Gov. Scott Walker’s weekly e-update has included a new segment the past couple of weeks: Get to Know a Cabinet Member.
As Governor, one of the most important tasks I have is to appoint and communicate with leaders in each state agency. These leaders, called secretaries, ensure agencies run smoothly and efficiently as they operate state government and implement government reforms. For a few weeks, in lieu of the “Just Ask the Governor” section, I will be highlighting a cabinet secretary and providing a brief overview of the department he or she oversees. I hope these updates will provide you with practical information about state government operations, especially as we head into the next budget cycle.
Cathy Stepp – Department of Natural Resources
As the first woman DNR Secretary, Cathy is doing a fantastic job leading the agency. She manages more than 2,500 permanent employees throughout six divisions within the DNR. She oversees a total agency budget of about $550 million.
In 1998, Gov. Tommy Thompson asked Cathy to serve on the Natural Resources Board and to bring her private sector experience to the Board. From 2002 to 2006 she served as Racine’s state senator, acting as the Chairman of the Senate Committee Job Creation Committee and Co-Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Beyond these stints in public service, most of her experience has been in the private sector. As a former homebuilder, Cathy understands Wisconsin’s regulatory climate and how it directly affected small business owners.
After enjoying her first deer hunt last year, Cathy made it a priority to get more women and kids involved in hunting and into the outdoors. During the past two years, she tried her hand at bass fishing, banding loons, musky fishing, and learned more about the behind the scenes work of the DNR’s wildlife biologists by locating newborn elk calves and bear cubs.
Under Cathy’s leadership, the DNR concentrated on improving customer relations and streamlining and simplifying permitting processes. Cathy knows job creation and environmental protection are mutually supportive. Just this week the DNR officially launched the Office of Business Support and Sustainability to provide proactive business support.
Cathy enjoys Wisconsin’s snowmobile trails each winter. She also hunts turkeys in western Wisconsin and is proud of the tremendous hunting opportunities our state offers to residents and tourists. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Paul, and two children, Hannah and Mitchell.