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.

Salma Abadin - Community Teams Program Lead

Salma Abadin completed her Masters in Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis and Bachelor of Arts in Classics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Prior to joining the UW Population Health Institute, Salma served as the Violence Prevention Research Coordinator for the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention. In this role, she led research and data analysis efforts for violence prevention using a public health approach. Salma was also a Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellow from 2015 to 2017 where she developed population health and systems change skills through placements at IMPACT Planning Council and the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

Salma is a committed public health advocate and professional with a global sense of community dedicated to data-driven, evidence-based policy and program change to advance health equity.

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!

Alan Talaga - COACH Program Lead

Alan Talaga is a coaching expert who specializes in adult learning and storytelling communications. As a trainer, Alan has led strategic messaging and media trainings throughout Wisconsin and across the country. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association are just a few of the organizations who have used Alan for trainings. As a video producer, Alan has created over 200 video stories for clients ranging from small community groups to large national organizations.

Outside of his coaching and communications work, Alan is a freelance journalist, an occasional comedian, and the father of an adorable, energetic three year old.