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Kate Laird, Interim Executive Director

Kate Laird is a co-founder of Milkweed Connections, LLC and Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance, Inc. She has an educational background in community organizing and has been involved in mental health consumer-led advocacy and peer-delivered services since 2012. She has a passion for building community and forming healing relationships.

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Victoria Welle, Peer Run Respite Program Director

After many years in the worlds of activism and theological studies, Victoria became involved in peer support and advocacy for people diagnosed with mental health conditions. Victoria is passionate about helping create alternative ways to support individuals during times of crisis and distress, and is a proud co-founder of Milkweed Connections, LLC and Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance.

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Mark Wacek, Financial Manager

Mark Wacek has worked as an accountant and administrative professional for four years in the greater Chippewa Valley area. He has degrees in accounting from CVTC and UW-River Falls. One of his interests in college was working in the not-for-profit sector, and he enjoys working with people on a collective mission to help others. Mark served as the treasurer for The Master Singers, another not-for-profit organization out of Eau Claire, WI, prior to accepting this position, and looks forward to contributing his skills to the Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance. Other interests include singing in community choirs, directing a church choir, and spending time with his family. 

Sae Kim, Program Coordinator

Sae has background in social work and public interest law. Through her own experience with more traditional mental health services, Sae became a strong believer of peer support movement and peer run respites and is thrilled to be a part of Monarch House family. Sae is also passionate about fitness and animal welfare. 

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Cassie Jasper, Peer Supporter

Cassandra Jasper, from Colfax, is a peer supporter, photographer, and future educator. She has a passion for energy work and spiritual healing.

Melissa Smith-Tourville, from Menomonie, is a midwife with a background as an educator and life coach, and has extensive experience serving on nonprofit boards.

Sam Ahrens, from Eau Claire, was involved in the advocacy work that led to the State of Wisconsin funding the peer run respite program. She previously worked for Grassroots Empowerment Project, and was charged with opening the first respite in Menomonie.

Anne Swanke, Interim Executive Director
Dan Soler, Financial Manager
Ashley Moore, House Coordinator
Tony Hoffman, Peer Supporter

Tony is easy-going, easy to talk to, but difficult to beat in games.  He is always trying to live his best life and will always tell you to follow your dreams.  In his free time, you can find him biking on country roads, cooking, or sleeping.

Alex Schalte, Peer Supporter

Alex enjoys deep conversations that go on for longer than expected. They're easy going and interests include reading, drawing, video editing, writing, video games, and social issues. They have had a myriad of experiences that have made life talks their favorite past time, along with finding laughter in unexpected places.

Board of Directors

Staff

(More peer supporter bios coming soon.)

Founders

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Kate Laird

Kate Laird is a co-founder of Milkweed Connections, LLC and Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance, Inc. She has an educational background in community organizing and has been involved in mental health consumer-led advocacy and peer-delivered services since 2012. She has a passion for building community and forming healing relationships.

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Victoria (Vic) Welle

After many years in the worlds of activism and theological studies, Victoria became involved in peer support and advocacy for people diagnosed with mental health conditions. Victoria is passionate about helping create alternative, community-based ways to support individuals during times of crisis and distress.

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Milkweed Connections, LLC

The member-owners of Milkweed Connections, LCC were instrumental in the creation of Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance and the opening of Monarch House Peer Run Respite.  This organization would not exist without the dedication, inspiration, and hard work of those at Milkweed Connections.

Victoria (Vic) Welle, Chair

Victoria Welle is the co-founder of Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance, Inc. and the former Program Director of Monarch House. Vic now serves on the board and provide valuable insight and the sense of continuity as WIMA grows.

Sae Kim, Vice Chair
Faith Boersma, Treasurer

Bio coming soon.

Rachel Hayden, Milkweed Liaison

Rachel Hayden is a member-owner and part of the coordinating team of Milkweed Connections, LLC. Rachel provides peer support and holistic health services to those in the Comprehensive Community Services program.

Missy Scherkenbach, Member-at-Large

Bio coming soon.

Jessica Hayes, Member-at-Large

Bio coming soon.

Kate Thomas, Secretary

Bio coming soon.

Tom Diel, Member-at-Large

Tom Diel has over 30 years of work experience in community mental health for Chippewa County. Tom’s passion is to reduce barriers that exist to accessing mental health services , through promoting resilience and emotional strength of individuals.

Bio coming soon.