Effective Public Leadership Conference Brochure

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership presents



Effective Public Leadership

November 30, 2018

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


University of Wisconsin – Madison

Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center

(702 Langdon St. Madison, WI)

How can lawmakers create effective policy

in a polarized environment?


Our Mission

Our mission at the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership is to understand public leadership and apply it to contemporary problems.


Our Pledge

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership provides a multi-disciplinary, non-partisan environment to study, discuss, and improve leadership. Students, faculty members, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders come together to share knowledge and learn about successful public leadership.


About Governor Tommy Thompson

Tommy G. Thompson was born in 1941 and raised in Elroy, a small town in west central Wisconsin. Thompson was elected to a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1966. He became minority leader in 1981. Five years later, he successfully ran for Governor of Wisconsin and was inaugurated in 1987. He won his next three gubernatorial elections, winning an unprecedented four terms and making him the longest serving Governor in Wisconsin history. Before completing his fourth term, Thompson accepted the call from President George W. Bush to become the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  One of Governor Thompson’s goals was to bring
people together to accomplish positive change. Not only did he achieve his policy goals, he did so while reaching across the political spectrum to work effectively with Democrats and Republicans. He was committed to a vibrant state university, faculty research, and the “Wisconsin Idea” – the principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom and the boundaries of the university.



9:30 am: Doors Open

            Coffee and Light Fare Available

10:00 – 10:10 am: Welcome and Opening Remarks

Ryan Owens, Thompson Center

10:10 – 11:30 am: Leadership and Effective Lawmaking in a Polarized Environment


Peter Barca, WI State Assembly

Laurel Harbridge-Yong, Northwestern University

Mark Honadel, WI State Assembly (former)

Alan Wiseman, Vanderbilt University

Moderator: Barry Burden, UW-Madison 

11:30 – 12:30: “2018: What Changed?”

     Presenter:  Charles Franklin, Marquette Law School Poll

Discussant:David Cannon, UW-Madison

Buffet Lunch (provided)

12:30 – 1:50: Leadership in Politicians and Parties


Scott Coenen, Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum

Aparna Mathur, The American Enterprise Institute

Richard Smith, Kentucky University

Moderator:Karl Rohe, UW-Madison

1:50 – 2:00: Concluding Remarks

Ryan Owens, Thompson Center


Presenters and Moderators

Representative Peter Barca

Representative Barca currently serves as the representative from the 64th Assembly District. He served as Minority Leader from 2010-2017. He has previously served as a Member of Congress, as the Midwest Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, as CEO of the nonprofit Northpointe Resources, and as President of Aurora Associates International. He returned to the state legislature in 2009, having previously served from 1985-1993.


Dr. Barry Burden

Barry Burden serves as a Professor of Political Science, Director of the Elections Research Center, and the Lyons Family Chair in Electoral Politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Burden’s research and teaching focus on U.S. elections, public opinion, representation, and the U.S. Congress. His recent research has centered on aspects of election administration and voter participation.


Dr. David Cannon

David T. Canon is a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is currently editor of the Election Law Journal and is affiliated with the  Elections Research Center.  His teaching and research interests are in American political institutions, especially Congress. He is author of a number of books, has edited several more, and has additionally written various articles and book chapters. His most recent research concerns election administration and election reform (with a continued interest in redistricting). He was also the recipient of a University of Wisconsin Distinguished Teaching award.


Scott Coenen

Scott Coenen is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum (WICEF), a non-profit organization that launched in 2017. As Executive Director, Coenen leads the effort to provide a voice for conservatives in the state’s energy policy debate, with a focus on advancing clean, reliable, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Previously, Coenen worked for Senator Howard Marklein in the State Capitol writing policy for the Joint Committee on Finance.


Dr. Charles Franklin

Nationally recognized government scholar and pollster Charles Franklin has been director of the Marquette Law School Poll since its inception in 2012 and became a full-time member of the faculty in 2013. Under Franklin’s direction as a visiting professor at Marquette, the poll became the largest independent polling project in state history. It accurately captured voter attitudes before every major election in 2012, including the gubernatorial recall, U.S. Senate and presidential races.


