisconsin. She is regularly invited to speak to other lawyers and local community organizations about legal issues. She has also joined members of her firm in presenting mock trials to both high school and grade school students. Ms. Cafferty is also devoted to election protection efforts. Ms. Cafferty is an active volunteer in the Racine community, and was awarded the Racine County Bar Association Volunteer of the Year award in 2012.  She resides in Racine with her husband, Patrick, and their four children.

Benjamin S. Wagner, Immediate Past President

Benjamin S. Wagner is a shareholder at Habush Habush & Rottier. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2003 and also received the Phillips Owens Memorial Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement and community service. Mr. Wagner has successfully tried numerous cases throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Because of his significant trial experience and success, he has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and as an advocate by the National Board of Civil Pretrial Practice Advocacy. He has also been listed in Best Lawyers in America, including the most recent edition in 2018, for personal injury litigation.

Mr. Wagner is the Immediate Past President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, Wisconsin’s largest voluntary bar organization. He is also a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bar Association, American Association for Justice and the American Bar Association. Mr. Wagner currently serves on the Board of Jewish Family Services, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Discovery World in Milwaukee, and the Neuroscience Center Advisory Board of the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is also the current Vice Chair of Safe & Sound, Inc., a non-profit organization committed to reducing violent crime in communities.

He has been appointed by the Honorable Judge Stephanie Rothstein as her Court Commissioner. In 2009, he was selected by Wisconsin Law Journal as one of twenty up and coming lawyers in the state. He has been named a Rising Star from 2006 – 2012 by Milwaukee Magazine. He has also been named to the Super Lawyers list since 2013. In 2014 and 2016 he made the Top 50 Wisconsin Super Lawyers list and since 2015 has been named to the Top 25 Milwaukee Super Lawyers list. Recently, the Milwaukee Business Journal named him to the 2016 “40 Under 40” class, and the Wisconsin Law Journal named him a 2016 “Leader in the Law.” Mr. Wagner has received an AV Preeminent Peer Review rating from Martindale Hubbell, and a 10 out of 10 (superb) rating in the Avvo legal directory.

Mr. Wagner comes from a family of legal and medical professionals and decided to attend law school so that he could use the legal system to protect people’s rights. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2000 from Emory University, where he was a member of the Political Science Honor Society. He served as a Judicial Intern for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice William Bablitch and also was the Lafollette-Peck Legal Fellow for Senator Kohl’s Judiciary Committee Counsel in Washington D.C.

Mr. Wagner practices in the firm’s Milwaukee office, and his practice includes nursing home abuse and neglect, personal injury, car accidents, wrongful death and motorcycle accidents.

 
Board of Directors

Regional Officers/Executive Committee Member (*)

  1. Todd E. Basler, Sheboygan
  2. Robert E. Bellin, Jr. Neenah
  3. Avram D. Berk, Appleton
  4. *Patrick Bomhack (New Lawyers Section)
  5. Rachel E. Bradley, Spring Green
  6. Scott M. Butler, La Crosse
  7. Kelly L. Centofanti, Mequon
  8. Frank T. Crivello, II, Milwaukee
  9. Joseph G. Doherty, West Bend
  10. Charlie Domer, Milwaukee
  11. Noah Domnitz, Milwaukee
  12. *Gregory J. Egan, III, La Crosse
  13. Richard T. Elrod, Appleton
  14. Christine D. Esser, Sheboygan 
  15. Eric A. Farnsworth, Madison
  16. Allan M. Foeckler, Brookfield
  17. Ryan T. Frank, Montello
  18. Jenna Fredrick-Ashbeck, Montello
  19. Paul M. Gagliardi, Salem
  20. Frank M. Gagliardi, Salem
  21. Robert J. Gingras, Madison
  22. Jay E. Heit, Eau Claire
  23. Harry R. Hertel, Eau Claire
  24. Ryan J. Hetzel, West Bend
  25. Michelle Hockers, Milwaukee
  26. Brian P. Hodgkiss, Appleton
  27. Gary N. Jahn, Chilton
  28. Robert J. Janssen, De Pere
  29. Luke Kingree, Madison
  30. Steven G. Kluender, Milwaukee
  31. Eric M. Knobloch, Milwaukee
  32. Mike R. Kruse, Waukesha
  33. Michael L. Laufenberg, Milwaukee
  34. Theresa B. Laughlin, Wausau
  35. Brian Laule, River Falls
  36. Emily I. Lonergan, Appleton
  37. Kristen E. Lonergan, Wausau
  38. *Christopher J. MacGillis, Wauwatosa
  39. *Kevin R. Martin, Oak Creek
  40. Daniel R. McCormick, Milwaukee
  41. *Jacqueline Nuckels, Milwaukee (Women's Caucus)
  42. Patrick C. O'Neill, Milwaukee
  43. Frank T. Pasternak, Brookfield
  44. Terrence M. Polich, Madison
  45. Jacob Reis, Appleton
  46. *Amy M. Risseeuw, Appleton
  47. Christopher E. Rogers, Madison
  48. Randall L. Rozek, Milwaukee
  49. Timothy J. Rymer, Milwaukee
  50. Kristen Scheuerman, Appleton 
  51. Danielle Schroder, Madison
  52. Scott L. Schroeder, Janesville
  53. James Scoptur, Milwaukee
  54. Timothy T. Sempf, Amery
  55. Howard S. Sicula, Milwaukee
  56. *Michael S. Siddall, Appleton
  57. Anthony J. Skemp, Milwaukee
  58. Keith R. Stachowiak, Milwaukee
  59. Christopher L. Strohbehn, Milwaukee
  60. Mark S. Sweet, Watertown
  61. Scott B. Taylor, Milwaukee
  62. Ralph J. Tease, Jr., Green Bay
  63. Tracy N. Tool, River Falls
  64. Robert J. Welcenbach, Milwaukee
  65. Jason W. Whitley, Amery
  66. Peter M. Young, Rhinelander
  67. *Brad Yanke, Stevens Point

