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.
Stephanie Klett – Department of Tourism
Stephanie Klett is a name you may recognize. She has traveled Wisconsin non-stop for the past two decades as the host of Discover Wisconsin, and was the perfect choice to serve as Secretary of the Department of Tourism. She’s logged more than one million miles crisscrossing the state. Few people know more about the fun Wisconsin’s 72 counties have to offer than Stephanie does! She’s also the only Tourism Secretary in the nation who has one Emmy and eight Emmy nominations – two while serving as Secretary.
Stephanie brings unmatched energy and enthusiasm to her job of leading the state’s $16 billion tourism industry. She shares deeply in my commitment to grow jobs for Wisconsin and is passionate about the role that tourism can play.
The mission of the Department of Tourism is to market Wisconsin as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun. In the last 20 months, the Department of Tourism has succeeded in raising the bar and bringing new energy to all of their marketing efforts. A few of their recent accomplishments include:
- Growing the tourism economy which was up 8% – a $1.2 billion increase in 2011,
- Recognition from a variety of national awards and honors for their public relations and social media campaigns,
- Recruitment of Hollywood directors and Wisconsin natives David and Jerry Zucker and celebrities Jordy Nelson, Robert Hayes, Henry Winkler and Tony Shalhoub to raise the profile of the state’s tourism ads,
- Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers closed under the previous administration have been re-opened under a new public-private partnership model and
- Introduction of new industry programs such as customer service training and tourism assessments to provide tools local communities need to grow their tourism economy.
Stephanie lives in Beloit, where she grew up the only girl among nine brothers. She credits them for her sense of humor and for toughening her up.
Reggie Newson – Department of Workforce Development
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary, Reggie Newson, leads the state agency charged with building and strengthening Wisconsin’s workforce. Specifically, Secretary Newson oversees an annual agency budget of more than $450 million, more than 1,600 employees, and six divisions:
- Employment and Training
- Administrative Services
- Equal Rights
- Unemployment Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Secretary Newson earned an MBA from Concordia University of Wisconsin, an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as certificates in project management, management, and Six Sigma from UW-Milwaukee. He also has an associate’s degree in commercial real estate (ACRE) from Marquette University and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. He is an alumnus of Future Milwaukee and a member of the Milwaukee Forum. In 2005, he was honored with the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award, which recognizes 40 Milwaukee-area individuals who are making a difference in their professions and communities. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee Urban League and the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Board of Directors (ex officio). Reggie, his wife, Kawanza, and son, Caleb, reside in Milwaukee.