HWLI Staff

Program faculty and staff are located at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

Lesley Wolf - Program Director

Lesley provides public and community health leadership training, education and technical assistance to support local agendas for community health improvement. The goal of HWLI is to strengthen leadership capacity for creating partnerships, policy, and system changes that ensure every Wisconsin community reaches its full health potential. Lesley’s program interests are the social determinants of health and health equity; grassroots community organizing; strategic planning and implementation of public health policy.

Lesley has been providing training and technical assistance to communities across Wisconsin through the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute since November of 2008.

Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Lesley served as the Sales Manager for Homegrown Wisconsin Cooperative. In this capacity, she supported Wisconsin organic vegetable growers as a liaison to chefs in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison and worked with communities to develop localized food systems. Lesley completed her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Lesley also has experience as a volunteer facilitator for the YWCA’s Racial Justice Workshop Series and as a white Caucus facilitator for the White Privilege Conference.

Stephanie Richards, MPH - Community Teams Program Lead

Stephanie Richards is an Outreach Specialist with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Stephanie is the Community Teams Program Lead and as well as the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship Program Lead. Stephanie completed her Masters of Public Health at UW-Madison and earned her Bachelors of Social Work at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Stephanie served as an Outreach Specialist for the Center for Health Enhancement System Studies (CHESS). While at CHESS, she trained and coached process improvement collaboratives in 8 states, studied smart phone apps designed to support recovery, worked with Wisconsin communities to help older adults stay in their place of choice safer and longer, and helped state departments of behavioral health change policies to make better use of technology in addiction treatment.

Stephanie’s research and program interests include asset-based community engagement, quality improvement, behavioral health, program evaluation, social media, and mobile health.

Shor Salkas, MPH - COACH Program Lead

Shor is a Community Coach and the COACH Program Lead with the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute. Shor graduated from the University of Minnesota-School of Public Health with an emphasis on LGBTQ health and community health promotion. Shor is interested in community health, the intersectionality between health equity work and health disparities work and social justice. 

Shor works with communities to harness their strengths and build on them through strategic capacity building and coaching. In their coaching work, Shor centers collaborative leadership, equity, strengths-based approaches, and elevating the voices and needs of those most impacted by systemic oppression. Shor believes that communities already have the wisdom to make big change, and Shor feels humbled to be a part of their journey. 

Maria Schirmer - Community Coach

Maria Schirmer is a Community Coach with the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute. Currently, she is in graduate school pursing her Master of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Prior to HWLI, Maria worked at the Rape Crisis Center (RCC) in Dane County for five years leading the Education and Prevention Department. While at RCC, Maria designed and implemented a Youth Advisory Board for teens working to end rape culture, developed an outreach volunteering program, and created Safer Bar, a bystander intervention curriculum designed for bar staff to create a safer environment for patrons and reduce instances of gender-based violence. Maria also worked at Wellstone Action, training audiences nationwide on grassroots organizing and coalition building and developed their first High School Camp Wellstone.     

Maria’s research interests include: social justice, particularly examining the intersections of race and gender, youth-based organizing, trauma informed care, and art therapy. As a Wisconsin native, Maria is passionate about changing health inequities in the state so that health and wellbeing are not just for a few, but for all!