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About the DNR Secretary and Executive Team

Secretary Cathy Stepp


Secretary Cathy Stepp
Secretary Cathy Stepp
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Secretary Cathy Stepp was chosen by Governor Scott Walker in 2011 to lead the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Cathy served as Racine's state senator from 2002 to 2006, but much of her experience has been in the private sector, including managing a small family owned and operated business. As a former homebuilder, she became aware of Wisconsin's regulatory climate and how it affected small business owners. In 1998, Gov. Tommy Thompson asked Cathy to bring this perspective to the Natural Resources Board, and she was on the Board for three years.

That experience encouraged her to run for the Legislature, where she was chairman of the Senate Job Creation Committee and co-chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Stepp notes her administration is concentrating on improving DNR's customer relations and streamlining and simplifying permitting. She believes job creation and environmental protection are mutually supportive.

Under Secretary Stepp's leadership, the DNR was the first state agency to apply Lean Government efforts to its organization. With a priority to make the DNR more transparent, Secretary Stepp guided efforts to create greater public input for internal processes, holds Stakeholder Roundtable meetings on a semi-annual basis, implemented social media tools and an improved customer-based DNR web site. Stepp is proud that she has been able to enhance and improve both internal and external partnerships during the past four years.

Since her appointment under Governor Walker, Secretary Stepp was selected by national organizations such as Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to represent the State of Wisconsin. She is also the DNR representative for meetings, speaking engagements and events with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE).

Cathy enjoys Wisconsin's snowmobile trails each winter. She is an accomplished deer hunter, musky fisher and is still seeking to harvest her first turkey. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Paul, and two children.

Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede

Kurt Thiede
Kurt Thiede

In March of 2015, Kurt Thiede was appointed by Governor Scott Walker to be the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Prior to the appointment, Kurt was the Division Administrator for the Land Division for four years. He began his career with the department in the Wildlife Management program as an LTE in 1999. In his time with the agency, he has served as the Wildlife Management Regulation and Policy Specialist, the DNR Liaison to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and a Customer Service and Licensing Program Supervisor for southern Wisconsin. Kurt has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

Kurt and his wife Keri live near Lake Wisconsin with their three children, Claire, Andrew and Logan. When not working he enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking and family outdoor adventures in Wisconsin's countless amazing natural places.

Assistant Deputy Secretary Michael Bruhn

Michael Bruhn
Michael Bruhn

Michael is a 1997 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Michael spent more than thirteen years working in the Wisconsin State Assembly clerking the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. He has many years of experience handling legislative issues related to hunting and fishing, environmental quality, firearms and the state budget.

Michael joined the DNR in July 2011 as the department’s legislative liaison. In September 2014, Michael was named as the department’s director of policy and external relations where he was responsible for coordinating and managing the department’s policy development and relations with external partners and stakeholders. His duties include supervising the DNR’s Office of Communications, tribal liaison, and legislative liaison. On February 9, Governor Walker appointed Michael as the department’s assistant deputy secretary.

In his free time, Michael is a huge Badger, Packer and Brewer fan. He enjoys riding ATVs and hiking. With the excitement surrounding the implementation of the Deer Trustee Report, Michael has recently taken up deer hunting.

Last revised: Wednesday March 25 2015