Cathy Albro - MDP Rural Caucus Chair
As a graduate of MSU, Cathy taught elementary students and later worked with teachers to develop engaging curriculum and teaching methods. Working for the HighScope Foundation, Cathy’s work took her to many schools where she observed the huge inequities in education for children living in poverty, including many Native American reservations.
Cathy was also an entrepreneur; founding an accredited child care center and assisting businesses in opening on-site centers for their employees. Cathy also owned a “learning store” in Grand Rapids for 30 years.
Due to her life experiences and the state of our country, Cathy decided to run for Congress and was the Democratic nominee for Michigan’s 3rd District in 2018. She lost to incumbent, Justin Amash with 44% of the vote.
Cathy and her husband, Rick, live on a small farm in Bellaire in northern Michigan. Cathy is happy to continue her political career to help strengthen democracy in rural Michigan.
Rob Lyerla - MDP Rural Caucus Vice Chair & Region 12 Vice Chair
Eaton, Ingham, Calhoun, Jackson, Branch and Hillsdale
Rob is a retired CAPT (O-6) in the US Public Health Service, having served as an epidemiologist in Atlanta (CDC), Geneva (WHO) and DC (NIH, SAMHSA). He is currently on faculty at WMU and enjoys this second career. He has a PhD in Statistics and an MGIS in geographic analysis. He’s passionate about science and conservation, public health, under-served populations and the honor of public service. New to Michigan in 2018, he lives in Calhoun County, just south of Battle Creek in East Leroy, MI.
Peggy Raddatz - MDP Rural Caucus Treasurer
I have been on the Executive Board of the Manistee County Democratic Party, in some capacity, for the past 15 years. I no longer serve on the Executive Board, but remain a member of the Leadership Team.
I served this last campaign cycle as Treasurer for Beth McGill-Rizer when she ran for the Michigan 101st District seat.
My husband and I reside in rural Mason County, but associate ourselves with the City of Manistee in Manistee county. My husband, a retired school superintendent, raises heritage turkeys for his business, Bourbon Red Heritage Farms. I keep the books for him.
Brian Hoduski - Region 1 Vice Chair
Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Iron Counties
Brian Hoduski is a lifelong Democrat and has been active with the Houghton County Democratic Party since moving there from Grand Marais in 1999. He has served as co-chair of the HCDP since 2006. He learned from boyhood about rural issues helping on his Grandfather’s farm in Menominee County. He trained as a fishery biologist and geographer and has worked in conservation and museum curation since 1986. He enjoys cooking, gardening, hunting, traveling, and his grandkids.
Dixon Dudderar - Region 4 Vice Chair
Emmet, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Alpena, and Charlevoix
Dixon is a retired reporter, editor and skilled photographer, having worked at newspapers in Indiana, Texas, Wisconsin and, for over 22 years, at the Grand Rapids (MI) Press. He has a Journalism BA, and an MPA (Public & Environmental Policy), both degrees from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!). This background nurtures his interest in politics and environmental issues, and his desire to see kind and qualified people of integrity elected to public office. His background also lit his fire to advocate for more renewable energy production, especially locally and at the state level. Dixon, 68, and his wife, Julie, cherish time with the four daughters and five grandchildren in their extended family, and are avid Great Lakes sailors and outdoor enthusiasts. They live in Harbor Springs.
Paul McCarthy - Region 5 Vice Chair
Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Antrim, Kalkaska and Benzie Counties
I am honored to serve as the new Region 5 Vice Chair of the Michigan Rural Caucus. I am currently the Treasurer for the Grand Traverse County Dems.
I have a BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, and a MS in Artificial Intelligence from Wayne State University. I work full-time for Apple Inc. as a Senior Software Engineer / Computational Linguist / Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Data Scientist.
Born in Detroit, I spent as much time in northern Michigan as I could. My grandfather built a small motel by-hand on the shores of Lake Superior in the 1940s. Our family spent many holidays with friends north of Suttons Bay, where I fell in love with sailing on Grand Traverse Bay. I live in Traverse City.
I am a climate hawk, and a committed environmentalist. I have been knocking doors and hosting fund raisers for Michigan Democrats and environmental organizations since the mid-1990s.
Leif Williams - Region 6 Vice Chair
Missaukee, Otsego, Montmorency and Crawford Counties
Originally from northern Wisconsin, my family frequently visited the Alpena and Detroit areas where my parents were born and raised. In 2000, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Conservation Biology. I earned an MA in Education from Viterbo University in 2008, and in 2012 I earned an MA in Educational Leadership from Marian University. After several years in school leadership, in 2019 I decided to return to the classroom where I currently teach middle school science. 2022 marks my 20th year in public education.
I met my future husband in 2014 , and we moved to Missaukee County in 2015 in order to be closer to family. We are licensed foster parents, and in 2018 we adopted our son. I currently serve as the Chair of the Missaukee County Democratic Party. We love to spend time riding our hand-built mountain bike trails in the woods behind our house, canoeing, hunting, gardening, making maple syrup, birding, raising chickens, telling "dad" jokes, and playing with our dogs.
Trina Borenstein - Region 7 Vice Chair
Oscoda, Alcona and Iosco Counties
I worked tirelessly for George McGovern in 1972. Although it was 42 years before I could put that amount of work into a campaign again, I was never a passive observer of the political process. I have been active in the League of Women Voters since 1989, nearly always on the local board.
In 1987, I inherited a property in Alcona County, which is where I now live with my husband and two cats. We started spending as much time as we could here, planning to make this our permanent home. Twelve years ago, when 3G technology finally reached Alcona County, we made the move.
