Mary M. Kolar
Mary M. Kolar is the Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. She serves as the chief advocate for the more than 350,000 veterans of Wisconsin and their families. As Secretary, she is responsible for the leadership and management of the WDVA, including strategic and long-range planning initiatives that align with the department’s vision.
Growing up in Wilton, Wisconsin, Secretary Kolar was commissioned in the United States Navy in 1980, served on active duty for 28 years, and retired as a Captain (O-6). During her military career, Secretary Kolar served in various command and staff positions across the nation, spending much of her time recruiting, training, educating and leading Sailors. Her experience within the Navy through her nearly three decades of service enabled her to work with diverse groups of people and large organizations with multi-million-dollar budgets.
Although her military service in uniform concluded in 2008, Secretary Kolar continued to serve Wisconsin’s veterans community through membership and leadership of various veteran-focused organizations. She represented downtown Madison on the Dane County Board of Supervisors for six years (2013-2019), and worked extensively with the Dane County Veterans Service Office to ensure that veterans and their families received whatever assistance they may need. In addition to serving 14,000 constituents in downtown Madison as a Dane County Supervisor, Secretary Kolar oversaw multiple community-based organizations and was the vice president of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Secretary Kolar holds master’s degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies (Naval War College) and Adult Education (University of Rhode Island) and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
A commitment to our nation runs through Secretary Kolar’s family, with her grandfather, father and four brothers all serving in the military. She and her husband, Scott, a Navy veteran, reside in Madison, Wisconsin. They have two children together, Matthew (31) and Jamie (29). Matthew currently serves in the Navy on the U.S.S. Kentucky, and Jamie is a firefighter in the Town of Delafield.