Kelli Thompson, photographed by Kayla Wolf, State Journal

Kelli Thompson, the first woman to serve as head of Wisconsin’s public defender network and a cancer survivor of seven years, will speak Thursday, Sept. 28 at the annual W•O•M•E•N reception in Madison.

Thompson oversees an $133-million-per-year agency that provides legal representation to Wisconsin’s indigent in criminal cases, relying on its own staff as well as appointed private attorneys. It handles a caseload that ranges from misdemeanors to homicides to appeals. She has announced she will step down in early October.

Attorney Thompson will talk about her tenure at the office, challenges and opportunities for professional women, and personal as well as broader health interests during the early evening conversation at J.H. Findorff & Son headquarters, 300 S. Bedford St. Click here to register.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation at 6:30 p.m. Starting at 5 p.m., a pop-up Kendra Scott jewelry sale will be held in the reception area.

Over time, the W.O.M.E.N. event has featured speakers Sue Marks, Eve Hall, Toni Sikes, Demetria Menard, Darcy Luoma, Dr. Susan Turney, Cindy Alvarez and a panel of women early stage investors. Tech Council President Tom Still will moderate and invite audience questions.

The W•O•M•E•N (Women, Opportunities, Mentors, Entrepreneurs and Networking) reception has been held in each of the last seven years. Open to attendance by men and women, the cost is $25 for Tech Council members, $10 for students and returning veterans, and $50 for general admission. Sponsors of this year’s W•O•M•E•N reception are Findorff and Promega.

“We’re excited to highlight Kelli Thompson, who has led the office since 2011 and brings a wealth of perspectives on criminal justice, public safety and health, based on her own experiences as well as those of her family,” Still said. “In these partisan times, Thompson has persuaded Republicans and Democrats alike to work together to make this a high-functioning agency in a high-pressure environment.”