Transforming Our State of Classrooms

Advisory Board

Portrait of Tashia F. Morgridge and John P. Morgridge

John P. Morgridge

John P. Morgridge and his wife, Tashia F. Morgridge, established the Wisconsin Technology Initiative (WTI) in December 2010 to help make 21st century instructional technology more accessible to forward-thinking school districts. John is chair of the WTI Advisory Board.

John has had a lengthy career as a business executive, an educator and a philanthropist. He is currently chair emeritus of Cisco Systems, a multinational corporation that designs and sells networking and communications technology and services. John joined Cisco in 1988 as President and CEO, and grew the company from $5 million to more than $1 billion in sales and from 34 employees to more than 2,250. In 1990, he took Cisco public; in 1995, he was appointed chair; and in November 2006, he became chair emeritus. During his tenure, Cisco became the world leader in networking for the Internet, with approximately $30 billion in annual revenues and 54,500 employees in 77 countries.

Throughout his career, John (along with his wife Tashia) has made education one of his top priorities. John and Tashia established the Morgridge Center for Public Service on the UW-Madison campus, gave $31 million to the UW-Madison School of Education to modernize and expand the Education Building, gave $50 million to a research center on the UW-Madison campus, and participated in an $85 million donation to help the UW School of Business attract and retain top faculty and staff. They also established the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS) with a $175 million gift, providing needs-based scholarships for higher education to public high school graduates.

John is on the boards of Business Executives for National Security, CARE, the Cisco Foundation, the Morgridge Institute for Research, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, the TOSA Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). John also teaches management at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and serves on its School of Business Advisory Council.

John and Tashia are both graduates of Wauwatosa High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.


Tashia F. Morgridge

Tashia F. Morgridge is co-founder of the WTI and serves on its Advisory Board. Tashia is an educator and author. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her master’s degree from Lesley University in Massachusetts, Tashia devoted her career to special education at the elementary school level. She is author of the book Award-Winning Activities for All Curriculum Areas.

Tashia’s volunteerism, philanthropy and board service have focused on children and young adults. She is former chair of the Board of Directors of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, an ex-officio member of the Board of the Morgridge Center for Public Service in Wisconsin and a member of the Board of Visitors for the UW-Madison School of Education. Tashia is on the board of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars and of the Morgridge Institute for Research. She is an active supporter of an early literacy program, Reading Recovery. Tashia also currently serves on the boards of a variety of non-profit organizations devoted to children. These include the I Have a Dream-Palo Alto organization, the Stanford New Schools Corporation and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. She is also president of the TOSA Foundation.

Tashia and John have been married for 55 years and had three children and have six grandchildren. Committed to family and recreation, the couple runs a summer camp each summer for their grandchildren. Tashia is the author of Cousins’ Camp, a story based on the summer camp. John and Tashia have bicycled across the U.S., climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and cross-country skied above the Arctic Circle.

View the Capital Times article about the Morgridges’ contributions to Wisconsin education.


Mary Gulbrandsen

As executive director of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS), Mary continues her lifelong support for public education. A pediatric nurse practitioner and highly skilled administrator, Mary has dedicated her career to benefitting children by combining her interest and expertise in medicine and education. In 2007, she retired as Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Student Services for the Madison Metropolitan School District, where she served in a variety of leadership roles for nearly 30 years. Throughout her career, she worked on long-range planning, finance and operations, and programs designed to improve student achievement. She serves on the boards of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation and the Bethel Lutheran Church Foundation. She and her husband, Carl, have three children–Lars, Ellen and Erik–and one grandchild.


Julie Underwood

As Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, Julie oversees one of the largest colleges on campus. It should be no surprise, considering education is “the family business.” When she was growing up, her father was a superintendent and her mother was a special educator who capped off her career as the director of special education in Norfolk Public Schools. Dinner conversations were mostly about teachers, curriculum, and special education. Julie’s sister is a special education teacher turned superintendent. With degrees in education, law and educational leadership, she served as faculty member of UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Administration (now Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis) from 1986 to 1995. During that period, she was a department chair , associate dean of the School of Education, and co-director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Policy at the Robert M. La Follette Institute of Public Affairs. From 1995 to 1998, she served as dean of Miami University’s School of Education and Allied Professions and from 1998 to 2005 as associate executive director and general counsel for the National School Boards Association in Washington, D.C.


Mike Kerr

As the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Technology Initiative, Mike brings the experience of both growing up as the eldest of five children in a high school teacher’s family, as well as being a ten-year veteran of Cisco Systems here in Wisconsin. Mike’s father Don was a long time educator in the Merrill Area Public Schools district, both teaching and coaching at the secondary school levels. His career at Cisco has included five management-level positions in both the Channel Partner and Commercial Sales organizations. Mike has his undergraduate degree from Luther College and a master’s degree from The United States Sports Academy. He and his wife Denise reside in Sun Prairie, WI. and have two sons – Travis and Tyler.