Members of the Commission

Donald A. Daugherty, Jr. is Senior Litigation Counsel for the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies, an education reform organization based in Washington D.C. Don has over 30 years of experience in trial and appellate litigation and has been a partner at three of Wisconsin's largest law firms. He has been recognized as among the "Best Lawyers in America" and Wisconsin's "Super Lawyers." Don earned his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Hon. Roger J. Miner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has served on the boards of numerous civic and charitable organizations, including as President of the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association. Don is licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. He has been admitted to practice before federal district courts across the country, including the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, as well as the Second, Seventh, Ninth, and Federal Circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Don has served on the Commission since August 2021 and has been the chair of the Commission since September 2023.

Roberta Gassman has had a long career in public service and leadership at the federal, state, and local levels. She was the longest-serving secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and served as an appointed deputy assistant secretary of Employment and Training at the U.S. Department of Labor and as a top advisor to a governor, a mayor, and a county executive. Gassman earned her master’s degree in social work from the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work at UW-Madison, and she has served as faculty for the School and as an honorary fellow and emeritus member of its Board of Visitors. An active community leader, she has served on multiple non-profit boards and commissions, including chairing the Madison Community Foundation Board of Governors and serving on the boards of United Way of Dane County, Edgewood College, the Overture Center, the Rotary Club of Madison, and Madison’s Equal Opportunities Commission. She has been recognized with the Wisconsin Women in Government’s Legacy Award and the Rotary Club of Madison’s Humanitarian Service Award, was named a YWCA Woman of Distinction, and UW-Madison created a distinguished lecture series and fund in her name. Gassman was appointed to the Commission in March 2024.

John T. Hendricks is a retired educator who served in numerous educational, administrative, and community-based roles throughout his career. Hendricks worked for 15 years as a teacher in the School District of Onalaska. He then transitioned to the Sparta Area School District (SASD), where he served as an administrator and superintendent. Outside of the classroom, Hendricks has served as a longtime member of the Wisconsin Arts Board and has spent time coaching young adults with developmental disabilities. Hendricks was named to lead the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce in 2017, and, in 2021, he was appointed to the SASD school board, where he is currently the vice president. He has served on the Commission since March 2024.

Thomas Hruz has served as a judge on District III of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals since September 2014. Previously, he was a shareholder at Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols, S.C., where his practice focused on civil litigation, with an emphasis on appellate work. Judge Hruz received his undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee, summa cum laude, his master’s degree from UW-Madison, and his law degree from Marquette University, magna cum laude. After graduation, he served as a law clerk for Judge John Coffey of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for Justice David Prosser of Wisconsin Supreme Court. Judge Hruz is a past chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin and has served on numerous organizations, include the Wisconsin Judicial Council, the WisTAF Board of Directions, and the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission. He also continues his longstanding service as a Regional Coordinator for the State Bar of Wisconsin High School Mock Trial Tournament. Judge Hruz has served on the Commission since August 2023.

Marci V. Kawski is a Madison-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. Her practice is devoted to representing lenders in connection with consumer financial services, and she frequently handles litigation and compliance issues pertaining to consumer financial products. She has been recognized by leading legal directories, including Benchmark Litigation’s 40 & Under Hot List, and she serves in various capacities numerous industry groups, including the American Financial Services Association, Wisconsin Financial Services Association, Wisconsin Credit Union League, American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Wisconsin. Attorney Kawski has served on the Commission since August 2022.

Mary Beth Keppel is a member of the Board of Directors and a past president of Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center. She retired from the practice of law in 2012 and resigned her law license in 2013. Keppel was a Dane County Court Commissioner for 25 years, served as a Dane County prosecutor for 10 years, and acted as a staff attorney with Dane County Legal Services. Keppel is a past president of the Wisconsin Family Court Commissioners Association, the Dane County Bar Association, and the Dane County Attorneys Association. While president of the Dane County Bar, she initiated the establishment of a courthouse clinic for unrepresented family law litigants. From 2003 until 2008, Keppel served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Board of Bar Examiners which evaluates the character and fitness of lawyers seeking admission to the bar and grades the bar exam. She served two terms on the Board of Directors for the State Bar’s Family Law Section. In 2012, Keppel received the Margo Melli Award from the Legal Association of Women for her contributions to women in the law. She has served as a third grade tutor since her retirement and prepares food for Luke House, a community meal program. Keppel was appointed to the Commission in January 2022 and has been the vice-chair of the Commission since April 2024.

Wynne P. Laufenberg has served on the Circuit Court bench for Racine County since 2017. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she had a private practice in Racine. Judge Laufenberg is a 1989 graduate of Marquette University Law School. She has served as President of the Racine County Bar Association, and served on the boards of FOCUS, the Women’s Resource Center and the Racine County Board of Ethics. Judge Laufenberg chaired the Racine County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee between 2018 and 2022. Currently, she is serving on two statewide committees, the Juvenile Jury Instruction Committee and the Criminal Law Judicial Benchbook committee. Judge Laufenberg has served on the Commission since August 2022.

Barbara Notestein is currently a member of the City of Milwaukee Ethics Board. She is a Wisconsin native and a Beloit College graduate with a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan. After her graduation, she worked as a social worker and served as the executive director of Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. Notestein then served seven terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly (from 1985 to 1999) and was elected by her colleges as the first woman assistant majority leader. In 2000, she was appointed to serve as the Midwest Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Following her service with the SBA, Notestein worked for over 10 years as the executive director of Safe & Sound, an organization dedicated to building safe and healthy neighborhoods, expanding community resources, and supporting young people, and, in 2011, was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for her work at Safe & Sound. She was appointed to the Judicial Commission in March 2024.