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, Baraga, 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.

Mari Negro - Region 2 Vice Chair

Marquette, Dickinson, Menominee, Alger, Delta, Schoolcraft, and Luce

Mari Negro has served as the Menominee County Democratic Chair since December of 2012. Prior to that she was the Menominee County party’s Treasurer for 4 years. She is currently the Region 3 Vice Chair for Michigan’s 1st Congressional District and an alternate delegate for MDP State Central.

As a life long Yooper, she has firsthand knowledge of living rural. She worked along side her husband on their small pheasant farm and often jokingly asked him: “How did your hobby become my job?!”

Negro recently retired as the publisher of her hometown paper. Her love for writing, photography and natural curiosity made this a great fit. She also holds a license as a tax assessor.

Mari enjoys cooking, camping, and taking a ride in the woods on their side by side.

Dixon Dudderar - Region 3 Vice Chair

Chippewa, Mackinac, 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.

John Helge - Region 4 Vice Chair

Leelanau, Antrim, Kalkaska, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee

I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the new Region 4 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.

Trina Borenstein - Region 5 Vice Chair

Oscoda, Alcona, Iosco

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.

Courtney Cadotte - Region 5 Vice Chair

Otsego, Montmorency, Crawford

Courtney and his family moved north to Gaylord in 2016. He became regularly involved in the Otsego County Democratic Party shortly after the 2016 election. Courtney serves as that party's corresponding secretary and on its candidate-recruitment committee.

Heidi Weipert - Region 6 Vice Chair

Wexford, Missaukee, Lake, Osceola, Mecosta, Isabella, and Montcalm

Heidi is a lifelong Michigan resident and democrat. She lives in Osceola County with her husband and two daughters. Heidi has a variety of interests including hiking, skiing, social justice activism, cooking, river conservation, gardening and arts and crafts. Heidi’s spouse, Will, is a retired lieutenant from the Muskegon Fire Department. A few years ago, Heidi and her family relocated from their home in Muskegon to their cabin and have enjoyed much time outdoors and living closer to family.

Professionally, Heidi has worked in the field of mental health for over 20 years, including her private practice. She specializes in treating clients affected by various forms of violence and trauma. She has served on a variety of boards and professional associations on both state and national levels. This has afforded Heidi the opportunity to advocate on behalf of many survivors. Heidi finds it a truly humble honor to serve people along their journey of healing.

Jacob Hilliker - Region 7 Vice Chair

Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Clare, Gladwin, Arenac, and Midland

Jacob was born and raised in Michigan. He and his wife, Rachelle live in Bay City and they have one daughter. Jacob works for the Michigan Laborers’ District Council, where he focuses on contractor negotiations and fringe benefit issues, he also owns and operates a small heating and cooling business with his family. He previously worked as a Congressional Liaison for Congressman Dan Kildee. He also serves on the board for the Henry Marsh Institute for Public Policy and is the Campaign Chair for the Bay County Democratic Party. Jacob earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Saginaw Valley State University and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Elspeth Inglis - Region 8 Vice Chair

Mason, Oceana, Newaygo, Muskegon, Ottawa, Kent and Barry

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.

Ann Lubecky - Region 10 Vice Chair

Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Lapeer, St. Clair, and Macomb

My name is Anne Lubecky and I am the daughter of Polish Immigrants that settled in the United States of America following WWII. I graduated from Wayne State University and was accepted into the Dietetic Program and became a Registered Dietitian. A few years later, I proceeded to obtain a master’s degree in Nutrition. My career involved working in hospitals and nursing homes. Eventually, I started my own business and became a contracted consultant dietitian. I am married to my wonderful husband, Walter, for 40 years. We have three children: two girls and one boy.

I am a “thumber” and as of now, I reside in a rural community called Mayville Michigan. My purpose is to change the negative politics in our region. I joined the Rural Caucus. I have met many same-minded individuals who wanted to bring progress and opportunity to the rural area in our state. Yes, I consider Michigan a “Rural State” and the Rural Caucus is important for positive changes in our state.

Karen Kemp - Region 11 Vice Chair

Allegan, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph

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 13 Vice Chair

Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee, Monroe

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.