Brookfield East Class of 2005
Kristen Leffelman is a 2005 Spartan graduate whose love of history has brought her to work as an Outreach Coordinator for the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Leffelman’s educational career began at Burleigh Elementary before continuing on to Pilgrim Park Middle School and Brookfield East. “From the time I was in middle school, I can remember being enchanted with the world of history,” stated Kristen. “I had the opportunity to visit historical Europe because my mom had emigrated from Belgium, and that, paired with hours spent exploring The Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit at Milwaukee Public Museum and my love for films like The Mummy and Indiana Jones, inspired me to want to pursue a career in history.”
During her time at BEHS, she was actively involved in Forensics, choir, and National Honor Society. “Elmbrook offered so many academically challenging courses and exceptional co-curricular opportunities that allowed me and many of my peers to thrive in college,” Kristen reflected. “I’m incredibly grateful for my teachers that had a profound impact on me.” Leffelman highlighted World History and AP Euro teacher Pat Coffey for encouraging her desire for a career in history as he made his lessons come to life in the classroom. She also recognized English teacher Jeff Ortman for his guidance in strengthening her writing skills and guiding their class through complex literature. Her Forensics teams in both middle and high school had a massive impact on her, growing her confidence as a writer, speaker, and person and leading to lifelong friendships with teammates.
Kristen graduated from East in 2005 and continued her education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she interned at the Wisconsin Historical Museum and Wisconsin Historical Society Press. She earned her Bachelors in History with certificates in European Studies and Religious Studies in 2009 before relocating to California. “It was a bold decision to move to California without a job lined up, but I figured a budding historian would have more prospects in the museum-rich Golden State. Within a month of moving to LA, I landed a job as an archives technician working for the National Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library,” stated Kristen.
After a few years in Los Angeles, Kristen married her husband, Alex, and they moved to San Francisco, where she worked at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. While there, Kristen received her Masters degree in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University, interning at the film archives at Lucasfilm and working hands-on with SFSU’s collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts!
After completing her Masters in 2014, Leffelman decided to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to family. She landed two jobs: as an archivist for Marquette University High School and as the first-ever employee of the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) to be based in Milwaukee, a role that has since expanded to a full-time position. She now acts as WHS’s Southeast Outreach Coordinator, serving history lovers, professionals, and partners in southeastern Wisconsin through consultation, exhibits, webinars, and other programming.
Today, Kristen and her husband have welcomed two daughters to their family, and she is working with the WHS in planning a new Wisconsin History Center that is set to open in Madison in 2026. “My favorite part of working in public history is uncovering and sharing untold stories,” Kristen added. “These stories paint a vivid picture of the past and highlight its relevance today.”
(Pictured: (above) Senior Photo, (below) Kristen on far left attending alumni surprise for Pat Coffey)