In 2014, we started becoming involved in local politics, feeling not only the usual responsibility, but that we could actually make a difference here. Since then, I have worked hard for candidates all down the ballot, as well as on several Initiatives and Proposals. Working for national, statewide, and regional candidates, it is clear to me that urban-based headquarters don’t have a clue what rural campaigns need. I am very pleased to see the Rural Caucus becoming more active, and have hopes that the message we can bring will be heard. I am proud to be able to help.
John Helge - Region 8 Vice Chair
Wexford, Mason, Lake, Oceana and Manistee Counties
I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the new Region 8 Vice Chair of the Michigan Rural Caucus. I am currently the Chair of the Manistee Dems.
I have lived in Manistee County for over 22 years. I recently retired from Nalco Water an Ecolab Company after a 40-year career leading field technical sales teams. During my first ten years in Manistee, I was responsible for our operations in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Then, during my final 12 years, I was responsible for my company’s business relationship with major clients, first in North America and then globally. I had a very fulfilling career focused on water-related challenges and environmental sustainability.
I look forward to hearing from you anytime you have a question or idea to improve our Rural Caucus.
Tim Prosch - Region 9 Vice Chair
Muskegon and Kent Counties
My name is TP and I’ve spent the better part of my life in Montague which is in White River Township which is in Muskegon County. Born and raised in Chicago, I spent all of my summers in the White Lake area, courted my wife here, my daughter had her wedding in the backyard. This place is the Heart of our Family! 3 years ago, when I retired from a career in Marketing and Advertising. My wife, Pam, and I moved here full-time. We love the Rural Life.
1. First foray into MI Politics (25 years ago)
Working with the WRT Board and DEQ (now, EGLE) to protect our dune and beach from a Developer who wanted to build a road through the dunes so he could get trucks in to erect a McMansion near the beach. We finally raised $1 million locally to buy him out.
2. Second Experience in Politics
Strategist and fund raiser for Rob Davidson, who ran for Congress a few years ago. I also did the same more recently for Brian Hostika who ran for State Rep in the (old) 91st district.
3. Currently, I’m a Board Member for ROAD (which stands for: Reviving Our American Democracy). It’s a local non-partisan collection of citizens in Muskegon County. We’ve worked closely with VNP (Voters, not Politicians) on the recent re-districting maps.
Elspeth Inglis - Region 11 Vice Chair
Barry, Ionia, Montcalm and Gratiot Counties
Elspeth is retired from her career as a history educator in classrooms and museums where she also focused her work on community collaborations. Designing museum programs and projects brought her in close partnership with marginalized communities in rural and urban areas of Southwest Michigan. Ensuring a public platform in which these communities had opportunities to tell their own stories was one of Elspeth’s most satisfying aspects of her work.
She is a “dyed-in-the-wool” Democrat, a third generation American whose grandparents experienced the hardships of war, genocide and poverty. Without the aid of U.S. government programs afforded her grandparents, and her parents’ hard work, she may not have enjoyed the opportunities for a good education, healthcare and employment that she has been fortunate to have.
Elspeth is committed to working for humanitarian, democratic and Democratic ideals that are grounded in equity and compassion for all people and for good stewardship of the earth.
Michael Fields - Region 12 Vice Chair
Clare, Gladwin, Osceola, Roscommon, Ogemaw and Arenac Counties
Michael retired from Au Gres-Sims Schools after 25 years of service as an elementary teacher. Michael spent 23 years as the local MEA chair at Au Gres and 10 years as a Coordinating Chair of District 12. Currently he is the chair of Gladwin County Democratic Party where he has been living with his wife Cathryn since 2016.
Karen Kemp - Region 14 Vice Chair
Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch
Karen started life on the family dairy farm in Mississippi, and grew up in Memphis, TN. She attended the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis and graduated with a BS in Biology/Pre-Med. She worked for the Federal Government in Diabetes Research until marriage transplanted her to Niles, MI.
Now a 46 year resident of Berrien County, except for a 3 year period when she was a hay producer in Kentucky, she raised two daughters here and started and ran SCI Alarm, a local security company, for 33 years.
She has raised, trained, and shown American Quarter Horses in NRHA and ARHA; trained and shown American Blue Tick Coon Hounds on the bench and in them field, run 3D Archery Courses, and placed in the IBO World Championship shoot.
Presently “retired” she manages 640 acres of timberland in Mississippi, and owns a local airbnb house. She is the Chair of the South County Democratic Club, a member of the Berrien County Democratic County Committee, and 6th District, and serves on Berrien County Farm Bureau's Policy Committee, and as a state delegate.
Marie Joppich - Region 16 Vice Chair
Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Clinton and Shiawassee Counties
Marie is a life-long resident of Livingston County and with her husband , Gary, Has lived in Hamburg Township for 35 years. She grew up in Livingston County where her family started a small dairy farm in the late 1950’s. Following graduation from Hartland High School in 1973, Marie went on to graduate from Oakland Community College. Continuing her education while working full time, she earned her BS at Lawrence Technology College and then obtained a Masters Degree in Information Systems at LTU.
Because of the positions she has held in various computer related businesses, Marie gained managerial as well as time management skills. Dealing with people from all over the world, taught her how to listen to what was being said or asked and to always respond with honesty and integrity.
In addition to her full time job, six years ago she started a horse training business in partnership with a trainer friend. This enabled Marie to understand the struggles of operating a small business and, especially, the importance of maintaining and adhering to a strict business plan and budget. At the same time, Marie learned the necessity of having to be flexible with both.