Donna has been representing people in Central Wisconsin for over 25 years as they battle some of the most traumatic and emotional legal challenges a person can face: divorce and family law disputes, personal injury, and being a defendant in a criminal case. For the past several years, Donna’s practice has been almost exclusively devoted to family law, including divorce, paternity actions, child custody and placement disputes, property division, child support, and maintenance.
Donna’s approach to legal advocacy is listening, counseling, and preparing: listening to her clients to identify their legal concerns and desired outcomes, counseling her clients to establish realistic goals and expectations, and preparing by gathering the necessary facts and reviewing and researching the applicable law to negotiate or litigate the best results possible for her clients. From the first client meeting, Donna is preparing for trial because she has learned that this is one of the most effective ways to reach a favorable settlement. If settlement negotiations fail, Donna has decades of litigation experience that has made her a tough and formidable trial attorney.
Donna does not just represent adult parties; she is also a passionate advocate for children, in her personal as well as her professional life. Donna has been a legal advocate for children in juvenile and children’s court and has frequently been appointed by Judges and Court Commissioners in Portage County to act as Guardian ad Litem to represent the best interests of minor children who are involved in family law disputes.
Donna also serves as a mediator for parties who jointly retain her to help them mediate mutually acceptable agreements to resolve their family law disputes. Regardless if she is a mediator, a parent’s advocate attorney, or a Guardian ad Litem representing the best interests of children, Donna is always mindful of the importance of minimizing the emotional cost that is inherent in her practice areas.
Donna is proud to be a member of the legal profession and is grateful for the clients who entrust her to represent them in legal matters that can impact some of the most important aspects of their lives such as their children, and their present and future financial security. Donna is one of approximately thirty Wisconsin family law attorney fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). As stated on the AAML website, “to be represented by a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is to be represented by a leading practitioner in the field of family law. . . . Fellows across the United States are generally recognized by judges and attorneys as preeminent family law practitioners with a high level of knowledge, skill and integrity. Academy Fellows enjoy a reputation for professionalism, competence and integrity.”
Donna currently serves as a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Family Law Section Board. As a board member, Donna is chair of the annual Family Law Workshop in Door County and the section’s communications committee. She is also an active member of the Board’s legislative committee and diversity and inclusion committee. Donna has presented at State Bar continuing education programs on family law. Additionally, Donna is active in the local bar association, having served as president in 2010. Donna is the local attorney representative to the Portage County Courthouse Facilities and Security Committee and recently joined Portage County’s family law stakeholder committee.
On a personal level, Donna has been married to Brian, her high school sweetheart, for 30 years. Donna and Brian have two adult daughters, Emily and Kathryn. Emily and her husband, Nate, live in Madison. In May 2020, Emily joined Donna as a member of the legal profession. Kathryn is finishing her last year of her undergraduate studies at Gustavus Adolphus College where she will graduate in May 2021 with a BA in history and a double minor in dance and Scandinavian studies.
Donna and Brian are active members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Plover, and both she and Brian volunteer with a variety of non-profit organizations. In her spare time Donna likes to listen to podcasts, watch TED talks, read (mostly non-fiction) and, as of recently, is obsessed with watching videos on YouTube. Donna and her husband have three adopted rescue dogs, took up photography as a joint “empty nest” hobby, and they enjoy travel, cooking and entertaining.