Mary Burke

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Mary Burke
Mary Burke.jpg
Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce
In office
February 7, 2005 – November 1, 2007
GovernorJim Doyle
Preceded byCory Nettles
Succeeded byJack Fischer
Personal details
Mary Patricia Burke

(1959-04-30) April 30, 1959 (age 60)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationGeorgetown University (BA)
London School of Economics
Harvard University (MBA)

Mary Patricia Burke (born April 30, 1959) is an American businesswoman and a member of the Madison, Wisconsin school board since April 30, 2012. She was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin in the 2014 election. Burke is a former executive at Trek Bicycle Corporation; she also served as the Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce from January 2005 to November 2007. She is the daughter of Trek Bicycle Corporation founder Richard Burke.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Burke is the second oldest of the five children of Richard Burke, founder of Trek Bicycle Corporation. She grew up in Hartland, Wisconsin.[2]

She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University, where she received a degree in business administration. She then attended Harvard Business School, where she earned a master's of business administration degree in 1985. She also attended the London School of Economics.[3][4]


Burke began her career as a consultant in New York and Washington, D.C., working for McKinsey & Company and briefly starting her own firm.[5] Burke returned to Wisconsin to work for Trek, working as head of European operations and, later, as director of strategic planning.[5] In 2005 Burke was appointed Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce by Governor Jim Doyle.[6]

She left the post on November 1, 2007 to spend more time on family interests and non-profit work, particularly the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.[5][7] In 2008 Burke led a study on the financial troubles facing Milwaukee schools.[8] In 2012, she was elected to a seat on the Madison school board[9] after spending $128,000 of her own money on her campaign.[10]

During Burke's gubernatorial campaign, two former Trek executives alleged that Burke had been forced out of her position in the European division at Trek due to financial losses and issues with her management style. Burke and her brother John, the CEO of Trek, denied the allegations. It was also later discovered that the individuals making those allegations had themselves been let go, one of whom was himself fired for "incompetence."[11][12][13][14]

After Burke left Trek, she went on a two-year break, including a four-month snowboarding trip in Argentina and Colorado. She subsequently returned to a different position at her family's company.[15][16][17][18]

2014 gubernatorial election[edit]

On October 7, 2013, Burke announced[19] her candidacy for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Governor Scott Walker in the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election. According to Politico, she had campaigned as a moderate. In August 2014, she was tied with Walker in the polls.[20]

In September 2014, Burke acknowledged that portions of her jobs plan, "Invest for Success", were copied from previous proposals by other Democratic gubernatorial candidates in other states.[21][22] The Burke campaign fired consultant Eric Schnurer, who had worked on those campaigns, for the unacknowledged copying.[23]

On November 4, 2014, Burke lost the election to Governor Walker, who won with slightly more than 52% of the vote, virtually the same as his first gubernatorial win.[24]

Political positions[edit]

Burke supports the Common Core State Standards Initiative.[25] She opposes school choice and stated that she would eliminate Wisconsin's new statewide voucher program and private school tax deduction in the next budget if elected. She has taken a firm stance against having to show an ID to vote.[26] Burke is pro-choice. She favors restoration of collective bargaining for teachers and state employees in Wisconsin and supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10.[27] Burke supports the legalization of medical marijuana and same-sex marriage.[28] Burke supports the Affordable Care Act and favors expanding it through making more people eligible for Medicaid.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Burke donated $450,000 to Road Home, a nonprofit agency serving homeless families in Dane County. She has also supported the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and Madison Prep, a charter school.[8]

Burke joined with teacher Kate Brien to found AVID/TOPS, a non-profit dedicated to help kids striving to be the first in their family to attend college. Burke began volunteering as a teen, teaching tennis in inner-city Milwaukee playgrounds.[30] In 2011 Madison Magazine named Burke one of their "People of the Year".[31] Burke has never married and has no children. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.[32]


