Roberta Gassman

MSSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1972; BA, Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1971

Senior Fellow

(608) 263-4574

School of Social Work Building Room 213

Professional experience: 

  • Faculty, UW-Madison Continuing Studies Wisconsin Certified Public Manager Program
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, United States Department of Labor, 2011-2013
  • Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2003-2010
  • President, Gassman Communications & Public Affairs LLC, 2001-2002
  • Senior Vice President Sales, Marketing and Community Investment, Home Savings Bank, 1997-2001
  • Top aide to Dane County Executive and Mayor of Madison, 1989-1997
  • Governor’s Policy Advisor on Employment and Women’s Issues, 1983-1987
  • Trainer and consultant in equal employment and women’s issues, 1975-1982
  • Social worker, 1972-1977


Civic experience, partial listing:

  • Member, UW-Madison School of Social Work Board of Visitors
  • Member, United Way of Dane County, Delegation to Create Economic Stability for Young Families
  • Member, Leadership Team, United Way of Dane County, HIRE Initiative
  • Member, YWCA Empowerment Society
  • Elected member, Madison Community Foundation Board of Governors
  • Elected member, Overture Center Foundation Board of Directors
  • Elected member, Edgewood College Board of Trustees
  • Former board member, National Association of State Workforce Agencies, including chair, Employment and Training Committee, and member, Audit Committee and Resolutions and Policy Committee
  • Former board member and secretary, Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Member, Paul Harris Fellow and past board member, Downtown Rotary Club of Madison
  • Member, TEMPO
  • Former commissioner, vice president, president, Madison Equal Opportunities Commission


Awards and recognitions, partial listing:

  • Elected member, National Academy of Social Insurance
  • Honored by UW-Madison School of Social Work with “2010 Distinguished Alumni Award” which included establishment of “Roberta Gassman School of Social Work Opportunities Fund” and the “Roberta Gassman Distinguished Lecture Series”
  • Honored by YWCA of Madison as a “Woman of Distinction”
  • Honored by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as one of state’s top educators
  • Honored by Women’s Educational Equity Communications Network with work selected for national publication
  • Invited to address national and state audiences on range of employment, workforce development and labor issues including testimony before congressional and legislative hearings, lectures, commencement addresses and major speeches to business, workforce, school, philanthropic, service club and economic development groups, such as: President’s Business Council; White House Symposium on Economic Recovery and Job Creation through Faith-Based Partnerships; White House Hispanic Policy Conference; White House Women and the Economy Briefing; International Labor Officers; White House Summit on Preventing Youth Violence; Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship; National Job Corps Association; National Employ Older Workers Awards Ceremony; Hurricane Sandy Relief Update Roundtable; Urban Institute; National Governors Association; Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management; National Academy of Social Insurance; United States Senate Finance Committee; National Association of State Workforce Agencies; Wisconsin Women in Government Seminars; graduation speaker, UW-Madison School of Social Work, UW-Eau Claire, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College; guest lecturer, UW-Madison School of Social Work, Political Science, La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, UW-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare; Competitive Wisconsin Board of Directors; Joyce Foundation Board of Directors; Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education; Society of Human Resources Management; Wisconsin Public Policy Forum; Business and Professional Women of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Wisconsin League of Municipalities; Wisconsin Counties Association; Wisconsin Forward Award Annual Conferences; American Society for Pubic Administration; National Association of Social Workers of Wisconsin; Association of University Women.


Macro social work, public management and planned change; community building; partnerships between federal, state and local units of government, philanthropy, education and the private sector; efficient, cost-effective, transparent government management; workforce and economic development strategies for a skilled workforce; career pathways for students and low wage workers; regional industry partnerships in emerging industry sectors including clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health care and technology; advancing diversity in the workplace; economic supports for low income families, children, under-employed and unemployed workers.