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Barbara Lawton’s work as a leader in the Doyle/Lawton Administration focused on economic development, and drove innovations in state government to better support success in a 21st century global economy. 

Former Lt. Governor Lawton, as chair of the Wisconsin Arts Board, led that agency to take a central role in fostering a strong cultural and arts industry, both as a critical business cluster in the creative economy and to animate community and regional development across the state.  With her leadership, the Wisconsin Arts Board guided the establishment of Film Wisconsin, a public/private partnership to build Wisconsin’s film and media industry and the state’s bill to create incentives for growth there.

Lawton built an unprecedented public/private/non-profit partnership to launch an economic development initiative to better harvest the talent of Wisconsin’s women.  She received national and global recognition for her work establishing Wisconsin Women = Prosperity. 

Lawton led a multi-agency project to open new opportunities for growth for disadvantaged, minority and women-owned businesses. And she chaired Wisconsin United for Mental Health, building new partnerships to improve workforce productivity by increasing access to mental health care.   

Lawton’s Task Force on Women and Depression issued an acclaimed report used by a statewide coalition she led that worked for increased access to better quality mental health care.

Lawton served on a national leadership council for the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and led Wisconsin’s pilot of the AAC&U campaign to align higher education outcomes with what students need to compete in this complex 21st century reality.  Lawton served as Vice Chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.

Former Lt. Governor Lawton was the first woman elected Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor. Lawton graduated summa cum laude from Lawrence University and earned a master’s degree in Spanish at UW-Madison.  She and her husband Cal have two children, Amanda and Joseph, both graduates of Green Bay East High School and Macalester College, and four grandchildren.  Their permanent home is near Algoma.