Agency Leadership Team (ALT)


Kelli Thompson – State Public Defender - (608) 266-0087
Jon Padgham - Deputy State Public Defender - (920) 717-8410

Martina Allen - Budget Director - (608) 267-0311
Jennifer Bias - Trial Division Director - (608) 267-9588 & (414) 227-4975
Joe Keuler - Chief Information Officer - (608) 261-0636
Bridget Krause - Deputy Trial Division Director - (414) 227-4179
Nancy McLean - Human Resources Director - (608) 266-9448
Willy Medina - Communications Director - (608) 267-3587
Kathy Pakes – Assigned Counsel Division Director - (608) 261-8856
Adam Plotkin – Legislative Liaison - (608) 264-8572
Gina Pruski – Training Director - (608) 266-6782
Jaclyn Shelton - Legal Counsel - (608) 261-5417
Sara Ward-Cassady - Administrative Services Director - (608) 261-0084
Katie York - Appellate Division Director - (608) 266-7125

Kelli Thompson
 is the Wisconsin State Public Defender. Kelli received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993, and her law degree from Marquette University in 1996. 
Kelli began her career with the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) in 1996, working first as an intern while attending law school and then being hired as a Trial Attorney in the SPD's Milwaukee Trial Office. In 2001, Kelli went to work for a public relations firm, Zigman Joseph Stephenson, as Legislative Counsel. In 2002, she was appointed as a Commissioner to the Wisconsin Personnel Commission. Kelli returned to the SPD in 2003, and served as Training Director, Legal Counsel, and Deputy State Public Defender before being appointed State Public Defender in 2011.

Kelli has been elected/appointed to a number of legal-profession organizations, including Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD) Advisory Group, Wisconsin Court’s Planning and Policy Advisory Committee, and Executive Committee member of the Wisconsin Statewide Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Additionally, Kelli is active in a variety of community organizations, including Wisconsin Women in Government Past-President and Past-Vice President, the Wisconsin Literacy Council Past-President and the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation.

Jon Padgham
serves as the Deputy State Public Defender. A career public defender, Jon has worked in SPD offices in Milwaukee, Lancaster, and Appleton. Over the years he has had the pleasure of handling cases in 28 (and counting) of Wisconsin's counties. A proud Badger, Jon has both his undergraduate (Human Development & Family Studies) and law degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Jon has served as an adjunct professor and teaching assistant, and currently has the privilege of serving on Governor Tony Evers' Judicial Selection Advisory Committee.

Martina Allen
is the SPD's Budget Director. She received her Master's Degree in Economics from Ostrava University in 2007. Martina began her career with the State of Wisconsin with the Department of Corrections as a Budget Analyst for the largest and most complex division of Adult Institutions in 2010.  Martina joined SPD in 2012 as a Fiscal Officer and brings a wealth of international business experience with her. Martina is originally from the Czech Republic, but moved to the United States with her husband in 2009. While working in Prague, Martina worked as a Financial Controller at well-known international companies such as Maersk Logistics and Nestle.

Jennifer Bias
is the SPD's Trial Division Director. Since beginning with the agency in 1987 as an assistant state public defender, she has served in a variety of leadership and litigation positions and was promoted to her current positions in June, 2000. Previously, Jennifer served as First Assistant State Public Defender in Racine from 1995 to 2000 and Deputy First Assistant State Public Defender from 1993 to 1995. As an Assistant State Public Defender, Jennifer handled a broad range of cases including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile matters and commitments. She previously served on the Pardon Advisory Board, the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission, the Commission to Reduce Racial Disparity in the Wisconsin Criminal Justice System and the subsequent Oversight Commission, and the Governor's Task Force on Racial Profiling. Jennifer served on a number of other boards including the Board of Governors for the Racine County Bar Association, Good Samaritan Board, and the Junior League Advisory Board. In 2004, Jennifer was an unsuccessful candidate for Racine Circuit County Judge. Also in 2004, she was appointed to serve as a team member to investigate conduct matters at Southern Oaks Girls School. Jennifer has presented at the annual public defender conference on a variety of topics. She currently presents the “Best Defense Is No Offense” program to young people at schools, churches and community centers urging them to avoid violence, gangs and drugs. In recognition of her outstanding commitment to community service, Jennifer received the Racine Journal Times Award in February 2003. She has also received the Racine Interfaith Coalition Freedom Award (February 2002), the NAACP Attorney Ted Harris Award (October 2001), and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award (August 2001). Jennifer
 received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1984 where she graduated magna cum laude, and received her law degree from the University of Iowa Law School in 1987. 

Joe Keuler is the Chief Information Officer for the SPD. Joe was previously a System Administrator and Developer for the non-profit Project Home, as well as the Systems Team Lead for the Division of Energy, where he worked on a public assistance program aimed at assisting underserved populations with energy bills. In 2015, Joe joined the State of Wisconsin Division of Enterprise Technology (DET) Innovation Center as a Solution Architect, later taking on the role of managing the Innovation & Enterprise Architecture section where he focused on organizational, fiscal, and technical strategy, consulting with many state agencies on the new technology advancements. In 2016, Joe founded the Application Modernization Collaboration Center (AMCC), a forum for State Agency IT Staff to share successes and best practices, and in 2019 he helped form the DevOps Cloud Center of Excellence, a collection of State agencies whose focus is to bring cloud technologies and automation to the State of Wisconsin. In March of 2020, Joe was appointed to lead the Data and Analytics taskforce for COVID response. Joe holds an undergraduate degree in Information Systems from the UW Madison School of Business and a minor in Computer Science.   