Dr. Harbridge-Yong  

Laurel Harbridge-Yong is an Associate Professor of Political Science and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on how elections, institutions, and policy are connected in the United States Congress and in the public. Her 2015 book explored declining bipartisan cooperation in Congress, changes in party strategy, and the ramifications of these changes for member  responsiveness to their constituents and for policy formation. Her current research examines legislative inaction and partisan conflict in Congress and in American politics more broadly.


Representative Mark Honadel (former)

Mark Honadel has always had a passion for the skilled workforce of Wisconsin.  He spent 18 years as a first class steel fabricator and eventually plant manager, before buying and operating an existing business in South Milwaukee.  Later Honadel added a small metal stamping operation as well. During his years as a business owner, Honadel served as a teacher at the Milwaukee House of Correction. In 2003, Honadel ran for the 21stAssembly District and served for over a decade. Since late 2013, Honadel has been part of the Goodwill TalentBridge team, working on Industrial and Professional staffing.


Dr. Aparna Mathur 

Aparna Mathur is a resident scholar in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where she researches income inequality and mobility, tax policy, labor markets, and small businesses. She also directs the AEI-Brookings Project on Paid Family and Medical Leave, for which she was recognized in the 2017 Politico 50 list.


Dr. Ryan Owens

Ryan J. Owens is the Director of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership and is also a professor of political science. He is an affiliate faculty of UW-Madison’s Law School and the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Owens’ research focuses on American political institutions, with a particular focus on the courts. Owens has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, the Journal of Law and Courts, the Georgetown Law Review, and elsewhere.


Dr. Karl Rohe

Karl Rohe is an Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with courtesy appointments in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Electrical & Computer Engineering.  He developed https://murmuration.wisc.edu to study public opinion on social media by “flock” (@murmuration__ on twitter) and studies the statistical performance of computationally tractable estimation and sampling techniques for social network analysis.


Dr. Richard Smith  

Richard H. Smith, Ph. D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky (Ph.D. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). His research is on social emotions such as awe, shame, jealousy, envy, and schadenfreude (pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune). He has edited or co-edited two volumes on envy, and has a recent book on schadenfreude.


Dr. Alan Wiseman  

Alan Wiseman is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Vanderbilt University, where he is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Economy, and a Professor of Law (by courtesy).  His research agenda addresses the impact of political institutions of political actors’ behavior and strategies.  His current scholarship examines the causes and consequences of legislative effectiveness in the United States Congress, the role of party competition in legislative politics and policymaking, and the politics of contemporary rulemaking processes in the United States.  He is the co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking (www.thelawmakers.org).

Join us for future Thompson Center events

Wisconsin Civics Games in Madison (co-sponsoring)

February 2, 2019

UW-Madison Union South, Varsity Hall

Madison, WI

This event spearheaded by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association is an effort to address a decline in civic education and engagement among statewide Wisconsin youths.


Second Chance and Prisoner Re-entry

March 7, 2019

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Monona Terrace

Madison, WI

This free conference will examine proposals to create a second chance for offenders and enhance Wisoconsin’s workforce through prisoner re-entry reform. It will analyze possible job training reforms that will reduce corrections costs, reduce recidivism rates, and increase employment. It will showcase speakers from across the state and country, from the left and the right.  (free continuing education credits may be available.

The Future of Transportation in Wisconsin

April 26, 2019

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Harley-Davison Museum

Milwaukee, WI

This free conference will examine a host of issues relating to transportation reform, including financing for roads, urban and rural transit, ports, and railways. Similar to Thompson’s corridor initiative, this conference will focus on what transportation solutions can mean to businesses and average Wisconsinites as the state prepares for its transportation future.

A full listing of Thompson Center events can be found at:



Invest in Public Leadership

Please consider a tax deductible gift to the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership (a 501(c)(3) entity). Your contributions will fund conferences and bipartisan policy discussions as we seek to return civility to the political process.

The world needs effective public leaders. We aim to foster them.