Kay Nolan



Independent Political and Business Reporter, Breaking News Reporter

August 2009 to present

I cover both breaking news and in-depth political, business, diversity and climate stories, providing objective, probing and intelligent reporting. My news reporting has appeared in national publications, including the Christian Science Monitor, The New York TimesCQ Researcher The Washington Post, INSIGHT Into Diversity, Diversity IS and Quill. I am a regular contributor to The Washington Post’s climate and environment team. I cover politics and breaking news for The New York Times, including writing weekly “Dispatch from a Battleground State” features for The New York Times in 2020. I was a regular reporter for the highly regarded Madison, Wis.-based online political news service, and its sister site,  In addition to reporting on deadline, often scooping other major media, I contributed photo galleries, audio files and video clips.

  • In 2023, received the Award for Distinguished Science Journalism in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences from the American Meteorological Society “for vital, in-depth reporting on language barriers, translation challenges, and dialect nuances that experts experience when providing crucial, life-saving weather information to Spanish-speaking communities.”  The award-winning stories were for freelance contributions to The Washington Post climate and environment team.
  • In 2023, broke an important global story about the potential for low-earth-orbit satellite constellations to harm the ozone layer.  My story in The Washington Post was the first mainstream news outlet to report this vital story, which also included news about the FCC’s new plans to create a space bureau.
  • Did highly researched long-form reports on the nation’s foster care crisis and domestic poverty for the award-winning CQ Researcher (formerly
    Congressional Quarterly),
     including an overview of the 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act, how the opioid crisis and the influx of refugee and migrant children are straining the foster care system and new medical research on the effects of childhood trauma.
  • Covered 2020 coronavirus pandemic-related news stories for The New York Times, including gatherings of protesters and business uncertainty.
  • Contributed to 2020 presidential election coverage for The New York Times with reporting from the battleground state of Wisconsin.
  • Provided breaking news coverage of a mass shooting in 2020 at a Milwaukee brewery for The New York Times.
  • Covered 2017 police shooting trial in Milwaukee for The New York Times, including Page 1 story.
  • Covered 2016 race riots in Milwaukee over three days for The New York Times.
  • Covered 2016 presidential election events in Wisconsin for The New York Times, The Washington Post and
  • Explored the perceived GOP “war on women” in a story that was the second most-read piece on the Christian Science Monitor’s website that day and which generated more than 100 “shares.”
  • Extensively covered the contentious political career of Scott Walker, from his 2010 run for governor, the subsequent political uproar at the state Capitol and flood of recall elections in 2011 and 2012, two John Doe investigations into secret email systems and illegal campaign activity by Walker staff, Walker’s re-election in 2014 and failed presidential run in 2015.
  • Covered Gov. Scott Walker’s exit from the 2016 presidential race for The New York Times.
  • Covered reaction to Mitt Romney’s nomination of Paul Ryan as his 2012 presidential running mate for the New York Daily News.
  • Was first reporter to investigate and expose that a proposed northern Wisconsin strip mine would not increase jobs at Milwaukee mining equipment manufacturers, as purported by mine proponents, in an exclusive for
  • Broke news story of Wisconsin’s covert efforts to halt federally funded women’s breast cancer and MS screening programs statewide.  Story was picked up by the Huffington Post and other media; Walker administration postponed action following the news coverage.
  • Performed data analysis to report that Milwaukee’s heavily subsidized Bradley Technical and Trade High School had fallen to dead last among state public schools in academics, truancy and drop-out rates, in a groundbreaking story for Milwaukee Magazine.  Thoroughly reported story despite intense resistance from Milwaukee Public Schools.
  • Twice named a finalist for the Boston Globe Spotlight Investigative Fellowship, in 2017 and 2018.


Reporter/Stringer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

March 2002 to November 2009

Covered government and education on deadline in more than 40 communities and 14 school districts throughout Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, for Pulitzer Prize-winning metro daily. Alerted editors to breaking news and follow-up stories, and generated enterprise stories for Page 1 of the Metro News section, as well as Page 1 stories for the Sunday Real Estate section.

  • Broke story on astounding lack of accessibility at polling places in Milwaukee; story led to action by the city; drew mail from as far away as South Dakota.
  • Discovered and reported on movement to ban phosphorus fertilizer in Wisconsin; story led to editorial, follow-up coverage.
  • Was first reporter to reveal that a local school district holding the then-largest voter referendum in state history intended to double the size of its two high schools, not just rebuild the existing space, as purported.  Story led to heightened public dialog; building project ultimately was scaled back.
  • Observed trend of new bank construction in key commercial corridors despite economic and banking crisis, leading to compelling Page 1B story with graphics.

