Where Are They Now?

Thirty-five local icons and how they made history

(page 4 of 6)

Ellen Foley

October 2004

From her first years here in town, teaching in the emerging UW–Madison Women’s Studies program in the late 1970s, Ellen Foley blazed her own path. After Madison, a journalism career took her to, among others, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Philadelphia Daily News before landing her back here as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in 2004. Foley stepped down in 2008 and subsequently served as the executive lead for Madison College’s successful $134 million referendum in 2011. Today she runs the Foley Media Group and writes a column for channel3000.com.

Robert Pierce

October 2009

Growing up in Madison, Robert Pierce never imagined he would someday become a farmer. Yet a farmer he has been, growing organic vegetables and fruit and founding Half the 40 Acres farm in the 1980s. Today, he is busier than ever. He’s involved with the Program for Entrepreneurial Agricultural Training, which teaches youth how to grow their own food. And after farming for nearly thirty years, Pierce is also the manager of the South Madison Farmers’ Market and the Madison director of the renowned urban agriculture program Growing Power, headquartered in Milwaukee.

Ricardo Gonzalez

December 1992, July 1994, June 2000

Ricardo Gonzalez first graced our pages in 1992 as part of a series that revisited folks featured in Doug Edmunds’ “Citizen” photo shoot. A leader in the Hispanic community, Gonzalez long has been active in politics and public affairs—he served on the Madison Common Council for three terms, from ’89 to ’95. He just wrapped up his time as president of the Madison/Camaguey, Cuba, Sister City Association and says he is continually working on improving U.S./Cuba relations. “I want a new policy that eliminates the embargo against Cuba.” Gonzalez is also improving Madison, volunteering with local efforts such as Centro Hispano and “the occasional political campaign.” But the man is far from all work and no play; he’s equally known for his ownership of the happening Cardinal Bar downtown. Gonzalez sold the establishment to employees in 2004 but took it back over in 2009. Future plans for the club include a Cuban-style café, which he plans to introduce in late spring.

Bill McCoshen 

November 1992, March 1995, December 1999

At twenty-nine, Bill McCoshen became the youngest cabinet secretary in the history of Wisconsin government when he was appointed by then-governor Tommy Thompson to head the Department of Commerce in 1994. Now a lobbyist and managing partner of Capitol Consulting, McCoshen is also co-founder of a polling firm, Capitol Opinion, and has an interest in the Janesville Jets junior hockey team. Routinely described as “a top Republican” in the press, McCoshen continues to regularly aggravate Democrats as one of the GOP’s most effective and influential advisors.

Martha Michelson 

July 2010

Martha Michelson was one of three partners who opened a fun little shop called bop just off State Street in 1999. The plan was to retail designer denim, and it was a good plan—the store was a solid success. Then they took bop online, as shopbop.com, and the whole shebang skyrocketed. Amazon bought them out in 2006 and wisely kept Michelson as creative director until she retired and moved to Bloomington, Indiana, in 2011. That same year the company moved into artsy, renovated warehouse space on East Washington Avenue, which may help Madison anchor new development in that neighborhood. Thank you, Martha!

David Couper

October 1982 (cover), December 1992, July 1993, May 2012

When David Couper arrived here to head up the city’s police department in 1972, Madison was still reeling from the 1971 bombing of Sterling Hall and years of violent confrontations between antiwar protesters and law enforcement. Over the next twenty-one years, Couper’s innovative and holistic approach to community policing transformed the department and ultimately turned Madison into one of the most respected police jurisdictions in the nation. Editorial director Neil Heinen devoted his column to Couper in last year’s May issue of Madison Magazine, so we’ll just note that Couper is now an Episcopal priest and author of a new book, Arrested Development, which may accomplish nothing less than transforming every police department in every city in the world.  

Britt and Tawn Larsen

January 1988

The Larsen twins grew up as waterskiing phenoms in Madison and then skied year-round at Rollins College in Florida. Then they became water-skiing legends—both are in the American and International Waterski halls of fame. Britt now lives in Canada with her husband and two daughers; Tawn is in Connecticut with her husband and five children—including two sets of twins.


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