 

By District

Regional Officer District 1: Kevin Martin
Senate Districts: 11, 15, 21, 22, 28

11 Mike Kruse, Waukesha (2019)
15 Allan M. Foeckler, Brookfield (2019)
21 Paul M. Gagliardi, Salem(2019)
22 Randy Rozek, Milwaukee (2019)
28 James. Scoptur, Milwaukee (2019)
11 Keith R. Stachowiak, Milwaukee (2018)
15 Scott L. Schroeder, Janesville (2018)
21 Frank M. Gagliardi, Salem  (2018)
22 Kevin R. Martin, Oak Creek (2018)
28 Howard S. Sicula, Milwaukee (2018)

Regional Officer District 2:  Michael S. Siddall
Senate Districts: 1, 9, 13, 18, 19, 20, 33

1 Robert E. Bellin Jr. (2019)
9 Christine Esser, Sheboygan (2019)
13 Mark S. Sweet, Watertown (2019)
18 Michael S. Siddall, Appleton (2019)
19 Jacob Reis, Appleton (2019)
20 Ryan J. Hetzel, West Bend (2019)
33 Timothy J. Rymer, Milwaukee (2019)
1 Avram D. Berk, Appleton (2018)
9  Gary N. Jahn, Chilton (2018)
13 Joseph G. Doherty, West Bend (2018)
18 Kristen Scheuerman, Appleton (2018)
19 Richard T. Elrod, Appleton (2018)
20 Todd E. Basler, Sheboygan (2018)
33 Daniel R. McCormick, Milwaukee (2018)

Regional Officer District 3: Gregory J. Egan, III
Senate Districts: 16, 17, 26, 27, 32

16 Danielle Schroder, Madison (2019)
17 Eric Knobloch, Milwaukee (2019)
26 Eric A. Farnsworth, Madison (2019)
27 Robert J. Gingras, Madison (2019)
32 Gregory J. Egan, III, La Crosse (2019)
16 Christopher E. Rogers, Madison (2018)
17 Charlie Domer, Milwaukee (2018)
26 Terrence M. Polich, Madison (2018)
27 Rachel Bradley, Spring Green (2018)
32 Scott Butler, La Crosse (2018)

Regional Officer District 4: Brad Yanke
Senate Districts: 10, 23, 25, 29, 31

10 Brad Yanke, Stevens Point (2019)
23 Harry R. Hertel, Eau Claire (2019)
25 Luke Kingree, Madison (2019)
29 Kristen E. Lonergan, Wausau (2019)
31 Tracy N. Tool, Superior (2019)
10 Timothy T. Sempf, Amery (2018)
23 Brian Laule, River Falls (2018)
25 Jason W. Whitley, Amery (2018)
29 Patrick C. O'Neill (2018)
31 Jay Heit, Eau Claire (2018)

Regional Officer District 5: Amy Risseeuw
Senate Districts: 2, 12, 14, 24, 30

2 Amy M. Risseeuw, Appleton (2019)
12 Peter M. Young, Rhinelander (2019)
14 Ryan T. Frank, Madison (2019)
24 Emily I. Lonergan, Appleton (2019)
30 Ralph J. Tease, Jr., Green Bay (2019)
2   Robert J. Janssen, De Pere (2018)
12 Brian P. Hodgkiss, Appleton (2018)
14 Jenna Fredrick-Ashbeck, Montello (2018)
24 Theresa  B. Laughlin, Wausau (2018)
30 Christopher L. Strohbehn, Milwaukee (2018)

Regional Officer District 6: Christopher J. MacGillis
Senate Districts: 3,4,5,6,7,8

3 Scott B. Taylor, Milwaukee (2019)
4 Anthony J. Skemp, Milwaukee (2019)
5 Noah Domnitz, Milwaukee  (2019)
6 Michael L. Laufenberg, Milwaukee (2019)
7 Michelle Hockers, Milwaukee (2019)
8 Frank T. Crivello, II, Milwaukee (2019)
3 Jacqueline Nuckels, Milwaukee (2018) 
4 Kelly L. Centofanti, Mequon (2018)
5 Christopher J. MacGillis, Wauwatosa (2018)
6 Frank T. Pasternak, Brookfield (2018)
7 Robert Welcenbach, Milwaukee (2018)
8 Steven G. Kluender, Milwaukee (2018)

Our sponsors