  1. ^ Marley, Patrick (July 6, 2013). "Could former Trek executive Mary Burke unseat Scott Walker?". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  2. ^ Troller, Susan (October 6, 2011). "Q&A with Mary Burke: Making sure minority students have full chance to excel". The Capital Times. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  3. ^ Emmons, Gary. "A Commitment to Education". Harvard Business School. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  4. ^ "Mary Burke Resume" (PDF). Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Catanese, David (October 9, 2014). "Wisconsin's Amazing Race". US News and World Report. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  6. ^ "Governor Doyle Names Mary Burke Secretary of Commerce". Wisconsin Department of Commerce. February 2012. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
  7. ^ Comp, Nathan J. (October 12, 2007). "Governor Doyle Announces Secretary Mary Burke to Leave Department of Commerce". Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Comp, Nathan J. (December 22, 2011). "Philanthropist Mary Burke believes everybody deserves a chance to be successful". Isthmus. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  9. ^ Davidoff, Judith (April 4, 2012). "Achievement gap dominated Madison school board races that netted wins for Arlene Silveira, Mary Burke". Isthmus. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  10. ^ DeFour, Matthew (November 8, 2014). "Madison School Board member Burke spent $128,000 to win seat". Archived from the original on August 2, 2012.
  11. ^ "Dem candidate for Wisconsin governor denies claims she was fired from family business". Fox News. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  12. ^ Matthew DeFour. "Former Trek executive says Mary Burke was forced out in mid-1990s". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  13. ^ Jason Stein. "Ex-Trek execs with conservative ties say Mary Burke was forced out". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  14. ^ "Former Trek President and CEO Confirms Mary Burke was Fired". News/Talk 1130 WISN. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  15. ^ "Mary Burke Says She Was Not Fired By Trek". The Huffington Post. October 30, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  16. ^ Nathan J. Comp (December 22, 2011). "Philanthropist Mary Burke believes everybody deserves a chance to be successful". TheDailyPage. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  17. ^ "Dem Doubted She Wanted to Be Part of 'Full-Time Work Force'". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  18. ^ "Daniel Bice: Mary Burke scrutinized for 2-year hiatus, 'snowboarding sabbatical'". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  19. ^ Stein, Jason (October 7, 2013). "Mary Burke announces candidacy to challenge Scott Walker for governor". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  20. ^ Hohmann, James. "The woman who could beat Scott Walker". Politico. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  21. ^ Mary Spicuzza. "Mary Burke's jobs plan copied portions from other Democratic candidates". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  22. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew (September 18, 2014). "Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Fires Campaign Consultant For Large Portions Of Copied Jobs Plan". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  23. ^ "Our View - Governor's Race - Mary Burke's jobs plan and when borrowing ideas goes too far". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  24. ^ "Scott Walker bests Democrat Mary Burke in Wisconsin's tight governor's race". November 4, 2014. External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  25. ^ Kliese, Jennifer (July 19, 2014). "Burke supports sticking with Common Core in WI". WKOW ABC. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  26. ^ DeFour, Matthew (March 19, 2014). "On Politics: Mary Burke would cut statewide vouchers, private school tuition deduction". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  27. ^ Marley, Patrick (February 5, 2014). "Scott Walker, Mary Burke state positions on minimum wage, gay marriage". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  28. ^ Murphy, Bruce (October 23, 2014). "Mary Burke vs. Scott Walker: Wildly different visions for Wisconsin". Isthmus. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  29. ^ Kertscher, Tom (September 23, 2014). "Mary Burke 'supports Obamacare unequivocally' and wants to expand it, says Scott Walker". Politifact. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  30. ^ Troller, Susan (October 6, 2011). "Q&A with Mary Burke: Making sure minority students have full chance to excel". The Capital Times. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  31. ^ Nardi, Brennan. "People of the Year". Madison Magazine. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  32. ^ "Who Is Mary Burke?". Urban Milwaukee. March 18, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Barrett
Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Tony Evers