Board of Directors

Meet our board of directors. These individuals passionately volunteer their time to promote a healthy Lake Wingra through an active watershed community.

FOLW Board of Directors (2020-2021)

Gail Epping Overholt (secretary)

Gail is a senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin and the Education Coordinator of the UW-Madison Arboretum. She holds a BS in Elementary Science Education (1987) and an MS in Water Resource Management (1993) with an emphasis on wetlands and public education, both degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gail has worked in natural resources education for over 25 years, with a good majority of that time focusing on watershed, stormwater and Great Lakes issues. She has held board positions for the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, the Friends of Cedarburg Bog, and a short time for Milwaukee Riverkeeper before moving north to the shores of Lake Superior. Her personal goal is to help people of all ages see the “land” as a community of soil, water, and living organisms—not excluding people. Having a special affinity for looking at issues with her eyes on the water, she has enjoyed her time exploring the shores of Lake Wingra and the flora and fauna that call it home.

Tim Kuhman

Tim joined the board of directors in 2017.  He is an associate professor of Biological Sciences at Edgewood College.  Tim completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. His research focused on the role of land-use history in shaping patterns of plant invasion in the southern Appalachains.  Since joining the faculty at Edgewood in 2009, Tim has continued conducting research on invasive plants at the UW Arboretum and around the Madison area.  He has also expanded his research interests to study oak savannah restoration and fire ecology.  Tim teaches a variety of botany and ecology classes, and especially enjoys bringing his students into the field and out on Lake Wingra.  When Tim is not in class or in his office overlooking the lake, he enjoys biking, canoeing, fly fishing, gardening and spending time with his wife and three children.

Sally Lehner

Sally joined the Board of Directors in 2021. She grew up in Madison, WI, and has always loved being in and around water. She has fun spending time swimming, canoeing, and paddle boarding in Lake Wingra, and biking, walking, and running around its shore; in wintertime, she likes to cross-country ski on the lake with her husband and ice skate on the lagoon with her family. Sally enjoys volunteering within the community and advocating for urban amenities, like Lake Wingra, for all to enjoy.  She received her BA in International Relations from the University of Southern California in 1999, and her JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005, practicing law in Madison until 2011, when she became a stay-at-home mother, now with two boys.

David Thompson (vice-chair)

David joined the board in 2010 and was elected Secretary in 2011.  David did his undergraduate work at Stanford University. He majored in Biology and graduated with honors.  Then he obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1974 from the UW-Madison where he specialized in Animal Behavior and Ornithology.  He did his thesis on penguins in the Antarctic.  From 1974-1979, David taught Zoology, Anatomy & Physiology, Ornithology, and Conservation at the UW Center System in Washington County.  During much of this time, he was also a consultant in Wildlife Biology to the U.S. Corps of Engineers.  From 1990-1995, David served as Education Director at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. His interests include gardening with native plants, travel, taking photos that illustrate environmental issues, and serving as a volunteer for a lake similar to Lake Wingra, located in Hawksnest State Park, Massachusetts.

 FoLW Executive Director

Melanie Askay

Melanie Askay joined the Friends of Lake Wingra in 2021. A Wisconsin native, Melanie recently moved back to Wisconsin after living in California almost ten years. With a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and a Master’s in Biology, Melanie’s focus has been on merging funding and policy to protect land and waterways across the state. Her expertise is in bringing together diverse stakeholders around complex environmental challenges, and loves finding science-based solutions that marry political with technical considerations. You can find her most days walking through her neighborhood in Vilas or along Lake Wingra with her two kiddos and puppy Pita.


Denny Caneff

Matt Diebel

Anne Forbes

Tyler Leeper

Jim Lorman

John Magnuson

John Nicol

Rebecca Power

Ben Yahr