Multi-platform Copy Editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

April 2005 to October 2009, April 2011 to October 2011, March 2013 to September 2013

As part of the universal copy desk, I edited national, local and business stories on deadline, including opinion columns, fine arts reviews, news briefs, and special projects/series/investigative pieces. I wrote and edited headlines, copy accompanying graphics and photos, skyboxes and other display type for both print and online.

  • Saved the Journal Sentinel from a potentially libelous, crucial error in a front-page top story literally moments before press run.
  • Received four Newsroom Quarterly Awards for headlines and editing; named to copy desk chief’s Catch of the Week” 58 times, and won the top recognition 10 times.
  • Personally chosen to make crucial edits and suggestions for award-winning packages on child abuse, health care breakthroughs and bank scandals.
  • Got a story reworked to avoid racist overtones; proved crucial the next day when police provided new and different information and the story pervaded talk radio and blogs.
  • Earned unsolicited memos of praise from reporters for catching errors and polishing copy.
  • Wrote and produced Journal Sentinel Delivered, a daily news podcast

Assistant Managing Editor/Copy Editor, The Janesville Gazette


I edited stories by 13 staff reporters, as well as a number of correspondents, at this 24,000 circulation daily, which was named one of Ten That Do It Right” by Editor & Publisher in 2003. I edited several stories for Page 1A and Page 1B on deadline every day, while simultaneously writing headlines and designing the pages.  I worked with the reporters to develop story ideas and content and with the editors to develop budgets and determine page placement and accompanying art.  As a regular weekend night editor, was responsible for the entire local section for the Saturday and Sunday morning editions — assigning and editing stories by weekend reporters, and designing pages.

  • Restored daily copy editing of all stories — without missing deadlines — in newsroom struggling to adapt to newly adapted electronic page design and publishing system.
  • Successfully handled late-breaking murder story coverage which required fast redesign of front page and inside jump page during a short-staffed weekend – without missing deadline.

Assistant News Editor/Copy Editor, Waukesha Freeman


I prepared daily and weekly budgets and assigned reporters as needed at this daily, named best overall newspaper in its circulation category by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.  Edited copy and wrote headlines for each day’s paper, including multiple local stories on deadline.  Sorted and edited wire stories as needed.  Paginated at least one full page per day.  Edited the opinion page each week. Continued to cover news and write stories each week, as well as my weekly column. Coordinated special sections from start to finish, developing theme and assigning stories and photos. Examples: “A Day in the Life in Waukesha County,” “Waukesha County Fair.”

Staff Reporter, Waukesha Freeman


Covered breaking news, crime, business, elections, education, health and medical, local government, real estate, lifestyle, religion, and entertainment.  Became known for constant flow of story leads and ideas.  Sole weekend reporter/editor for years, trusted to handle newsroom and cover breaking news.

  • Was only reporter among statewide media to achieve interview with hostage in Waukesha County’s infamous Oswald shooting case; later, during the trial coverage, was the first and one of the only reporters to gain an interview with James Oswald’s ex-wife.
  • Wrote special series on topics ranging from Superfund landfill sites to new construction.
  • Handled health and medical beat, including producing weekly section front.
  • Produced weekly section fronts for Real Estate and Lifestyle sections.
  • Wrote popular “What’s Hot, What’s Not.” column on new products and trends, which ran weekly for 7 years, generated reader mail and was picked up by other Thomson papers.
  • Received award from the American Cancer Society for skin cancer package.
  • Received award from the Alliance for the Mentally Ill for news coverage.


Copy editor, RK Communications, Los Angeles, Calif. 


Provide copy editing and rewriting suggestions for Los Angeles-based company that offers resume writing, business coaching and website services for Japanese and Japanese-American business professionals. I help polish communications that are translated from Japanese to English, to ensure clarity and accuracy.  In addition, RK Communications assists scientists and engineers who are applying for U.S. patents to effectively translate their patent applications and correspondence from Japanese to English.  I assist in copy editing and proofing these highly technical documents.

Freelance writer, Points of Light Institute, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, GA. 


Provide research, interviewing and writing of stories featuring Daily Points of Light award-winners for Points of Light online website.

Researcher, writer for L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Recognition Program judging teams. This involves interviewing Women of Worth finalists, researching their volunteer work and relevant community/background data, as well as interviewing several people affected by each candidate’s work. Successfully completed this assignment for U.S.A. Women of Worth programs in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as the first annual Women of Worth Canada recognition program in 2017.

