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About the DNR Secretary and Executive Team

Preston D. Cole, Secretary

Preston D. Cole
Preston D. Cole

Secretary Cole had been a member of the Natural Resources Board since 2007, first appointed by Governor Jim Doyle and then re-appointed for another six-year term by Governor Scott Walker in 2013. Secretary Cole served as NRB chair from 2013-14, where he put an emphasis on making board meetings open for citizens to see online.

Previously, Secretary Cole worked in a government setting as a parks superintendent for the city of St. Louis and a resource forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He also served as operations chief for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works and earlier the city forester. Most recently, Secretary Cole was the commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services.

Secretary Cole was a proud member of Future Farmers of America in high school. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in forest management. Secretary Cole supports traditional conservation activities and environmental protection as well as connecting nontraditional audiences with opportunities to get outdoors.

Raised on 15 acres in southwestern Michigan, Secretary Cole hunts ducks, geese and pheasants, and enjoys hiking the state park system with his wife, Laura.

Elizabeth Kluesner, Deputy Secretary

Elizabeth Kluesner
Elizabeth Kluesner

Elizabeth most recently served as DNR's liaison to local and federal government, and has held several positions at DNR, including Business Project Coordinator, 11 years as the agency's Legislative Liaison, and one year as Executive Assistant to Secretary Scott Hassett. She served for 4 1/2 years as Kathleen Falk's Director of Policy and Program Development for Dane County, where her primary duties focused on land acquisition, recreation, land use and transportation planning.

Elizabeth and her family enjoy being active in Wisconsin's outdoors. She has served as President of the Junior League of Madison and as a board member of the Groundswell Conservancy Land Trust. Elizabeth is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, and holds a Bachelor of Science and master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Todd Ambs, Assistant Deputy Secretary

Todd Ambs
Todd Ambs

From 2003-2010, Todd was the DNR’s Water Division administrator, where he was lead negotiator for the State of Wisconsin during the development of the Great Lakes Compact. Todd has worked in the environmental policy field for more than 30 years, most recently as the campaign director for Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

His extensive experience in both state government and nonprofit organizations includes serving as executive director of two statewide river organizations, policy director for the Ohio Attorney General and senior policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Todd graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science/Speech.

Last revised: Monday January 28 2019