Board of Visitors

The Board of Visitors for the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine serves as an external advisory body to the dean of the school. Members of the board have attained prominence in their respective careers and are chosen because of their value in providing sound advice and counsel to the dean.

The school also has an ambassador board, which is made up of past Board of Visitors members.

Resources for Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Members

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Nancy Ballsrud

Nancy Ballsrud MBA’75
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nancy joined the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) Board of Directors in 2007 and was chair in 2012-2013. She also served on the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Board 2014-2017, following the merger of the two organizations. Nancy co-chaired the Alumni Park Fundraising Committee and serves on the Park’s Steering Committee. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Nancy is the daughter of two Badgers who hailed from Wauwatosa and Westby, Wisconsin. She did her undergraduate work at Mankato State College and earned a BS in Business-Finance and a BA in French. She continued her education at Madison, earning an MBA in Finance in 1975. She had a 33 year career at Cargill in Minneapolis and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, primarily in international finance. Nancy and husband Jim Nelson are members of the Van Hise Society and endowed a chair in Early Childhood Development at the School of Human Ecology. They have two children, Laura, 30, who is an editor in Berlin, Germany, and Conor, 27, who works in financial sales in Chicago. Nancy is a member of UW’s Women’s Philanthropy Council and has served on numerous non-profit boards in the Minneapolis area, where she resides.

Tom Bach

Tom Bach DVM’94
Madison, Wisconsin

Tom graduated from the Wisconsin School of Business and soon afterwards traded his interest in finance for a career in veterinary medicine. He graduated from the UW School of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 and has a very rewarding career as a small animal veterinarian. Tom was the owner of two veterinary clinics, had the honor of mentoring many, many veterinary students, and has lectured to first-year veterinary students for over 20 years. He will continue to work part-time at Lakeview Veterinary Clinic in Madison until they boot him out the door.

Tom serves on the SVM’s curriculum revision task force and is on the boards of Madison College’s veterinary technician program and Madison Cat Project. He is currently the president of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.

John Baumann

baumannJohn Baumann ’82
Monroe, Wisconsin

John Baumann is president and CEO of Colony Brands in Monroe, Wis. He is a 1982 graduate of UW-Madison and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a member of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association board of directors. John plays key roles with several organizations, including the Green County Humane Society Endowment Fund, the Monroe Arts Center, the Green County YMCA Foundation, Monroe Main Street, the Monroe Theatre Guild and the Inspire Project. John’s interest in animals stems from his long history in animal rescue and placement. John and his wife Katie, a retired music teacher, share their home with four dogs and two cats.

Debbie Cervenka

Debbie Cervenka
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Ms. Cervenka was Executive Vice President of Phillips Plastics Corporation and an officer on its Board of Directors until the Cervenkas sold the company in December 2010. She was educated at UW-Eau Claire, graduating with a major in journalism and communications.

Currently Ms. Cervenka is chair of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy – Wisconsin Chapter; serves on the North American Cabinet for The Nature Conservancy; and is on the following boards: Ecumen (Shoreview, Minn.), Safe Haven Women’s Shelter and Resource Center (Duluth, Minn.), and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for Northland College (Ashland, Wis.).

Her interest in the Board of Visitors stems from her love of animals and the understanding that it is important to have a teaching college in Wisconsin to train veterinarians and treat our pets with new and innovative procedures that may extend their quality of life. Additionally, the Cervenkas are Badger fans, as Bob is an alumnus of UW-Madison.

Margo Edl

edlMargo Edl
Middleton, Wisconsin

Mrs. Edl believes in being a “champion” for the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). Beginning with her first experience when she brought a seriously ill pet to the small animal hospital, she has seen the amazing things that its dedicated veterinarians and students can accomplish. She has worked to establish the “Mac the Miracle Dog” scholarship to help ease the financial burden for SVM students and supports additional programs within the school. Margo lives in Middleton, Wisconsin with her husband, Jack, and their collection of Brittanies.

Patrick S. Farrell

farrellPatrick S. Farrell MS’83, DVM’87
Russell, Pennsylvania

Dr. Patrick Farrell is a graduate of the original Department of Veterinary Science at UW-Madison with a MS degree in reproductive physiology and endocrinology. He is also a DVM graduate from the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) charter class in 1987. During his time at the UW-Madison, he conducted research in preimplantation embryology and assisted with the start-up of the Human In Vitro Fertilization program at the UW School of Medicine.

Dr. Farrell has been in private clinical mixed animal practice since this time in northwest Pennsylvania. In addition to serving on the SVM Board of Visitors, serves as a board member representing private food animal practices on the AVMA Council on Education. Dr. Farrell also serves local boards for the Boy Scouts of America, Audubon, and Bemus Bay Condo Associations.

