[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan today announced Thom Petersen as Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture; Sarah Strommen as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources; Laura Bishop as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Jan Malcolm as Commissioner of Department of Health; Tony Lourey as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services; Janet Johnson as Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services; and Rebecca Lucero as Commissioner of Department of Human Rights.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Thom Petersen as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
“Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture are vital to our economy and our way of life. With more than a decade of experience at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Thom Petersen understands how policy directly affects farmers’ daily lives,” said Walz. “We’re looking forward to working with him as our incoming Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to ensure our farmers can compete in the global marketplace.”
“Thom has been an advocate for our agricultural economy for over 15 years, both here in Minnesota and in Washington, D.C.,” said Flanagan. “He understands the vast diversity of farming across our state, and actively works to lift up their voices so that all Minnesota family farms have the opportunity to compete and thrive.”
“I am honored, humbled, and excited for the opportunity to serve Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture in the Walz-Flanagan Administration,” said Petersen.“I look forward to working with Governor-elect Walz and Lt. Governor-elect Flanagan to address the diverse challenges Minnesota farmers face and promote opportunities available across the state to strengthen our agricultural economy.”
“Thom Peterson has been a tireless advocate for Minnesota’s farmers, cooperatives, and rural communities throughout his career,” said Matthew Wohlman, Former Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and currently Senior Director of State and Industry Affairs at Land O’Lakes Inc. “We congratulate Thom and look forward to working collaboratively with him and the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration to ensure Minnesota’s farmers, agribusinesses, and rural communities are well-positioned to compete in today’s global economy.”
About Thom Petersen
Thom Petersen, 52, is a long-time resident of Royalton Township near Pine City where he lives on a horse farm. Thom has served as the Director of Government Relations for Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) since 2002, working on behalf of MFU’s farmer-members in both Washington, D.C. and St. Paul. Prior to his work at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Thom spent most of his life working for his family and his own horse and farm business. Thom has a wide range of experience in state and federal farm policy, and travels to almost every county in Minnesota each year to fully understand how these policies affect farmers’ daily lives. He has served on many boards and committees, including the University of Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee, Farmers Legal Action Group, Citizens Utility Board, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, Minnesota State Organic Task Force, Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, and the Minnesota Fair Plan.
Petersen received his Associate’s degree from Normandale Community College and studied at both the University of Minnesota and University of Georgia. Thom and his wife Alana live in Pine City with their two sons. The Petersen’s show horses around the state and have competed at the Minnesota State Fair for over 25 years.
About the Department of Agriculture
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture serves to enhance Minnesotans’ quality of life by ensuring the integrity of our food supply, the health of our environment, and the strength of our agricultural economy. The department works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Trade and Economic Development to develop international agriculture markets, while working to establish a program of agricultural diversification and provide farm crisis assistance here in Minnesota.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Pat Lunemann and Tina May.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Sarah Strommen as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
“As a sportsman and lifelong member of Pheasants Forever, I know firsthand the importance of this agency and being a steward of our land,” said Walz.“Sarah Strommen built her career integrating science and policymaking across sectors, and has a deep understanding and appreciation for our natural resources. She embraces our vision for One Minnesota and will work to build consensus among citizens and stakeholders alike.”
“As the first woman Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, I am thrilled to have Sarah Strommen join our Administration,” said Flanagan.“She knows the ins and outs of the department, while bringing an innovative and collaborative approach to the job.”
“I am honored to be selected by Governor-elect Walz and Lieutenant Governor-elect Flanagan to lead the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,”said Strommen. “Minnesota has a strong outdoor legacy, and I am excited to work collaboratively with staff, stakeholders, and everyday Minnesotans to enhance our diverse and first-rate outdoor experiences for all.”
“With a deep appreciation for Minnesota’s wildlife and natural lands, Sarah brings experience, passion, and integrity to the Department of Natural Resources,” said Joe Duggan, former Vice President of Corporate relations at Pheasants Forever. “An innovative and energetic conservation leader, I look forward to working with Sarah in her new role to conserve Minnesota’s natural resources.”
