Secretary Preston Cole |
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Secretary Preston Cole

  • CFF 2019
  • CFF 2022

Appointed by Gov. Tony Evers in 2019, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Preston Cole directs statewide programs for environmental protection, natural resource management, outdoor recreation and law enforcement with an emphasis on diversity and service excellence.

Secretary Cole supports traditional conservation activities and environmental protection as well as connecting nontraditional audiences with opportunities to get outdoors. As a member of Gov. Tony Evers Climate Change Taskforce, Secretary Cole helped develop multi-faceted recommendations that combat climate change's adverse effects in Wisconsin.

In 2019, Secretary Cole was inducted into the Milwaukee Business Journal Hall of Fame and recently named one of “Wisconsin’s 51 most Influential Black Leaders” by the news outlet Madison365.

Prior to his appointment to the DNR, Secretary Cole was a member of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) from 2007-2019. The NRB sets policy for the DNR and exercises authority and responsibility in accordance with state laws. Cole was first appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle and then re-appointed by Gov. Scott Walker. Secretary Cole was also selected NRB chair from 2013-2016 during which time he spearheaded livestreaming the board meetings.

Before becoming DNR Secretary, Secretary Cole was the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services Commissioner where he led the department dedicated to protecting the value of investments in neighborhoods and commercial properties, supporting community goals of building safe and healthy neighborhoods, and increasing investment and economic vitality throughout the City.

As a career-long public servant, Secretary Cole previously worked as Operations Chief for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, Forester for the City of Milwaukee, Parks Superintendent for the City of St. Louis and Resource Forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Secretary Cole is the first African‐American forester to graduate from the University of Missouri after its reorganization in the 1970s. Secretary Cole credits participating in his local Future Farmers of America chapter during high school for sparking a life-long interest in forestry.

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