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The Third Branch

Staff changes include retirement, departures, new arrival, and returning faces

In recent months, the court system has said hello to a new district court administrator, goodbye to several staff members, welcome back to a few people returning in positions new to them, and congratulations to a couple of people making moves.

Deborah Brescoll
Deborah Brescoll

Budget Director Deborah Brescoll will be retiring effective Jan. 9, 2015.

Brescoll started with the court system on March 21, 2002. She was hired by former Director of State Courts J. Denis Moran as the court system's budget and policy officer. She came to the court system from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Brescoll has lead the court system through seven biennial budgets and worked with judges and staff throughout the court system on innumerable policy and budget issues. This included working with Planning and Policy Advisory Committee's (PPAC) Subcommittee on Court Financing to develop a blueprint for the state taking on the responsibility for more costs of the circuit courts.

Michelle Jensen Goodwin
Michelle Jensen Goodwin

In 2008, Brescoll received an honorable mention for the Virginia Hart Award for her work creating a landmark court system budget for the 2007-09 biennium. The award, named after the first woman to serve on a Wisconsin governor's cabinet, recognizes "unsung heroines" in Wisconsin state government.

Brescoll said she would like to spend time catching up on book club books, learning how to play the piano and plant perennial  gardens, traveling and volunteering.

Michelle Jensen Goodwin, former director of the Children's Court Improvement Program (CCIP), left the court system in September to become executive director of the Children's Trust Fund (also known as the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board).

Jensen Goodwin first joined the court system in 1997 as the CCIP coordinator. She served until 2001, when she went to work for the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services as child welfare policy specialist. She returned to the court system in 2003 to serve as the CCIP director, where she administered a federal grant designed to improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare and court systems.

Donald Harper
Donald Harper

During her time as director, she worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Children's Bureau, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and the circuit courts to implement various programs and initiatives. Some examples include developing the Child Welfare Law Orientation judicial education program, initiating the CCIP E-Learning Project, partnering with the UW-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty to improve data analysis, securing Wisconsin as a Casey Family Programs Judicial Engagement site, and creating the Wisconsin Judicial Committee on Child Welfare.

Donald Harper has been named the new district court administrator for the Eighth Judicial District, replacing John Powell, who moved back to Oregon.

Kerry Connelly Judge Andrew P. Bissonnette
Kerry Connelly Judge Andrew P. Bissonnette

Originally from southeast Michigan, Harper holds a B.A. from Michigan State University and an M.P.A. from Western Michigan University. 

He is a Certified Court Manager (CCM) through the NCSC's Institute of Court Management, and previously worked in Michigan's 54A and 55th District Courts, as a court operations specialist in the Arizona's Administrative Office of the Courts, and as a management analyst in Michigan's State Court Administrative Office.

Kerry Connelly has returned to the court system to serve as the state-wide problem solving coordinator in the Office of Court Operations. Connelly serves in the position on a limited-term basis to fill the vacancy created by Michelle Cern, who left to become statewide drug court coordinator for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

Connelly had served as District Court Administrator for the Second Judicial District for 21 years, before stepping down in 2009. He briefly returned to serve as court administrator for the district last year after Andrew Graubard resigned.

Former Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Andrew P. Bissonnette has been appointed as executive assistant to Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson. Bissonnette served on the Dodge County bench from 1989 until he retired in 2013. After his retirement, he continued to serve as a reserve judge and a court commissioner for the county.

Bridget Bauman
Bridget Bauman
Atty. Ruth Westmont (left), and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan B. Colas present Law Librarian Lisa Winkler with a plaque at her farewell party.Winkler left the Dane County branch for position at the State Law Library.
Atty. Ruth Westmont (left), and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan B. Colas present Law Librarian Lisa Winkler with a plaque at her farewell party.Winkler left the Dane County branch for position at the State Law Library.

Bissonnette fills the position left vacant by the departure of the former executive assistant, Theresa Owens, who is now District Two Court Administrator.

In September, Bridget Bauman was named CCIP Director. Bauman is heading the new department within the Director of State Courts Office to oversee and improve the handling of cases within the court system involving child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, and adoption. Previously CCIP was part of the Office of Court Operations.

Bauman has spent the past 10 years as a Policy Analyst for CCIP. She has also previously worked as an Assistant Public Defender representing children and juveniles. Bauman takes over the role previously held by Michelle Jensen Goodwin.

Lisa Winkler is the new Outreach Services Librarian for the Wisconsin State Law Library.

Winkler served as the librarian in the Dane County Courthouse branch of the State Law Library for nine years.

At the county courthouse branch, Winkler not only managed the library and judicial collections, serving the public on a daily basis, but she was an active participant in courthouse programs, including being a major contributor to Law Day celebrations and the expansion of assistance programs for self-represented litigants. 

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