MADISON - Wisconsin State Health Secretary Kitty Rhoades, who represented western Pierce County in the State Assembly from 1999-2011, died Saturday from an undisclosed illness. She was 65 years old.
Rhoades was first elected to the State Assembly in 1998 and in the the mid-aughts served as Chairwoman of the Joint Finance Committee, the most powerful committee in the state legislature. She did not run again for re-election in 2010 (Current Assemblyman and former Hudson mayor Dean Knudson won her seat).
In 2011 she was tabbed by then Governor-elect Scott Walker to be Deputy Director of the State Health Department and then became department head in 2013, a position she's held since then.
In May 2014, Rhoades was given the 2014 Outstanding Alzheimer’s Advocate Award by the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin. She's been lauded by colleagues for her work in the legislature and as health secretary on topics such as drug abuse and Alzheimer's and dementia care.
Before her public career, the Hudson native worked in business and was head of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce.