Home Most Influential Wisconsin’s 40 Most Influential Asian American Leaders, 2023

Wisconsin’s 40 Most Influential Asian American Leaders, 2023


Just months after we published our first news stories in August 2015, we tried something new: we listed and published brief biographies of the state’s 28 Most Influential Black Leaders. People really liked it, shared it on social media, told us who else should have been on that list. Many asked me if we’d do another list the next year; I said yes, we probably would. 

We did more than that. That next year, we published another list of the state’s most influential Black leaders, as well as a list of the state’s most influential Latino leaders. Almost immediately, we started hearing an important and very reasonable question: what about the state’s Asian American and Indigenous leaders?

We wanted to do those lists, but we wanted to do them right. It took us some time to build the authentic relationships within those communities, and to gain their trust. I’m glad and proud that we took that time and did that work; it resulted in us publishing those lists for the first time in 2020. 

You can find all of those past lists at Madison365.org/MostInfluential.

This week we are proud to present the fourth annual edition of Wisconsin’s Most Influential Asian American leaders.

Every year, with every list, I’ve intended to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state. I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it’s possible for people of color to achieve great things here.

This week we shine a statewide spotlight on the dedicated leaders of Wisconsin’s Asian American communties. The people we highlight this week are elected leaders, business leaders and community leaders, doing difficult, important work, often in the face of discrimination and literally generations of oppression.

We are also aware that this list, like every other, is not comprehensive. It’s obvious just from the number of nominations that there are far more than 40 influential Asian American leaders doing good work in Wisconsin. We hope you will let us know about people in your community who we can include on future lists. For now, though, we just want to introduce you to a few of the people doing the work, often behind the scenes and without the accolades, across Wisconsin.

You might know a few of these names, but there’s a good chance that most of them will be new to you. I urge you to get to know them. Reach out to those living and working in your communities. Learn from them, network, create partnerships. And spread the word — let others in your network know that we have people of all ethnicities living and working across Wisconsin to make sure everyone here can thrive.

Henry Sanders
CEO and Publisher, Madison365


Zong Her the director for Institutional Research & Data Management at Madison College. She took on this role in the fall of 2022 after progressing through a number of other roles in research, analysis and information technology over nearly 20 years with the College. Her current work informs the College administration’s decisions and enhances the solutions they prioritize. Her recent work has been fundamental to the College’s interest in identifying and supporting student-parents and male Latino and Black students in their Achieving the Dream equity work. Additionally, she has supported and coordinated Madison College’s Asian Youth Career and College Fair, and helped students and staff deploy their own Hmong New Year at the college. She has long been the liaison between the college and the Madison-area Hmong New Year committee. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration in 1992.

Dr. Josey Chu is owner of Madame Chu, a local producer in Madison, Wisconsin specialized in Southeast Asian Delicacies. Her condiments and sauces are handmade in small batches and produced locally using all natural ingredients. The company offers handcrafted products representing the authentic flavors and techniques passed from generation to generation with a mission to fill the void of Southeast Asian flavors in the market. Her products can be found at many local grocery stores in the Madison area. A native of Singapore, Chu earned a doctoral degree in industrial engineering at the University of Wisconsin in 2003. She currently lives in Sun Prairie. 

Victoria Solomon is Associate Professor in Community Development with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. Her research and educational programming has focused on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in community development. In her role, she focuses on building community capacity through leadership development and public participation. Her work has included leading research on women in government, co-constructing culturally relevant educational programs, and facilitating deliberative dialogue training.  She is also co-owner of Parrfection Produce, near Monticello, Wisconsin, which aggregates and distributes produce to increase healthy food accessibility in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Solomon served on the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP) Board of Directors and put forward organizational change so that SWCAP plays a key role in welcoming refugees to southwestern Wisconsin. Solomon has a master’s degree in Environmental and Sustainable Development from University College London and a BA in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Grace Lim is a longtime journalist and public speaker, currently working as a lecturer and multimedia producer at UW-Oshkosh. She has been a staff reporter at The Austin American-Statesman, The Miami Herald and People magazine’s Miami bureau. She is founder of the Humans of Oshkosh project, where students venture into the wilds of Oshkosh and beyond to talk to and tell the stories of strangers of all shapes, colors and sizes. Lim earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UT-Austin and a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism in 1991.

Dr. Imran Andrabi is CEO of Appleton-based healthcare provider ThedaCare,  which serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout Northeast Wisconsin. He took the helm there in 2017 after 25 years at Mercy Health in Ohio, where he began as an intern and medical resident, and rose to become CEO of the Toledo Region. He earned his medical degree from King Edward Medical University in Lahore, Pakistan.

Matt Rinka is an architect and founder of RINKA, a design collective that provides architecture, interior design and brand media design. Since 2006 the company has worked on nearly 200 projects in the Milwaukee area as well as projects in 200 other cities around the midwest and beyond. Rinka is an Emeritus Member of the  Board of Trustees at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and currently a member of the boards of directors at the UWM Foundation and Froedtert Hospital. He’s a 1992 alum of UW Milwaukee, where he earned a degree in architecture before going on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Washington.

Dr. Smriti S Khare is a pediatrician and president of primary care at Children’s Wisconsin, and executive vice president of Children’s Hospital and Health System. She joined Children’s in 2001 as a pediatrician and in 2018 was selected to lead the Children’s Wisconsin mental and behavioral health efforts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Khare led the creation of a new telehealth service for mental health, which has completed more than 60,000 visits since. She was named a Woman of Influence by the Milwaukee Business Journal in 2021.

Ntxhais “Chai” Moua​ is Co-Executive Director at Freedom, Inc, a Black and Southeast Asian non-profit organization that works with low- to no-income communities of color, where she previously served as Community Power Coalition Director. She has more than 20 years of experience working with low to no-income communities, especially within the Hmong community. She recently relocated to Madison from Stevens Point, where she served as District 9 County Board Supervisor in Portage County from 2018 to 2022, becoming the first Asian elected into any local office in Portage County. During her time on the county board, she co-created the Diversity and Affairs Commission, co-created Census Complete County Committee, and continues to bring a racial and gender lens into local government conversations. Born in a refugee camp, she came to the United States at the age of two. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services Management and a Family Development Specialist Certification from the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice at the University of Iowa School Social of Work.

Michael Nguyen is the Executive Director of Teach For America Milwaukee. Michael came to Milwaukee and began his career in the first cohort of TFA Milwaukee corps members in 2009. Formerly, Michael managed Admissions, Communications, and Fund Development as Chief of Staff at Carmen Schools of Science and Technology, a network of five public elementary, middle, and high schools. He taught in Milwaukee Public Schools and St. Anthony School after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree from Marquette.

Caitlin Mai Chong Lee is Director of Multicultural Student Services at UW-Eau Claire, a role she assumed in 2022 after 20 years working as an equal opportunity program specialist in the university’s Affirmative Action Office, while also assuming leadership roles in campus and community equity and diversity initiatives and programs. A 2003 graduate of UW-EC, she co-founded and chaired the Employee of Color Resource Group in 2021; co-founded and chaired the Hmong Women Summit: The Authenticity Project from 2015 through 2019, serves on the Eau Claire Area School District Equity Steering Committee and Family Advisory Committee; and on the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity Inclusion Task Force.

Ankita Bharadwaj is a lawyer, advocate and activist in Madison. They joined UW Madison’s Office of Human Resources as BIPOC Employee Retention Specialist in November 2022. Ankita engages in creating programs, events and strategies to cultivate a sense of belonging for and with BIPOC employees on campus in an increasingly volatile political climate at the state and national level. Ankita graduated from the UW–Madison Law School in 2020 as an international student; served as the Vice President of Middle Eastern Law Students Association from 2016-2017; and served on many non-profit boards—including the Madison Community Coop, North American Students of Cooperation and as one of the inaugural members of the City of Madison’s Police Civilian Oversight Board that oversees the Madison Police Department. Recently, Ankita was appointed by Governor Evers to serve on the State Council on Affirmative Action to ensure the state’s compliance to affirmative action policies and laws. Ankita was also elected to be on the AAPI caucus board for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. This caucus elects Wisconsin’s Asian and Pacific Islander leaders to guide and advice the party’s efforts towards inclusion for the demographic. Before joining Equity,Inclusion and Employee Well-being, Ankita served as the Democratic Party’s Community Organizing Director of Dane County. Ankita worked to get Governor Evers re-elected for a second term with a record breaking voter turnout for Latino, Black, AAPI, Youth and Women in the 2022 midterms. Ankita also has their own show called Subtle Desi Traits that strives to amplify BIPOC, women and youth voices and talks about world affairs with a Desi perspective.

Jennifer D. Naugle is the Deputy Administrator of the Division of Forensic Sciences in the State Crime Laboratories at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Jennifer has been in the field of forensics for approximately 20 years, beginning as a DNA Analyst in a private laboratory in Virginia. Jennifer has worked on thousands of cases in her career including the World Trade Center Identification project and Cold Case Initiative for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jennifer has also worked on various initiatives for forensic sciences in the state and currently serves on national committees for forensic science policy and national advocacy. Those committees include the NIST Organization of Scientific Area Committees and the National Technology Validation and Implementation Collaborative for Genetic Genealogy. Jennifer is currently the President of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

Dr. Shobhina G. Chheda is associate dean for medical education at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She completed a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at Cornell University Medical College/North Shore University Hospital and received her master’s in public health at Saint Louis University School of Public Health. She joined the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health faculty in 2001. She has been a leader in medical education locally and nationally. She has received the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Dean Teaching Award and the Department of Medicine Schilling-Harkness Teaching Award. She was a founding member of the national Society of General Internal Medicine TEACH program for faculty development. She has received the Clinician Educator of the Year Award from the Midwest Society of General Internal Medicine and recently has been elected president for the national Alliance of Academic Internal Medicine/Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine. In her role as associate dean for medical education, Chheda is responsible for the overall development and management of curriculum and assessment for medical students. Chheda continues in her commitment to patient care through practice of both inpatient and ambulatory general internal medicine at the UW Health West Clinic.

Angela Yang is STEM Center Coordinator at Madison College. A 2017 graduate of UW-Platteville – and first member of her family to graduate college – she joined the staff at her alma mater as coordinator of TRIO Student Support Services where she served and provided academic support to students one-on-one and in group settings, working closely with students from three different populations: first generation, low income, and students with disabilities. She also pitches in at Yang Seasonal Garden, her family’s vegetable business.

Masaya Xiong is a Community Engagement Coordinator under the office of Equity, Inclusion, and Community Relations at Madison College. Her role primarily involves fostering relationships and partnerships with the Hmong and other Southeast Asian Communities, such as Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Laotians. Her main objective is to enhance representation and visibility within and beyond the campus community. IN addition, she also offers support for a wide range of community inquiries and engagement initiatives.She’s been part of the Madison College staff for more than eight years following stints with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison and UW’s PEOPLE Program. She was named a 2019 “Woman to Watch” by Brava Magazine.

Moiz Dawoodbhai is an Associate at Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. Moiz is focused on identifying and sourcing startups, due diligence and portfolio management for NMFV. Previously, Moiz was a Senior Consultant and Innovation Manager in Client Services Strategy at Northwestern Mutual. He led digital transformation efforts to create a personalized customer experience and design new engagement models by exploring insuretech and fintech offerings and co-creating with early-stage startups. Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, Moiz was a part of the Innovation Team at Aurora Health Care, executing both joint ventures with health-tech startups and new product development. Moiz holds a BA in Marketing and IT from UW-Milwaukee and an MBA from Michigan State University. In his spare time, Moiz serves as the head coach of Milwaukee Metro, a youth basketball organization.

Tony DelaRosa is an award winning Filipino American anti-bias and anti-racist educator, motivational speaker, spoken word poet, racial equity strategist, and researcher. He holds a BA in Asian Studies at the University of Cincinnati and M.Ed with a focus on Arts Education and Non-Profit Management from Harvard University, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Education Graduate Research Scholar. He received the 2021 INSPIRE Award from the National Association of Asian American Professionals, and the 2023 Community Trailblazer Award from The Asian American Foundation where he was featured on the special Heritage Heroes airing now on Hulu.  His work has been featured in NPR, Harvard Ed Magazine, the Smithsonian, Columbia University’s Hechinger Report,  Hyphen Magazine: Asian American Unabridged and elsewhere. He has co-founded New York City’s first Asian American teacher support, development, and retention initiative called AATEND under NYC Men Teach, the NYC DOE, and Office of the Mayor.  He served as a Director of Leadership Development at Teach for America, coaching teachers and leading racial equity strategy. Today, he coaches CEOs and Principals on crafting and refining their short-term and long-term racial equity strategy. Lastly, he is writing a book with Jossey-Bass Publishing (WILEY) called “Teaching the Invisible Race,” which will provide practical ways on embodying a pro-Asian American lens, while combating anti-Asian American violence, racism, and hate for PK-12 educators. 

Jaclyn Skalnik is corporate director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Boldt, a nationwide construction firm headquartered in Appleton. Skalnik has two decades of experience in diversity, equity and inclusion, including time as an independent consultant to private and public organizations worldwide. She earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College and a master’s degree in social work and mental health from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Amanda Wong is a practicing physical therapist at Columbia St. Mary’s in Milwaukee and co-founded Young Asian Professionals of Milwaukee (YappieMKE) more than 10 years ago. She has been active in the Milwaukee Asian American community since her youth and throughout college. She values representation, community, and education for the AAPI community.


Yimmuaj Yang is Community Director with Groundswell Conservancy, a 40-year-old organization dedicated to conservation, acting on climate change and connecting people with nature. Since Yang joined Groundswell Conservancy in 2020, she’s closed the gap between non-white farmers and available farmland. Partnering with Madison’s Southeast Asian Healing Center, Hmong seniors — who normally rely upon public transportation or family members to drive them — are provided with taxi service to their one-acre Lifting Hearts Therapy Garden in Westport. This garden debuted in 2021 at the height of the pandemic, and the transportation and supervision for the Hmong elders is the result of Yang securing a grant. As a young child, she arrived in Madison with her family from a refugee camp and went on to earn a degree in cultural anthropology at UW and an MBA from Lakeland University. She was named a 2023 “Woman to Watch” by Brava Magazine.

Kaili Lee is the Diversity & Inclusion Director of TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) & SSS STEM at UW-Oshkosh. She previously served as the Director of Advising and Retention at Lakeshore Technical College and has been providing student support services for college students for the past sixteen years.  Kaili received her Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Education from UW Madison and is an alum of UW Oshkosh with a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate at Edgewood College in their Higher Education and Leadership Studies program. As a first-generation Hmong American college student herself, she is committed to being a champion for supporting and celebrating academic and career success among first-generation, underrepresented college students.

Sabrina Kloehn is chief financial officer at Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin, a role she took on in 2021 after serving for a year as vice president of finance. Prior to joining Goodwill NCW, Kloehn was at RTI International assisting the global chief financial officer. She earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and is a certified management accountant.

Mai Nu Vang is a language arts teacher and reading specialist at Lombardi Middle School in Green Bay. The school’s only Hmong teacher, she spearheaded Lombardi’s first-ever Hmong New Year celebration and served on the district’s APIDA Achievement Summit planning committee. She also serves as vice president for events of Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders of Northeast Wisconsin, a new chapter of a national organization dedicated to the professional development of Asian American leaders.

Chingcha Vang is a program manager at Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) in Milwaukee, where he designs, workshops, and develops training and professional development for Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders in both the corporate and non-profit settings. He joined LEAP in 2021 after five years at Teach for America, first as a classroom teacher and later as a recruitment manager and leadership development manager. He previously served as a social studies teacher at the Hmong American Peace Academy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Southeast Asian History from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership from Marquette.

Lorna Young is a cofounder and executive committee member of the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin, an organization that grew in response to hate crimes and hate speech against Asian Americans in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been a volunteer and board member for the Organization of Chinese Americans -Wisconsin chapter, helping organize the Chinese New Year Gala and Dragon Boat Festival. Professionally, she has worked for 25 years as a market research consultant to the medical imaging industry for IMV Medical Information Division, where she works with all the top clients in the imaging industry, including GE, Philips, Siemens, and Canon. She spent the previous 15 years on the CT Scanner Marketing team for GE Healthcare. She earned a BA in History from the University of Rochester, in Rochester NY, and an MBA from Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY.

