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News & Press: Illinois Section AWWA News

Announcing Kurt Thiede as Regional Administrator Region 5 USEPA

Thursday, January 9, 2020   (0 Comments)
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I am pleased to announce the appointment of Kurt Thiede as the Regional Administrator for Region 5, effective January 18, 2020. Please join me in congratulating Kurt.


Kurt has been the Chief of Staff in Region 5 since early 2018. In that role he has fostered strong partnerships to promote collaborative environmental protection efforts in the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as 35 federally recognized tribal governments. This includes EPA’s Great Lakes National Program, which leads restoration and protection of the largest freshwater system in the world.


During his tenure as Chief of Staff, he actively worked to improve communications and relationships between EPA regional leadership and state environmental, natural resources, and agriculture agencies. He prioritized engagement of the regulated community, with a specific emphasis on establishing open lines of communication with the region’s agricultural stakeholders. As Chief of Staff he also provided daily leadership, guidance and counsel to the region’s career leaders. He has also championed the Opportunity Zone and Smart Sectors programs in the region, and promoted the implementation of ELMS.


Prior to joining the EPA, Kurt served as deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) from 2015 to 2017. As deputy, he was the chief operations officer for the agency, overseeing a $500 million annual operating budget and providing leadership and direction to the agency’s 2,400 full-time employees. He served on the Governor’s Management Cabinet and oversaw the agency’s organizational realignment, and biennial budget setting process. He is an 18-year veteran of WDNR, and previously spent four years as the administrator for the Land Division, where he was responsible for Wisconsin’s state parks and trails programs, wildlife managment, endangered resources, public land managment, land acquisitions, capitol development, and land use and recreational planning programs.


Throughout his 20 year state and federal career, he has promoted the concepts of collaboration, creative problem solving, common sense decision-making, and active stakeholder engagement. He is a strong proponent of staff and supervisory development, recognition and continuous improvement.


Kurt has a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management and biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and in 2016 he received an outstanding alumnus award from their school of natural resources.


As we welcome Kurt to his new position, please also join me in giving heartfelt thanks to outgoing Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp, who has served EPA with such energy and commitment. We wish her well in her new endeavors as she heads home to be with her family in Missouri.


Andrew Wheeler


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