When Analiese Eicher was 10 years old, her mom took her to Marshall Middle School for a rally supporting Tammy Baldwin, who in 1998 was running to be the first woman from Wisconsin elected to Congress.
Baldwin had been in the state Assembly and was then running for a House of Representatives seat. She held the Janesville event with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, Eicher remembered.
It was a moment for the young Janesville native to see that women could be involved in politics.
“For a 10-year-old girl who was super into playing boy-dominated sports like soccer and basketball … it was a pretty, pretty big thing for me to have that experience,” Eicher told The Gazette last week.
“And I think that was really the big change for me in thinking like, ‘Oh, politics could totally be a thing.’”
It was Eicher’s first major political memory.
Her latest notable moment in the field came Wednesday, when One Wisconsin Now announced she would be taking over as the liberal group’s executive director. Her first official day in the position was Friday.
She lives in Sun Prairie with her boyfriend and their 5-year-old black Labrador (named Bernie after the Milwaukee Brewers mascot), and her work involves a lot of time in Madison. She is also on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.
But Eicher, 30, connected her progressive beliefs to some of her early moments growing up in Janesville schools with parents who worked in the district. Her father, a science teacher at Parker High School, taught her AP Biology, and her mother was a school psychologist.
They are both retired now, she said.
Her praise extended to her other teachers. She said they “very much shaped” who she is and what she has done.
“I love that I’m from Janesville,” she said. “I love being from Janesville. It was an incredible place to grow up.”
Eicher graduated from Parker High School in 2006. She went on to study at UW-Madison.
Her post-high-school path was not linear, however. She said in 2011 then-Gov. Scott Walker’s legislative efforts on public unions “interrupted” her education, so she wanted to fight more for regular people.
Two of her priorities for One Wisconsin Now that came up most during an interview were tackling student debt and ensuring voting rights.
Her work with a statewide student group eventually connected her with Scot Ross, her predecessor in the executive director position. Ross left for work in the private sector.
“We’re excited to have Analiese as our new Executive Director and look forward to more of One Wisconsin’s tireless advocacy on critical issues and their fearlessness holding powerful politicians and the right wing accountable,” the board chairs of One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute said in the release.
Eicher explained how the two affiliated, nonprofit organizations are different: One Wisconsin Now, a 501(c)(4), focuses more on communication, and One Wisconsin Institute, a 501(c)(3), has more emphasis on education and research.
She is “incredibly proud” of the group’s progressive ideals and said she does not think the group’s political lean hurts its credibility when it comes to publishing findings, which includes Walker’s use of planes to travel the state.
“Folks can think what they want, but at the end of the day we’re doing this so that everyone in Wisconsin has equal opportunity and equal economic opportunity at that, as well,” she said.
Another Janesville moment that shaped who Eicher became happened while she was working at Riverside Golf Course—which included the time when Janesville’s General Motors facility closed. She saw the impact on families who would come to the public course and play every week, she said.
It is why, she said, she is “committed to working folks and to regular people and to ideals and policies that benefit regular folks.”
“That was a huge influence on me,” she said.