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University of Wisconsin–Madison
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Advisory Board

The founding advisory board for the Center for Journalism Ethics was established February, 2010. The board meets annually to review center activities, provide advice and counsel, and assist the director in furthering CJE’s mission.

tom bier

The bulk of Tom Bier’s journalism career was spent in the newsroom of WISC-TV, Madison’s CBS affiliate. Starting as a news reporter in 1974, Tom was named  WISC-TV news director in 1977, a position he held for 25 years. Tom was then promoted to station manager and served the last three years of his 42-year station tenure as general manager overseeing WISC-TV, Channel 3000 and Madison Magazine operations. Tom has been involved in several journalism organizations including the Radio Television Digital News Association  where he served ten years on the RTDNA board including one year as the national organization’s Chairman.


Kathy Bissen is director of production for Wisconsin Public Television and is responsible for the creation and delivery of a wide range of services throughout the state. Previously, Bissen was the executive producer of news and public affairs at WPT, overseeing all news and documentary production for the statewide network. Since coming to WPT in 1989, Bissen has been the executive producer on diverse projects that include Here and Now and WeekEnd, weekly statewide news programs, Concerts on the Square® and the In Wisconsin series. Her work as an executive producer on WPT programs has garnered three regional Emmy Awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award and two prestigious USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite National Awards for Excellence in Political Journalism. During her career, she has reported extensively on science, health, legal, educational and environmental issues.


James “Jim” Burgess grew up in La Crosse and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Madison in 1958. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he interned at several newspapers. He was business and production manager at the Missoula Missoulian and publisher of the Helena Independent Record, both in Montana. He went on to be publisher of the La Crosse Tribune and eventually executive vice president of Lee Enterprises, charged with corporate management and overseeing 19 newspapers from the Midwest to the West Coast. He then served as publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal. He has been a member of the Board of Visitors for the College of Letters & Science since 1997, and is a member of the School of Journalism & Mass Communications Board of Visitors as well. In 2005, Burgess was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association. That year, he also endowed Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics. Burgess lives in Madison with his wife, Catherine. They share four children and 10 grandchildren.


Scott Cohn is an internationally recognized reporter, and an alumnus of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Based in northern California, Cohn serves as a special correspondent for CNBC. He also reports for NBC News, MSNBC, Public Television’s Nightly Business Report, and the American Public Media program Marketplace. In 2014, he founded Twiddlewater Media Ltd., a full-service news production and consulting firm. He assumed his current role after more than 25 years as a reporter for CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989 and eventually rising to Senior Correspondent. He has also worked as a reporter and anchor for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Public Radio.


Rick Fetherston graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and law.  He was a television journalist for 22 years before leading the corporate communications division at American Family Insurance for 22 years, retiring as senior vice president and a member of the senior leadership team.  He served on the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics authority board of directors from 2011-2014. Rick and his wife Judy A. Fetherston, a registered nurse, have been married since 1975 and have raised three sons.


Peter Fox has more than 35 years’ experience in communications. He is executive director of the Park County Community Foundation in Livingston, MT. He holds bachelors and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fox spent 24 years in newspapers in Wisconsin and Montana, including nine years as editor of The Journal Times in Racine. Subsequently, he served as director of public information for the UW System Administration, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations, and as executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. He is a recipient of the SJMC “Distinguished Service Award” and the WNA “Distinguished Service Award for Contributions to Wisconsin Newspapers” for “… his relentless advocacy to ensure public access to government records and meetings.”


Ellen Foley is a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna, an award-winning journalist, an accomplished digital media advisor and a strategic communications corporate executive. She is Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at WPS Health Solutions. Ellen wove an interest in journalism and strategic communications ethics throughout her 33-year career as a daily journalist, a stint leading an election campaign and in her current marketing and communication job in the health insurance industry. Ellen specializes in complex and community-focused strategic work. Her efforts as editor-in-chief at the Wisconsin State Journal earned the journalists there many awards for online and print projects, including a Pulitzer Prize finalist honor in 2008. In 1988, Ellen founded the Violence Against Women Coalition in Minneapolis-St. Paul after the tragic murder of her sister, Mary. The coalition successfully advocated for legislative change of the penalties for sexual predators. In Madison, Ellen volunteers as a director at Reach Dane, one of the area’s highly regarded providers of early education teaching, including Head Start. She earned a master’s in journalism and a bachelor’s degree in political science, both at UW-Madison.