Rob Kim has been chief financial officer at Green Bay Packaging since 2017. He joined the firm after six years in vice president and director roles at Ball Corporation and three and a half years at Belden Corporation in Indianapolis. He serves on the board of directors of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the corporate board of Curative Connections. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Angie Lee has recently joined Rawhide Youth Services as an educator, returning to education after a stint as a client relations specialist, brand storyteller and DEI consultant with a creative services agency. She received a Masters in Education in 2005 and has served diverse school populations, including Booker T. Washington Elementary, a dual language school in Champaign, Illinois. Her teaching experience includes serving as a bilingual cross categorical teacher, bilingual literacy interventionist, and most recently a cross categorical teacher at Horace Mann Middle School in Neenah. Additionally, she has led two Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees for the City of Oshkosh and the New North Community Workstream, and was appointed to the Oshkosh School Board in 2022.

Kate Hill is co-owner of Dakonte Product Group, which makes standard and custom size vinyl document holders and restaurant menu covers. She and husband Don bought the business lines from Sussex-based BMG Group in 2016. Several of that business line’s employees were members of Milwaukee’s Hmong community; Hill, who was born in Taiwan, spent 10 years as president of the board of the Hmong Chamber of Commerce. With that in mind, the Hills moved the business from Sussex to the Havenwoods neighborhood on Milwaukee’s northwest side, where many of the city’s Hmong community lives. Before buying the business, Hill spent nearly 20 years running Heartland Information Research Inc., providing economic research to private, nonprofit and government clients, including the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the SBA and others. 

Sarah Wong is an intellectual property attorney and partner at Boyle Fredrickson. A Milwaukee native, she’s spent most of her life involved in the local Asian American community (Organization of Chinese Americans – Wisconsin, Asian American Senior Center) as a volunteer and leader, and co-founded Young Asian Professionals of Milwaukee (YappieMKE) in 2012 as a way to give back and stay connected to the AAPI community. Sarah is also a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor and TEMPO Emerging Women Leaders member.

Wenbin Yuan is chief operating officer at Brainsymphonics, a Wisconsin-based business whose mission is to commercialize new imaging technologies for early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, enabling timely and cost-effective intervention. A geologist by trade, he co-founded Dakota Intertek, an environmental construction contractor, in 1994. He sold that business in 2020. He is also vice president of the Wisconsin Chinese Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with International Rotary, Milwaukee Chinese Times, Modern Milwaukee Chinese School, National Association of Minority Contractors and Milwaukee Chinese Community Center.

Dr. Ruttanatip (Dang) Chonwerawong is a senior consultant at Arredondo Advisory Group, a DEI consultancy. She focuses on access to higher education for students from low-income families, first generation college students, and–most importantly–students who are historically underrepresented in American higher education settings. She has more than 25 years of experience as a higher education practitioner and senior administrator, much of it at the University of Wisconsin, where she led TRIO Student Support Services for 14 years before becoming an Assistant Dean for Student Diversity Programs in the School of Education. In that role, she oversaw multiple programs ranging from pre-college to graduate levels. She previously served as Associate Vice President for Student Academic Support Services at California State San Marcos, Special Assistant to the President of the University of Wisconsin System, Dean for Student Development at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, and Associate Vice President for Student Success at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She received her undergraduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Chiang Mai University, Thailand; Master’s degree in Adult Education from University of Wisconsin Platteville; Master’s degree in Educational Administration; and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from UW-Madison.

Dr. Ajay Sahajpal is a transplant surgeon and executive medical director of the Global and Executive Health Program at Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee. He is also a member of Aurora’s System Hospital Board, the only clinical physician on the board overseeing 16 hospitals, as well as the board of the Advocate Aurora Research Institute. An alum of the Mayo Clinic fellowship program, he was the first surgeon in the U.S. to utilize a technique known as “En Bloc” or “together, at the same time” in which the kidney and liver are stitched together and then transplanted into the patient with a singular incision to the patient’s upper abdomen. “The Economist” has recognized Sahajpal as a global Hepatitis C Change Maker.

