Rural America 2020: Announces Wisconsin steering committee

GREEN BAY, WI – To give a greater voice to Wisconsin’s struggling rural communities, Rural America Fund 2020 (RAF), a campaign dedicated to highlighting the negative impacts of President Trump’s policies in rural America, today announced members of its Wisconsin steering committee. The group, which includes business, farm, education, legal, and community leaders from communities across the state, will work to shed a light on how rural Wisconsin is being left behind and is worse off due to four years of the current administration’s policies and costly trade wars. They will also address Wisconsinites’ concern about ensuring clean air and water and protecting natural resources for outdoors enjoyment. 

Wisconsin is one of six states in which grassroots steering committees are leading the charge to highlight the negative impact of Trump administration policies on rural communities. The other states include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota.

“The Wisconsin steering committee will serve as an alternative voice to misinformation and serve as an advocate for policies that make a difference for the future of our rural communities,” said Darin Von Ruden, a Wisconsin steering committee member from Vernon County. “Wisconsin’s rural economy has been devastated by the Trump Administration’s missteps, and it’s time to turn the corner.”

“I’m pleased to speak up in favor of policies that will restore Wisconsin’s rural communities,” said Mindy Walker, a Clark County resident and Wisconsin steering committee member. “Our rural communities are core to Wisconsin’s identity, and it’s time to elect new leadership who will smartly invest in rural education, manufacturing, and agriculture.” 

“The majority in the Wisconsin Legislature has also abdicated its responsibility to rural Wisconsin, with their blind fealty to a failed Administration, flawed leadership at the top, and a complete inability to address the concerns of our communities,” said former Appeals Court judge and state legislator Gary Sherman, a Bayfield County resident. “Through Rural America, we will highlight these failures and help ensure a new era of rural investment through new leadership.” 

Rural America Fund 2020 advocates for policies that benefit rural America, and ensures that in the 2020 election, the economic devastation brought to rural America is not ignored. In Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other states, Rural America Fund 2020 is working to highlight the empty promises and misguided policies that have left manufacturers, educators, main street businesses, farmers and ranchers hurting. Learn more by visiting

For media interviews with Rural America Fund Wisconsin steering committee members, please contact Alanna Conley at [email protected].

Members of the Wisconsin steering committee come from across the state and represent diverse constituencies, and include:

John Hendricks

John Hendricks was an educator in Western Wisconsin for 34 years, culminating in 14 years as the district administrator for the Sparta Area School District. He was most recently the director of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce, where he assisted in small business development and tourism promotion. Hendricks has been honored for his support of the regional United Way organization, the American Red Cross, and his advocacy on behalf of Wisconsin’s military families. He was a member of the Wisconsin Arts Board for eight years and served on Wisconsin’s Interstate Military Compact Commission Council. Hendricks lives on a small farm in rural Monroe County.

Richard Judge

Richard Judge is currently the president of the Sauk Prairie School Board. He has been involved in Wisconsin politics and public policy for more than two decades. He is currently a consultant and the executive director of a public policy advocacy organization. Over the years Judge has held positions in politics, public policy and the private sector, including stints as the Chief of Staff to the Wisconsin Assembly Speaker and Minority Leaders, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Governor Doyle and as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Wisconsin Legislature. His political experience includes campaign work ranging from local elections to serving as the Wisconsin State Director for the John Kerry Presidential Campaign. Judge also worked in corporate and regulatory relations with some of the largest corporations and non-profits in Wisconsin. He lives in Sauk County with his wife and three children.

Gary Sherman

Gary Sherman practiced law in the small Lake Superior fishing village of Port Wing (pop. 164) for nearly 40 years. He was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1998 and was re-elected five more times. He then was appointed an Appeals Court judge where he served until he retired last year. Sherman always focused on the unique problems of his sprawling rural district, which was once described as somewhere in size between Maryland and Connecticut. Small business was always a major area of his practice, as was small municipal government. In the legislature, Gary worked to help improve relations between the state and the Indian tribes (there were four in his district) and to try to provide his impoverished district with adequate access to state resources, a job which, like his owner-built home, will never be complete. Sherman continues to live in Bayfield County.

Sachin Shivaram

Sachin Shivaram is Chief Executive Officer of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, a 110-year old family-owned manufacturing company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Sachin was born and brought up in southeastern Wisconsin. He earned degrees from Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of Cambridge and worked across the globe and across the United States before returning to Wisconsin several years ago. Sachin and his wife have two young sons and reside in Brown County. 

Darin Von Ruden

Darin Von Ruden is a third-generation dairy farmer, and lives and farms in Vernon County. He also serves as President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union Board of Directors and the Wisconsin Farmers Union Foundation, as well as a member of the National Farmers Union Board. Von Ruden is also Chairman of the Cashton Knights of Columbus scholarship committee. He and his wife, JoAnn, have two children.

Mindy Walker

Mindy Walker lives with her family in Clark County where she juggles raising a 2-year-old and working remotely. She came to Wisconsin to go to university and has been a proud Wisconsinite ever since. She served as an aide to a Wisconsin Governor, represented business groups like the Tavern League of Wisconsin before the Legislature for five years, spent a year working for Habitat for Humanity, and for about the past decade has been working in Southeast Asia promoting literacy, democracy, and development. She has also served as an election observer on three continents.