Welcome to our newest board members


The Madison Public Market is excited to introduce our newest Madison Public Market Foundation Board members. Leslie Watkins, Laura Heisler, and Rachel Kerr joined our board in November and have been wonderful additions to the Public Market team.

Leslie Watkins, a longtime Madison resident is an experienced management professional with an extensive background in sales, retail, marketing and strategic planning. With a BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she is an energetic, results oriented problem solver. She is on the board of the Madison Children’s Museum, and previously served on the boards of Four Seasons Theatre, Capital City Theatre, and the Dane County Arts Commission, and she has also done fundraising for the Center for Patient Partnerships and Wisconsin Public Television.

Laura Heisler is Director of Programming for WARF and the Director of Outreach for the Morgridge Institute for Research. Prior to assuming this role in 2009, she served as an Intellectual Property Manager for WARF and as the Program Developer for the Morgridge Institute for Research. She has been involved with numerous aspects of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery project since its inception in 2006. In her current role, she is charged with developing, implementing and directing the programmatic framework for the groundbreaking public spaces at the Discovery Building, including the one-of-a- kind Town Center, which welcome the entire community. Programs at the Discovery building include forums for university and community-based entrepreneurs.

Laura is a patent agent registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Before joining WARF in 2004, she worked as Intellectual Property Manager, Grants Manager and as a research scientist for a biotechnology startup, Third Wave Technologies. Laura did her undergraduate work at Stanford University in Biological Sciences and Classics and earned a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of several scientific publications and the inventor of a U.S. patent.

Rachel Kerr is the Director of Public Relations and Events for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, a non-profit funded by the state’s dairy farmers to grow demand for Wisconsin milk. In her current role she leads the development of brand experiences and communications to grow awareness of Wisconsin Cheese. Before joining DFW, Rachel helped lead the iconic Wienermobile program at Kraft Heinz/Oscar Mayer.

Rachel joined the board as a representative of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and as an advocate for local agriculture. Having worked and lived on Madison’s East Side for many years, she is thrilled to be part of the Madison Public Market Foundation to help make this project a reality. Rachel believes the public market will become a cornerstone of the Madison community.

Thank you Leslie, Laura, and Rachel for being a part of such an important project!

“I just love supporting our LOCAL business owners! Hearing that the Public Market was coming to Madison was so exciting. It’s so awesome knowing I’d have the opportunity to experience a variety of local vendors in one spot! Personally, I look forward to bringing my family, knowing the quality the Madison Public Market will bring… It just feels good.” - Suzanne N. Johnson, Vice President Branch Banking, Park Bank

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