Bridget Krause
is the SPD's Deputy Trial Division Director. Bridget graduated from Marquette Law School in May 2000 and began working at the Milwaukee Public Defender’s Office, Trial Division. She briefly left the Milwaukee Office for two years to work in private criminal defense, then rejoined as a Local Attorney Manager, and was then promoted to Deputy Regional Attorney Manager in 2018. Bridget has been an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University Law School since 2009, and has taught Trial Advocacy 1 and the Public Defender Workshop. She has served as faculty for the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Trial Skills Academy, New Jersey Public Defender’s Program, and the National Criminal Defense College. She also presents on topics dealing with criminal defense work at the Wisconsin Public Defender Conference, Florida Public Defender Conference, Oregon Public Defender Conference, and numerous NACDL programs.  

Nancy McLean is the Human Resources Director for the SPD. Nancy holds an undergraduate degree in Education and has a Master's Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. Nancy stated with the State of Wisconsin as a HR Specialist, moved into Employment Relations and was a Program and Policy Chief with the Department of Agriculture before coming to the SPD. In addition, Nancy has over 20 years experience in the private sector in a variety of HR functions, including: promoting positive employee relations in an environment of change; recruitment and retention; design and implementation of policies and procedures; classification; and affirmative action. Nancy also provides pro bono HR advice to two Madison-area non-profits: Project Home whose mission is to improve the quality and affordability of housing for low-to-moderate income residents in Dane and Green Counties; and Integrated Community Work, Inc. whose mission is to provide an array of supported employment opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Willy Medina is the Communications Director for the SPD. Willy brings more than 25 years of communications experience in a variety of industries to the role. Having received his B.A. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Willy began his career as a reporter covering local governments and business. Most recently, he worked with the American Society of Safety Professionals Foundation, where he helped raise record donations. He also served as the Public Information Officer for the State of Illinois’ largest agency, the Department of Central Management Services. Willy also led multicultural public relations efforts for Sears, Roebuck, at the time, one of the country’s largest retailers. Willy earned his MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. 

Kathy Pakes joined the SPD as Legal Counsel in 2010 and currently serves as the Assigned Counsel Division Director. She holds an undergraduate degree in Soviet and Eastern European Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a law degree from Brandeis (University of Louisville). After a brief stint in private civil practice Kathy began her career in criminal law as a staff attorney in the adult trial and appellate divisions of the Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender in Kentucky. In 2000 she was elected Rusk County (Wisconsin) District Attorney and held that position through 2009. She received the 2007 Meritorious Service Award by the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators and was named the 2009 Prosecutor of the Year by the Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association. Kathy has served as a district committee member for the Office of Lawyer of Regulation and as a Governor’s appointment to the Wisconsin Judicial Council. She is a contributing editor to the WI Criminal Defense Manual and sits on the WisLap Committee for the State Bar.

Adam Plotkin
 has been the Legislative Liaison for the SPD since January 2011. Adam received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000. Prior to that, he worked for a state legislator for 9 years in various capacities. Adam served as policy advisor, committee clerk for the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections, and Urban Affairs, and office manager. Adam is an active member of the community, most notably as Treasurer and Past President of Capitol Neighborhoods, Inc. (the downtown Madison neighborhood association), member of the City of Madison's Downtown Coordinating Committee, and Secretary of the Dane County Emergency Medical Services Commission.

Gina M. Pruski is Director of Training and Development for the SPD. She was appointed Training Director in 2004. Gina has been with the SPD since 1992, starting her legal career as a staff attorney in the SPD’s Fond du Lac Trial Office and then later becoming the agency’s Deputy Legal Counsel where she performed the legislative liaison duties on behalf of the agency.
Gina received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989 and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1992. She is also a 2000 graduate of Duke University's Strategic Leadership for State Executives Program. In February 2015, Gina was elected Vice-Chair of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators Committee and will serve as Chair in 2016-17. She is currently a member of the National Association for Public Defense’s Education Committee, the Wisconsin State Training Council (for which she served as Vice-Chair in 2009 and Chair in 2010) and Wisconsin’s Task Force on Children in Need. Gina previously served on the Child Welfare Executive Steering Committee and was a state reviewer for the Federal Child and Family Services Review in August 2003.

Gina has received extensive training in the area of racial justice facilitation and is one of the YWCA of Madison’s Race to Equity facilitators. She is also a member of the Franklin-Randall Schools’ Equity and Inclusion Committee. Gina is co-author of the Wisconsin Juvenile Law Handbook (1st, 2nd and 3rd editions) published by the State Bar of Wisconsin and regularly volunteers as a judge for the Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. Gina is a 2011 recipient of the Women in the Law honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Jaclyn Shelton is Legal Counsel for the SPD. Jaclyn joined the SPD in 2014 as a staff attorney in the Juneau Trial Office. She then transferred to be the Manager of the Fond du Lac Trial Office. She has a Bachelor's of Social Work and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jaclyn is actively involved in the community, including serving on the Beaver Dam City Common Council. She is the past president of the Dodge County Bar Association and served on the Badger Honor Flight - Flight Team. She is also a graduate of the G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy. 

Sara Ward-Cassady
is the Director of Administrative Services and joined the SPD in 2018. Sara was previously a Principal Court Research Consultant for the National Center for State Courts, and the Deputy Director of State Courts, Office of Court Operations, for the Wisconsin Court System. Sara holds a law degree from Marquette University, and an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.