Dr. Farrell and his wife Anne are putting the finishing touches on raising three young men and continue to enjoy their time when they find themselves back in Madison to support the mission of the school.

Charity Gottfredsen

Charity Gottfredsen ’02, MS’07, DVM’07
Chicago, Illinois

Dan Grimm

Dan Grimm
Waterford, Wisconsin

Dan Grimm is the Senior Vice President of Global Solution Consulting for BluJay Solutions. He holds a BS in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and an MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. His interest in the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) stems from the positive interactions he and his wife, Kim, have had with the staff over the past 15 years in caring for two of their canine family members that received world-class cancer treatment at the school. Dan is an active supporter of several animal-related organizations, including the SVM, Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County, and Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Melita F. Grunow

Melita F. Grunow
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Melita Grunow is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin. She spent her early years in the Milwaukee area and has lived in the Lake Geneva area since 1958. Melita and her late husband, William, both attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Melita and her husband were involved in numerous family business ventures in Walworth County, the largest being Majestic Ski Area, Majestic Landscaping, and Majestic Marine. While they were raising their three sons, Melita managed the book work, payroll, and ski shop and did the purchasing for these and other smaller ventures. Thirty years of on-the-job training in many different areas supplemented the education she began in Madison.

As their business ventures became larger and more successful, outside help was hired to take over Melita’s duties. After retiring from the family businesses, she had time to pursue other interests.

Her lifelong interest in horses led her to SMILES, a therapeutic riding program primarily for children with disabilities in Darien, Wis. She became an active volunteer in all phases of SMILES and eventually served three terms on their Board of Directors. At this time she was also a horse owner enjoying trail riding with the many friends she had met through the organization. From 2008 to 2013, Melita served on the board of VIP Services, an organization in Elkhorn, Wis., that provides vocational skills and training of all kinds to adults with various degrees of medical or physical disabilities.

Melita has also served on other local boards, including The United Way, Geneva Lake Association, Environmental Education Association, and Town of Linn Park Committee. Most recently, she served two terms on the board of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin (CFSW), based in Janesville.

Animals have always been a big part of Melita’s life. At one point she had three horses, two goats, two donkeys, and a mini horse, plus at least two dogs and a cat or two.

Melita has been a donor to the UW School of Veterinary Medicine for years, and in 2015 she endowed a professorship using matching funds donated by John and Tashia Morgridge. In addition, for the last 10 years, she has donated an annual scholarship to a veterinary medical school student.

Peter Hanson

Hanson-color-2webPeter Hanson MS’94, PhD’97
Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Hanson is the chief veterinary officer at Centrexion in Baltimore, Md., which is a start-up biotech firm focused on developing solutions for the management of pain in people and animals. He completed a residency in large animal surgery in 1993 and both his MS in 1994 and PhD in 1997 at UW-Madison. Prior to joining Centrexion, he was head of research and development and medical affairs at Abbott Animal Health and held senior roles at Merial.

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Phil Jennings

Phil-Jennings-webPhil Jennings JD’93
Madison, Wisconsin

Phil Jennings is the president and general counsel of Next/Partners, Inc., a private equity real estate development firm he founded in 1999 in San Diego, Calif. Phil is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Wisconsin Law School. In addition to his business interests, Phil is a retired U.S. Army Aviation Warrant Officer and served as a UH-60/Blackhawk standardization instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner. Phil maintains his professional interest in aviation as a pilot for UW Med Flight, the critical care transport team of the University of Wisconsin Hospital. It was during his various overseas military deployments that Phil developed an appreciation for the mission-critical role military veterinarians play in ensuring the integrity of food supplies for deployed personnel. A resident of downtown Madison, Phil and his trusty Black Labrador, Tricky Mother Tucker, Version 2.0, and his White Labrador, Kostas, can be found walking on State Street and the Lakeshore Path, rain or shine.

Diane Larsen

Diane-Larsen-webDiane Larsen ’80, DVM’90, PhD’99
Duluth, Georgia

Dr. Larsen is head of Pharmaceutical R&D Projects at Merial, where she is responsible for planning and supervising national and international research projects. She is a former practicing veterinarian and received both her veterinary medical degree in 1990 and PhD in 1999 from UW-Madison. Prior to joining Merial in 2001, she completed a post-docorate at South East Poultry Research Facility in Athens, Georgia.

