Executive Leadership Team

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Daniel J. Zimmerman, Secretary


The Secretary works closely with the Governor’s office, other heads of Wisconsin State agencies, the regional directors of the United States Department of Ve​​terans Affairs and state and federal legislators to ensure the department’s overall mission and goals provide value to the veterans living in the State of Wisconsin. The Secretary oversees the operation of three veterans homes that provide long term care, three veterans cemeteries, a claims assistance center, and many other programs and services for our state’s veterans.​

​​​Secretary Bio

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Tom Rhatican, Deputy Secretary​


The Deputy Secretary serves as a surrogate for the Secretary and is responsible for the day-to-day internal operations of the department, including the department’s budget, resolution of all critical issues and oversight of major contracts.​

​​​Deputy Secretary Bio


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Kathy Still, Asst Deputy Secretary


The Assistant Deputy Secretary serves the Secretary and is the primary contact for inter-governmental agency functions. The Assistant Deputy Secretary also serves as the agency legislative liaison.​

​Assistant Deputy Secretary Bio


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Chad Koplien is the chief legal counsel for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. Koplien manages the Office of Legal Counsel and works closely with executive leadership in managing the Department, its Museum and Veterans Homes. He previously served as the administrator and top prosecutor of the enforcement division of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and in the private sector focusing on business litigation.

Koplien is a Veteran with over 15 years of military experience. He currently serves as an officer in the Wisconsin National Guard and is assigned as the command judge advocate for the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. He previously served as a staff judge advocate for both the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 64th Troop Command, and on active duty as an enlisted Airman in the U.S. Air Force, 820th RED HORSE Squadron.

Koplien is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with bachelors degrees in political science and public administration. He earned his law degree from Marquette University and graduated from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate's Legal Center and School with distinction. He has had specialized advanced training in a variety of military and government legal and management support functions. He brings more than 20 years of legal experience in both the private and public sectors.

He is a member of the Wisconsin National Guard Association and the Wisconsin State Bar Association, and resides in Waunakee with his wife and two daughters.
Vigue.jpgCarla Vigue serves as the Communications Director for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. She manages the Office of Public Affairs and oversees communications and public relations efforts to enhance the visibility of the Department’s programs, services and benefits. She also manages media relations for the agency.

Prior to joining the Department of Veterans Affairs, Carla was Communications Director for the Wisconsin Department of Administration where she was responsible for developing and implementing communications strategies for proactive outreach and crisis communications, as well as responding to day-to-day media inquiries. Carla has also served as the Communications Director and Spokeswoman for Governor Doyle and worked in the Secretary’s Office on communications and public relations at the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Prior to her work in Wisconsin, she worked in Washington, D.C. in the areas of federal relations and media and public relations.

She holds a Master of Arts from Loyola University in Chicago.

A native of Oneida, Wisconsin, Carla lives in Madison with her husband Brian.​
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James A. Parker serves as the Administrator of the Division of Enterprise Services. The Division provides administrative support to the department. It  consists of four Bureaus; the Bureau of Fiscal Services, the Bureau of Budget and Facilities, the Bureau of Information Technology and the Bureau of Human Resources. Its responsibilities include, but are not limited to; development, monitoring and managing of the department’s annual, biennial and capital budgets, fiscal services, internal control, internal/external audit services, risk management, purchasing, policy and strategic planning, bonding and statistical analysis, information technology and support, human resources, fleet management and  the Continuity of Operations and Continuation of Government Plans.

Prior to employment with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, James was an Executive Manager in the private sector and later became an entrepreneur.  He has 21 years of state service with several state agencies (DWD, former DHFS, DOR and DSPS) and the University of Wisconsin.  His positions were responsible for budget, finance, human resources, policy and information technology. He has performed in multiple Division Administrator roles and Director of Finance and Budget roles.

James received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  

Bond.jpgJames Bond serves as Division Administrator of the Division of Veterans Benefits. He oversees the Bureau of Veterans Benefits and the Bureau of Cemeteries and Memorial Services.

James formerly was the Division Administrator for the WDVA Division of Veterans Services and oversaw the WDVA programs and services.

Prior to employment with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, James was employed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development as Deputy Division Administrator in the Divisions of Employment and Training and Family Supports, and as Bureau Director of Management Services, in the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

James received his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1983 through 1988 with assignments at home and abroad.

James lives in Madison with his husband, Todd Crouch.  They have one son.
Nitschke.jpgRandall M. Nitschke serves as the Division Administrator of the Division of Veterans Homes. Nitschke previously served as the second Commandant of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove. Prior to that Nitschke served as the Executive Director of Mt. Carmel Medical and Rehabilitation Center. He has a total of over 20 years healthcare experience in both the private and government sectors.

Nitschke served in the United States Navy from 1971–1976. In 1971–1972 he served in Gulf of Tonkin, and from 1972–1976 he served in the U.S. Naval Submarine Service.

After Nitschke’s military service he completed his B.A. in General Studies from UW–Milwaukee and his M.Ed. from the College of William and Mary. He has been active in community affairs and service organizations including being a member of the American Legion and VFW.
Ken Grant serves as Division Administrator of the Division of Veterans Services. He oversees the Division's services which include the Milwaukee Claims Office, State Approving Agency, Outreach Section and the Veterans Homeless Program.

Ken previously served as the Division Administrator for the WDVA Division of Administration.

Previous state service for Ken included three years employed with the Department of Workforce Development as the Program Director for the Veterans Employment Program also known as the DVOP/LVER Program and eight years with WDVA as a Bureau Director in the program areas of Veterans Cemeteries, Military Funeral Honors and Veterans Homeless.

Ken is a retired Army veteran who enlisted as a private and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with 25 years of military service. His service includes serving as a helicopter crew chief on Huey Helicopters, various infantry, ordinance, recruiting and personnel leadership assignments in Europe and while serving with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and numerous other military management and leadership schools.

Ken received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mount Senario College, Ladysmith and his Masters Degree in Business Administration from Touro University. He has one grown daughter and resides in Waunakee with his wife Mitzi.
Telzrow1.jpgMichael Telzrow serves as the Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and earned a master’s degree in public history/museum studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. From 1995-1997, he served as a curatorial associate at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Subsequent museum assignments included the Neville Public Museum of Brown County, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, and the National Railroad Museum. He has developed over 20 museum exhibits covering a wide range of subject matter and authored a photographic history of the Wisconsin State Reformatory. 


In 2008, he was named an “everyday hero” by the Green Bay Press Gazette for his public service, and was honored by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce as one of 20 local individuals who have made significant impacts in their respective professions. Telzrow is an eight-year veteran of the United States Coast Guard. ​
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