Nancy Saevang is director of the Waisman Early Childhood Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, leading a staff of 17 caring for about 100 children aged 12 months to eight years. She started there 10 years ago as an undergraduate student in human development and family studies. She signed on as a full time teacher in 2016 and has since worked her way to the director role.

William Xiong is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for both Wilson Middle School and Einstein Middle School in Appleton. He came to Appleton after 10 years in the classroom in Milwaukee Public Schools. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh and just last year earned a master’s degree from Concordia University. He also runs a summer youth volleyball camp for Asian girls in Appleton.

Maidoua Thao is a Residential Engagement Manager at Madison Gas & Electric. Through her role, she connects with low income/underserved communities to engage about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy conservation. She often translates and interprets for elders and those who have a language barrier. Through workshops, community engagement, and volunteering her time, Maidoua has become a recognized leader with the Hmong community. She was recently named the Hmong woman of the year by Hmong American Friendship Association in Milwaukee and named the Transformational Leader in Madison by the Wisconsin Hmong Association. She received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from UW-Whitewater.

Fanni Xie is owner of Uni Uni Bubble Tea in Appleton, a business she started in 2021 to bring Asian popular culture to the area. As an Army Reservist she was deployed to Afghanistan where she worked as a behavioral health support specialist, supporting the mental health of combat troops. She went on to earn a master’s degree in social work at UW-Green Bay. Noticing a lack of diversity and inclusion in the area, she took entrepreneurship classes at Fox Valley Technical College and launched Uni Uni, which she describes as an immersive cultural experience. Xie also revived the nascent Northeast Wisconsin Chinese Association, organizing a Chinese New Year festival and a Dragon Boat Festival later this year. 

Naomi Takahashi is the director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health, where she supports DEI program expansion and strategic development. She joined SMPH in 2018 after two years as race and gender equity manager at the YWCA Madison and five years as a field faculty associate in the School of Social Work. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University and a master’s from UW-Madison.

Anindita Anaam is Communications & Public Engagement Manager for the mayor’s office in the City of Appleton. She has previously served as a communications manager for a fintech company and the Oconto Unified School District. She is also a classic Indian dance performer and teacher, and a member of the board of directors of the National Dance Education Organization. She holds a Master’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations from the University from Delhi. She also holds a Master’s in communications and public relations from the Indian Institute of Mass Communications. 

John Ludwig is founder and owner of Riley’s Sandwich Company, a dog-friendly lunch spot in Shorewood, and Riley’s Social Club, a dog-friendly lunch restaurant (named after Ludwig’s own 15-year-old dog) with an adjacent bar in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, where they also host live music and other events. The Shorewood location opened in 2021 and the Milwaukee spot just a year later. Ludwig already had 25 years in the hospitality industry, including six years as a Cheesecake Factory general manager, when he and his wife both left their corporate jobs to launch Riley’s. They were nominated for Best Sandwich, Best Sub-sandwich and Best Pet-friendly Establishment in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee awards. Their CBR Sandwich, an organic chicken breast sandwich with bacon, housemade ranch, avocado, tomato, cheese and lettuce, was chosen as the September Dish of the Month in Milwaukee Magazine. Ludwig also serves on the board of the Shorewood Business Improvement District.  Born in Seoul, South Korea and found in a phone booth as an infant, Ludwig was adopted and came to Red Wing, Minnesota at the age of 2. He and his wife now live in Whitefish Bay.

Dhondup Tsering joined the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in May of 2018. He currently works on the Dane County Airport contract detail. Dhondup’s journey within the Sheriffs Office began in the Security Services Division, where he spent three years working in the jail. During this time, he was a booking deputy and trained new deputies. Dhondup has successfully completed the Leadership in Police Organizations program as well as Crisis Intervention Training, acquiring valuable techniques to handle critical situations and provide assistance to individuals in crisis. Outside of his primary duties, Dhondup dedicates his time as a part-time Boat Patrol Deputy and has also volunteered his services for the Dane County K-9 Unit for the past four years, serving as a decoy. Dhondup is an active member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) at both the national and local levels, serving as treasurer of the local chapter. He also serves the community as a volunteer wrestling coach at Madison East High School.

Who’d we miss? Email [email protected] to let us know who should make the list next year!