Jeffry A. Neuenschwander

Jeffry A. Neuenschwander ’82
Detroit, Michigan

Esther Olson

esther_olsonEsther Olson
Belleville, Wisconsin

Ms. Olson, a long-term UW-Madison employee, retired in 2012 as the education and outreach director at the UW Synchrotron Radiation Center. Previously she served as the assistant director of administration for the Physical Sciences Laboratory and the Synchrotron Radiation Center for 32 years. She was also active in shared governance, serving on many campus and system-wide committees and the State Group Insurance Board. She received the Wisconsin Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2002. Ms. Olson has been active in numerous community organizations and has been an advocate for the developmentally disabled and the elderly, recently receiving the Statewide ElderAce Award for Advocacy. Animals have always been an important part of her life, and over the years she and her family have provided a home for many homeless animals.

Jill Pelisek

pelisekJill Grootemaat Pelisek
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ms. Pelisek is the Lawrence G. Regner Executive-in-Residence and an adjunct professor in the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business Administration at UW-Milwaukee. Ms. Pelisek is a retired vice president of First Wisconsin National Bank/Firstar National Bank of Milwaukee, now US Bank, specializing in small business and consumer banking.

Ms. Pelisek is currently or has recently served on the boards of C.G. Schmidt, State Financial Bank, BizStarts, Columbia College of Nursing, Columbia Health System, Columbia St Mary’s Foundation, The Milwaukee Art Museum, The Milwaukee Ballet, The Nature Conservancy – Wisconsin, Rotary Club of Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee Foundation, UW-Milwaukee Golda Meir Library Friends, UW-Milwaukee Bader Institute of Non-Profit Management Leadership Council, Village of River Hills Foundation, Young Leaders Academy Charter School, YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin Humane Society, and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County

She is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Business Advisory Council of the UW-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business, Columbia-St Mary’s Health System’s Audit and Corporate Responsibility Committee, and the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.

Her late husband, Jack Pelisek, was a UW-Madison alumnus, member of the UW Foundation Board of Directors, and was president of the UW Board of Regents. Their many Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds) have benefited from outstanding care at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine.

Janet Raddatz

Raddatz,-Janet-webJanet Raddatz
Plymouth, Wisconsin

Ms. Raddatz is vice president of quality and food safety systems at Sargento Foods, Inc., in Plymouth, Wisconsin, where she has been involved in the development, implementation, and auditing of quality and food safety systems for more than 30 years. She and her husband first became involved with the UW School of Veterinary Medicine more than 20 years ago when their veterinarian, an alumna, referred their cat to the school.

John Schaefer

John Schaefer ’81
Harshaw, Wisconsin

Karl Solverson

Karl Solverson ’94, DVM’99
Westby, Wisconsin

Thomas Torhorst

torhorstTom Torhorst ’65
Racine, Wisconsin

Dr. Torhorst completed his bachelor of science degree in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, played on the golf team, and did graduate work in agricultural economics. He then obtained his DVM from Michigan State University in 1968. During his last two years at MSU, he worked on the open heart surgery team.

His professional career started in Niles, Ill., but quickly transitioned when he founded North Shore Animal Hospital of Racine, Wis., AAHA accredited since 1976. He continued his career in private practice while taking on many additional positions. Dr. Torhorst became interested in wildlife rehabilitation almost immediately in practice by repairing a Red Fox’s broken foreleg. This interest in exotic animals continued his entire career.

Dr. Torhorst served as veterinarian for the Racine Zoo from 1972 – 1990. He became president of the Zoological Society and negotiated for the society to become independent from the city of Racine. He became the zoo director and executive director of the society from 1991 – 1997. During this time, Dr. Torhorst had the opportunity to help design and raise funds to remodel the zoo from barred cages to modern panoramic views.

From 1975 – 2010, Dr. Torhorst served as veterinarian of University of Wisconsin- Parkside’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Additionally, he is one of the founding members of the Racine Animal Emergency Clinic and served two terms on the WMVA Auditing Committee. Dr. Torhorst was also the veterinary consultant for S.C Johnson & Son.

Karen Walsh

Karen_WalshwebKaren Walsh ’81, MA’89
Madison, Wisconsin

Karen retired as assistant dean for external relations for the UW-Madison College of Engineering after a 23-year career at the university. Her awards included the Bollinger Academic Staff Achievement Award and multiple honors from the National Association of Government Communicators. Through their foundation, Karen and her husband, Jim Berbee, are major donors to many local non-profits, including Access Community Health Centers, the Dane County Humane Society, and Madison Opera. They are major donors to Sly’s Place, the shelter for Dane County Friends of Ferals, one of the county’s largest rescue groups. The shelter is named after their cat, Sylvester, who received cardiac treatment at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine. Karen has more than 20 years of experience as a cat foster, with a special interest in socializing litters and working with medical and behavioral issues. More than 200 cats have “graduated” from her foster rooms to new homes. She is the former president of both the Madison Opera Board of Trustees and the Madison Area Concert Handbells. She is also a fiction writer, especially short stories set in Wisconsin. She has BA and MA degrees in journalism from UW-Madison.