Biographies

WEAC Region 6 Leaders

Kirah Zeilinger – President of WEAC Region 6

My name is Kirah Zeilinger and I am president of WEAC Region 6. I am a special education teacher in the Beloit school district. I have taught Kindergarten, 4K, and Early Childhood Special Education. I have been a member of the BEA since my mentor brought me along to a meeting my first month teaching. My family and I live in Beloit. I have a dog and two cats. I love to travel in my free time, and am enjoying my time learning and growing through my work with the region.

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.

Brenda Morris – WEAC Region 6 Secretary

I grew up in Texas and moved to Wisconsin in 1997. I have taught English at Lake Mills High School for 19 years, and in that time I’ve fulfilled many roles in the union, including local secretary, vice president and president; CAUS-North board of directors and secretary; and RA delegate to CAUS-North, Region 6, WEAC and NEA. I love the union because we all support each other’s best interests so we can successfully teach our students while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I enjoy relaxing by reading, gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Meredith Smith – WEAC Region 6 Treasurer

After living in many places because of the U.S. Army, my husband and I decided to move back to Wisconsin, which we felt was a great place with great schools to raise our three children, who are now public school graduates. I have been teaching science at Belleville High School since 2003 and that is where my interest in union work began. Before Act 10 I was an active member of our district’s negotiations team and after Act 10 I became more active at the next level. I have served as a Zone Representative and am currently an  active member of the region’s membership committee and am the Region 6 Treasurer. I believe in our public schools and I believe that they are better for our students because of our strong professional organization.

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

I have been teaching for more than 25 years and if it wasn’t for my union at my first job, I’d have only lasted two. As such, I quickly learned the value of the union and have been very active in the union, holding roles from president to Action Team member. Currently, I’m the chair of our Policy Management Team (the new name for our negotiating team) and also serve as your Zone 4 rep at the Regional level. I’ve been to too many WEAC and Region 6  RAs to count and recently completed my second NEA RA. I guess the nuts and bolts part of the union is where my passion lies, specifically in advocating for social/racial justice. I teach Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, and Human Anatomy & Physiology in Oregon. When I’m not doing union work or teaching, I’m likely chauffeuring my two kids to and from their activities!

Justin Kamp – Zone V Representative

I graduated from the UW-Whitewater in 2013 with a degree in Instrumental and General Music Education. I taught K-3 Music and 6th grade and band lessons in Milton for five years and this fall has accepted a new position in the Whitewater Unified School District teaching K-5 Music and 5th grade Band. I have been published in the Wisconsin School Musician and as a guest writer for the online Music Technology website: Midnight Music out of Australia. I am currently the Zone 5 Representative for Region 6, a member of the WEAC Quality Education Committee. I have been the vice president, building representative, and WEAC RA delegate with the Milton Education Association.

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

I have been teaching teenagers English at Monona Grove High School since the fall of 2000. I am currently the Action Team chair for the MGEA and serve as a co-chair for the Region 6 Political Action Committee. I have attended NEA trainings in leadership, racial and social justice, and communication.

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

My name is Mendy Dorris and I am a director for Region 6. I was a high school social studies teacher in the Monona Grove School District for six years before being hired by WEAC as a UniServ intern in 2008. In 2009, I was hired as UniServ director by Capital Area UniServ South. When the UniServs merged, I became a director for Region 6. As the staff liaison to the membership committee, I work to engage members in Region 6 professional development and advocacy work.

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 and I am one of the staff assistants in the WEAC Region 6 office. Before the merger in 2014 I was employed by the Rock Valley Education Professionals as a Staff Assistant beginning in 2002. Prior to working for RVEP I worked as a support staff member in the School District of Janesville.

Margo Schmidt – Staff Assistant

Margo

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.