Biographies

WEAC Region 6 Leaders

Kirah Zeilinger – President of WEAC Region 6

Tim Vedra – Vice President WEAC Region 6

Tim

My name is Tim Vedra and I am the Vice-President.  I teach 4th grade at Aldrich Intermediate School in Beloit.  I enjoy my work as Vice-President serving our members in the best Region in the state!  I have been very active in the union for the past 16 years at the Local and Uniserv level and look forward to continuing our regional work together.

Kay Bliefernicht – WEAC Region 6 Secretary

kay

My name is Kay Bliefernicht. I teach special education at Oregon High Schooland have been a proud member of the Oregon Education Association for 34 years. I have served in several capacities as a union member. Before becoming secretary of Region 6, I served as secretary in my local for 16 years, and was also a member of the crisis team and negotiating team. At the UniServ level, I served as a local rep on the CAUS-N Board of Directors before I became secretary and eventually vice president. Part of my current duties as Region 6 secretary include chairing the Communications Committee. I am also a delegate from Region 6 to the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL). Somehow I find time for my hobbies (reading, knitting, and card-making) and staying active in my church. I am passionate about making teaching and learning better in Wisconsin. We have an amazing thing going here, and I’m proud to be a part of it!

Meredith Smith – WEAC Region 6 Treasurer

Denise Engstrom – Zone I Representative

Jon Buslaff – Zone II Representative

I am a high school special education teacher at Fennimore High School and the Zone II Representative for WEAC Region 6.  I want to keep members in southwestern Wisconsin informed about the many opportunities and benefits available to them through WEAC Region 6, WEAC and NEA.  

Duane Draper – Zone III Representative

I am a high school Social Studies Teacher, Drama Director, and Forensics Coach at Barneveld School where I have worked for the past 29 years. Over the years I’ve held a number of offices with our local union, including president, secretary, and grievance/member support chair.  My family roots are deeply embedded in education, with my parents and grandparents serving as both teachers and school board members. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the locals in Zone III and hope to bring some insights to the executive board regarding small schools issues in Region 6.

Tracey Leider – Zone IV Representative

Justin Kamp – Zone V Representative

Stephanie Rapach – Political Action Committee Co-Chair

My name is Stephanie Rapach and I am currently teaching at Aldrich Intermediate School in Beloit.  I am a 30-year veteran teacher having taught in the Dayton, Ohio public schools for 12 years, Janesville Public Schools for 14 years, and currently working in the Beloit Public School System. I have been active in the education employee unions since I was a student OEA member while attending the University of Dayton in the 1980s! I have been a building rep, executive board member and member of the negotiations team, and have served on the WEAC Human and Civil Rights Committee as a member and chairperson in the past. I am currently serving as Region 6 Political Action Committee co-chairperson with Kelly Sullivan, and have held that position since the inception of Region 6 in 2014. I live in Janesville and have 3 children: twins Bridget and Michelle, and Robert Anthony. I believe in the power of unions and know that if we want to see change, we have to be politically active and work for those changes to happen!

Kelly Sullivan – Political Action Committee Co-Chair

Staff

Dustin Beilke – Director

Dustin

In the last several years I have worked as a professional staffer for Madison Teachers Inc., the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Capital Area UniServ-North, WEAC and WEAC Region 6. I began working for WEAC in 1999 and spent 12 years with the statewide organization in various roles. I was a PR writer and communications specialist for several years before becoming the WEAC media relations officer and chief communications strategist. I left WEAC’s public relations department for a job in the WEAC organizing department in 2009 and stayed there until 2012. Before coming to WEAC, I worked in the Wisconsin Legislature, was the communications director for two gubernatorial campaigns, worked as a news writer, assistant editor and freelance journalist.

Mendy Dorris – Director

Michael Walsh – Director

Michael walsh

I’m Michael Walsh I am a director for Region 6.  I was a middle school teacher for 21 years before being hired by WEAC as a Government Relations Specialist in 2002. From 2011-13 I worked as an organizer for WEAC, and was hired as UniServ Director for the Rock Valley Education Professionals. I then became a director for WEAC Region 6 and am the staff liaison to the Region 6 PAC.

John Wedge – Director

Rachel Schendel – Staff Assistant

My name is Rachel Schendel. I am one of your staff assistants in the WEAC Region 6 office. I was born in Beloit, Wisconsin. I graduated from Parkview High School in Orfordville in 1988.  After high school I moved to Janesville where I still reside today. I am married to Todd, my husband of twenty-two years. Todd and I have two sons, Samuel and Patrick. Both of our sons attended the public schools in Janesville. Our family pet is a cat named Butters. I have worked with Rock Valley Education Professionals and WEAC Region 6 since 2002. Prior to working with this organization I worked as a support staff member in the School District of Janesville.

Margo Schmidt – Staff Assistant

Margo

Hello! My name is Margo Schmidt and I am one of the Staff Assistants at the WEAC Region 6 office. I was formerly employed by Capital Area UniServ-North from 1995 to 2014 as a Clerk Typist, Secretary and Staff Assistant. My experience as an Associate Staff employee has brought many new challenges throughout the years, constantly increasing my respect and dedication for the field of education. My greatest pleasure is meeting and communicating with our teachers and support staff professionals. Having the ability to assist them with any union related activities or membership issues that should arise, is a very gratifying experience and I look forward to carrying on with those responsibilities as Region 6 continues to move forward to achieve its goal of being a stronger union than ever before!

Barb Simpson – Staff Assistant

Barb Simpson

Over the past 35 years, I have had the privilege of working with WEAC, the CAUS South UniServ and WEAC Region 6.  I came to WEAC with an Associate Degree in Court Reporting and began my career with WEAC working as a Regional Secretary, later moving to the position of Legal Secretary.  I joined the staff at CAUS South in 1987, serving as their Staff Assistant.  Since Region 6 was created through the merger of four former UniServs, I have had the pleasure of working closely with local members, staff and the Board of Directors. Although we have seen many changes over the years, WEAC and Region 6 continue to work diligently for the educators and support staff in Wisconsin and I find it fulfilling to work for an organization that is genuinely dedicated to shaping the lives of its members.