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John Eich


John joined the Office of Rural Health in 2005 as a Program Manager of the Rural Community Initiatives, and was appointed Director in 2006. His experience and skills are primarily in community development, program planning, systems analysis and design.

John came to the Office of Rural Health from southern New Mexico, where he directed a county Health Council—a public/private partnership that assessed community health and wellness needs, established priorities, then built and maintained coalitions to strategically plan and implement projects. They also served as a resource to and advocate for the county on a regional and statewide basis.

John grew up in rural Wisconsin, dividing his spare time between doing chores and hiding from them with a good book.

Penny Black

Penny Black

Data and Evaluation Program Manager

Penny has over 15 years of experience in public health program evaluation. She has worked at city, county, and state levels, domestically and abroad. Penny is responsible for assessing, analyzing, and reporting rural health data; tracking the effectiveness of the Office’s programming and collaborative projects; and overseeing graduate student interns.

Penny has a Master’s Degree in Health Science from California State University, Long Beach and a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science from California State University, Fullerton.

Kevin Jacobson

Loan Assistance Program Manager

Kevin began working for the Office of Rural Health in April 2007. His program management responsibilities include the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program, the Strong Rural Communities Initiative and the Rural Health Development Council.  Kevin also publishes a blog, Rural Community Development, where he posts information on opportunities and resources to improve capacity in rural communities, specifically around health care issues.

Before he relocated to Madison, Kevin was a Program Manager with the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center, where he worked with rural communities in New York on a variety of environmental, public health and community development issues. Prior to that he was Payroll Manager of the University of California, Los Angeles Student Association.

Kevin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration from UCLA and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Southern California.

Kathryn Miller

Kathryn Miller

Rural Hospitals & Clinics Program Manager

Kathryn started in September 2008, as the Rural Hospitals/Clinics Program Manager.

Kathryn was born and raised in Madison.  Prior to coming to the Office, Kathryn was employed at Human Services in rural Green County.  Working at the Office of Rural Health truly represents the best of both worlds: being able to continue her work with rural populations and rural healthcare issues, while working in her favorite city, Madison.

Kathryn graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with majors in Psychology and Social Welfare.

Tim Dybevik

Provider Recruitment Manager

Tim manages provider recruitment at the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. He previously recruited physicians with Dean Health System in Wisconsin (now part of SSM), and worked for many years in sales for the pharmaceutical and mass media industries.

Elizabeth DiNovella

Communications Coordinator

Elizabeth DiNovella writes the Rural Reporter newsletter, manages our social media and digital communications, and produces other materials for our office.

Liz is a digital journalist with twenty years’ experience reporting for national magazines, radio, the web, and on social media. Most recently, Liz was the producer of Surgery Sett, a podcast hosted by Dr. Jonathan Kohler at the Department of Surgery at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Liz enjoys writing about arts and music, along with science and medicine. In 2017, the Milwaukee Press Club awarded her piece, “Vern Stenman of Big Top Has Big Ideas for Breese Stevens Field” a prize for Best Long Form Feature Story in the radio category. The Onion described her work as “passionate, intelligent commentary.”

She graduated from UW Madison with degrees in History and Spanish. She enjoys reading and learning to ride horses with her daughter.

Ann Thornburg


Ms. Ann Thornburg joined the Office of Rural Health in 2021.  She is responsible for managing the SORH office and financial functions, with oversight from the Director.  Her diverse operational and finance background makes her an instrumental team member of the Rural Health’s office, especially since she is the bridge between our office and numerous university departments that require operational updates and we depend upon to function as an organization.

Thornburg has worked in the university system since 2008 in financial administration and grant management areas. She previously operated her family company for over 20 years and worked within the WI Circuit Courts for approximately 7 years. Ms. Thornburg was born and raised in a small rural farming community in southern Wisconsin. She now resides in Madison with her family and enjoys walking with her beloved dog.

James Small

James Small

Rural EMS Outreach Manager

James grew up on Washington Island and has spent his entire adult life in working in public safety since becoming a first responder in 1993. James has nearly 10 years of experience as a Public Safety Director and has served two municipalities as Police Chief and Fire Chief.  He holds certification as a Paramedic, Law Enforcement Officer, and Fire Officer II.

James enjoys working with organizations and helping them develop strategies that improve street level service delivery to citizens. James has experience consulting on personnel matters such as employee selection, workplace culture, and employee discipline.  His workplace culture training program, “It’s your ISLAND” has been popular at conferences throughout the United States.

James is a lifelong learner holding a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Carroll College, Master of Justice Administration from Norwich University, and Certified Public Manager at the University of Wisconsin.  He teaches as an adjunct faculty member of two colleges in Southern Wisconsin.

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