Book editor

2016: “101 Mindful Arts-Based Activities to Get Children and Adolescents Talking: Working with Severe Trauma, Abuse and Neglect Using Found and Everyday Objects”

by Dawn D. D’Amico, PhD, LCSW; 2016, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. Helped Dr. D’Amico turn a thick file of loose notes, gathered throughout many years of practice, into a cohesive, informative book that is earning positive reviews on Amazon. The book is written for clinical psychologists, school professionals, social workers, law enforcement, legal personnel and parents – all of whom work with severely traumatized children and adolescents. The book needed to be clear and easy to use by all.

Editor, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin & Metropolitan Chicago, Inc.


Wrote, edited, and coordinated production of Update newsletter for more than 2,000 employees, and Working Together, a quarterly publication with an external distribution of more than 20,000; as well as the Goodwill Annual Report, the organization’s showpiece educational publication.  Produced highly compelling stories, often overcoming interview challenges, such as blind, deaf or non-English-speaking subjects. Coordinated professional photo shoots in Chicago and Milwaukee; supervised printing, production, distribution; managed financial budget.

  • Earned 2001 PRSA Award of Excellence for Goodwill Industries Annual Report.
  • Earned multiple APEX Awards for Publication Excellence for Working Together, Update and the Goodwill Annual Report. 
  • Significantly increased production while dramatically slashing costs — 2001 annual report was produced for 30% less cost than 1998 piece done by my predecessor, yet 40% more copies were printed and 97% more were mailed, reaching greater audience. Postage costs for Update were reduced by 71%; from $968 to $280 per month. I eliminated an estimated $19,000 per year in publication costs in previously outsourced writing, photography, photo scanning and graphic design.
  • In my first 16 months as editor, I published more than twice as many issues of Update than in all of 1998, tripled the number of articles and pages and added photos, yet saved costs.
  • Met annual report deadline for January stockholders meeting each year I was editor.  (Previous annual reports had been finished no earlier than April and as late as August.)
  • Produced 4-color special daily newsletter for attendees of Goodwill International’s weeklong Centennial celebration in Milwaukee, while simultaneously hosting events.

Editor, Internal Publications, Medical College of Wisconsin


Wrote and edited World, a weekly publication for the faculty and staff of the Medical College of Wisconsin.  Redesigned the publication to expand and improve content and enhance readability. Created regular features on health care trends, scientific research, staff achievements, HR updates, IT advancements and capital building projects.  Wrote, edited and managed both print and electronic production of Focus, a biweekly scope-of-practice newsletter for the Clinical Practice Group of the college and its teaching hospital and affiliated practice sites.  Redesigned the publication to offer succinct, bullet-point news on risk management, managed care, Medicare, compliance, government regulations, capitation and other health industry business issues.

  • Persuaded top management to allow me to reinvent Focus from a monthly magazine into the first electronic publication on campus.  Broke new ground by covering CPG Board of Directors meetings, previously not open to non-physicians.  At Dean’s request, produced special editions of Focus to cover breaking news.
  • Helped coordinate online version of World, for college’s newly developed intranet site.
  • Created immensely popular feature, “Site Scene,” which reported weekly on the progress of a 2-year construction project on campus, explaining engineering terms and processes.
  • Restored timely production to World and Focus.  During my 3-year tenure as editor, they never missed a deadline or skipped an issue.

Managing Editor, The Wisconsin CPA


Wrote and edited magazine published by the Wisconsin Institute of Public Accountants.  Combined a quarterly magazine and two monthly newsletters into a single, monthly publication with a new design and improved content — more relevant, less promotional, with a focus on local and national business news. Edited copy by contributing writers; coordinated and supervised printing; served as liaison to various WICPA committees, assisting members and preparing materials for meetings and events.


Journalism/Mass Communications — Honors Program, with majority of studies at Marquette University and completed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


  • 2023: “Generative AI for Journalists” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2023: “How to use ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in your newsrooms” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2023: “Explain This! How Explanatory Journalism Informs and Engages Audiences” — Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2022: “How to Cover the Climate Crisis — And Fight Disinformation” — Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2020: “Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the Future” — Knight Center
  • 2020: “Investigative Reporting in the Digital Age” – Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2019: “Navigating Misinformation: How to Trust and Verify What You See on the Web” — Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2018: “Trust and Verification in an Age of Misinformation” — Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
  • 2017: “Data Exploration and Storytelling: Finding Stories in Data with Exploratory Analysis and Visualization” — Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.


Digital reporting and photography. Video and audio editing. Social media fluency; Web design/coding.  HTML, CSS, Clickability, Quark Xpress (both PC and Mac), Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Audition, Sony Sound Forge, Magix Movie Edit, newsroom publishing systems, including Newsgate, CCI, ATS, Crosfield, etc.  Dean Vaughn course in medical terminology. Thorough knowledge of AP style.