Jill Giesler is the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago. Previously, she spent 16 years guiding the leadership and management programs of the Poynter Institute. She is the author of the book “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know,” writes a monthly management column for the Columbia Journalism Review, and produces the podcast: “Q&A: Leadership and Integrity in the Digital Age” on iTunes U.  Her first podcast, “What Great Bosses Know,” has been downloaded millions of times and ranks in iTunes U’s top ten collections. Geisler’s first career was in broadcast journalism, as a reporter, anchor, and one of the first female TV news directors in the United States at WITI-TV in Milwaukee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW Madison and a masters in leadership studies from Duquesne University.


Marty Kaiser is a Senior Fellow for the Democracy Fund and journalism consultant. He specializes in leadership, digital innovation, ethics, investigative reporting and editing. He was Editor/Sr. Vice President of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from 1997 to 2015. Under his leadership, the Journal Sentinel earned a national reputation for its journalism and digital innovation. Kaiser’s newsroom won three Pulitzer Prizes and was honored as a finalist six other times. In 2009, Editor & Publisher magazine named Kaiser Editor of the Year. He was  president of the American Society of News Editors 2009-2010. In addition to the Journal Sentinel, he worked for the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun-Times and Florida newspapers in Sarasota and Clearwater. He earned his bachelors at The George Washington University and completed the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management Executive Program.


Jack W. Mitchell joined the School of Journalism & Mass Communication faculty in January 1998 after a 30-year career in public radio. He is author of Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio in and Wisconsin on the Air: 100 Years of Public Broadcasting in the State that Invented It. In December 2009, Mitchell moved to emeritus status, but continues to teach courses, and serve on the boards of the Wisconsin Center for Journalism Ethics and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.


John Smalley has been editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, WI, since December 2008. Prior to that he was editor of the La Crosse Tribune from 2002-2008. The State Journal is a 90,000-circulation daily with a newsroom staff of about 65. In La Crosse, Smalley led a staff of about 45 at the Tribune, a 30,000-daily circulation. Smalley returned to La Crosse after serving as editor of the Mason City Globe Gazette in Iowa from 1997-2002. Smalley was born and raised in Evansville, WI, and is a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate. He and his wife, Barbara, have four grown children and live in Verona, WI.


Working independently and with a national firm, Carol Toussaint has advised nonprofit organizations on public policy issues and fund development strategies. She has extensive experience working with corporate and community foundations as an executive director, consultant and volunteer. Her state government experience includes heading an executive branch agency, directing the Strategic Development Commission and leading an economic impact study of the nonprofits arts. Active in community organizations, Toussaint also operates a lecture business in Madison. The recipient of the Distinguished Alumna award from the School of Journalism and the Wisconsin Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award, Toussaint is one of the original board members of the Center for Journalism Ethics.


Owen Ullmann is Managing Editor for World News at USA TODAY, where he previously held a variety of senior management and editing positions. Prior to joining USA TODAY in 1999, Ullmann worked in Washington, D.C., covering economics, politics, foreign affairs and the White House for Business Week magazine, Knight-Ridder Newspapers and The Associated Press. He has won two awards from the White House Correspondents’ Association for coverage of President Reagan. He received his master’s degree in 1973 from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the UW-Madison, which has twice honored him with awards for distinguished journalism.


Richard Vitkus has more than forty years of broad legal and corporate experience: twelve years with a major Chicago law firm in a wide ranging commercial practice; two years as International Counsel and eight years as General Counsel of Beatrice Foods; and a series of General Counsel positions in both public and private corporations. He has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions, and a breadth of knowledge dealing with boards of directors, takeovers, bankruptcies and international matters. Vitkus currently serves on the advisory board for litigation management company Drystone Capital Corporation of Washington, D.C., and as a director for not-for-profit legal services enterprise Chicago Appleseed, and for Creative Occasions, Inc., a Nashville-based wholesale bakery business. Vitkus spent 12 years as a partner at Winston & Strawn, a major Chicago law firm with a broad commercial practice. Richard holds a bachelors degree from UW-Madison and law degree from the University of Michigan.  He was an active duty officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1961 to 1963.

dave zweifel

Editor Emeritus Dave Zweifel has been with The Capital Times since he graduated from UW-Madison School of Journalism in 1962, serving as the paper’s editor in chief from 1983 to 2008. He was president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council for 15 years, served as a Pulitzer Prize judge in 2000 and 2001 and named to the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Milwaukee Press Club’s HOF in 2014.  A native of New Glarus, WI, where he grew up on a farm, he serves on several non-profit boards and is a military veteran, having served on active duty as a field artillery officer in the early 1960s and for 26 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard where he retired as a colonel in 1993.