About Sarah Strommen
Sarah Strommen, 46, brings more than 20 years of experience to the Department of Natural Resources, with a focus on integrating the field of biological science with citizen education and public policymaking. After graduating college, Sarah used a Fulbright research scholarship to do field work in Costa Rica, and subsequently earned her Master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University. She brings decades of experience in different sectors as the incoming Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Working in the nonprofit sector, Sarah served as the Policy Director for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and as Associate Director of the Minnesota Land Trust. She joined the State of Minnesota in 2012, serving as the Assistant Director and Acting Deputy Director for the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Since 2015, Sarah has served as Assistant Commissioner for the divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. After serving several terms on the City Council, Sarah was elected as Mayor of Ramsey in 2012 – an office she held until May 2018. While in public office, she worked to develop innovative and effective ways of engaging citizens in the local decision-making process.
Sarah grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and received her Bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College. She now lives in Plymouth with her husband, son, and two dogs.
About the Department of Natural Resources
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works to integrate and sustain the interdependent values of a healthy environment, a sustainable economy, and livable communities. The department protects our state’s natural heritage by managing and conserving the diversity of natural lands, waters, and fish and wildlife that provide the foundation for Minnesota’s recreational and natural resource-based economy.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Tom Landwehr and Keith Parker.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Laura Bishop as Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
“While Minnesota is a leader in combatting climate change, we still have work to do to build a sustainable future,” said Walz. “Laura Bishop is a proven coalition builder, with decades of experience in the corporate and public affairs sectors. As the Chief Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Officer for Best Buy, Laura knows how to build coalitions and implement solutions that are good for the environment and good for business – because it isn’t one or the other.”
“Laura embodies One Minnesota. She brings people together, across lines of difference, to help solve complex issues and get things done,” said Flanagan.“We’re proud to have her join our Administration and work across the aisle to build a sustainable future for our environment and for all Minnesotans.”
“Minnesota is a leader in environmental stewardship, but the changing climate demands we do more to ensure the availability and health of the vital resources all Minnesotans value,” said Bishop. “I look forward to joining the Walz-Flanagan Administration and working alongside stakeholders to find common ground solutions that protect and improve our environment and build a more sustainable and just future.”
“Laura Bishop has excellent corporate experience and a strong commitment to making sure Minnesota businesses succeed in a low-carbon future,” said State Representative and incoming Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman.
“Laura Bishop is a wise choice as the incoming Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency,” said Charlie Weaver, Executive Director at Minnesota Business Partnership. “She is smart, principled, and will bring a thoughtful approach to this important agency.”
About Laura Bishop
Laura Bishop, 48, is a leading corporate and public affairs executive with a demonstrated record for motivating diverse coalitions to achieve results. A strategic leader that easily navigates and communicates complex issues to internal and external audiences, Laura has held senior roles in both the private and public sector. Most recently, Laura was Chief Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Officer for Best Buy Co., Inc. As a company officer and member of the Best Buy Operating Committee, Laura was part of the core leadership team that helped lead the successful turn-around for the company. Additionally, Laura developed key strategies that linked purpose and profitability by establishing company goals focused on reducing the impacts of climate change, from recycling 1 billion pounds of electronics to reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 60% by 2020. Prior to Best Buy, Laura spent much of her career in the public sector where she served in roles at the State of Minnesota, the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland. Laura’s active community involvement is highlighted by her dedication to the boards and councils on which she currently serves, including her work as the Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the Hubert Humphrey School for Public Affairs.
Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Michigan. Laura lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and two teenage daughters.
About the Pollution Control Agency
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) works to protect and improve the environment and human health. The agency seeks to achieve this goal by monitoring environmental quality, offering technical and financial assistance, finding and cleaning up spills and leaks, and enforcing environmental regulations for the State of Minnesota.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Erik Simonson and Raj Rajan.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Jan Malcolm as Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Health
“Commissioner Jan Malcolm’s proven track record at taking on management challenges and making meaningful changes illustrates her talent and commitment to the agency,” said Walz. “She mirrors our vision for health equity across the state, and we are glad to have her experience and expertise in our Administration.”
“Commissioner Malcolm’s passion and expertise for public health will help us build a more affordable, quality health care system,” said Flanagan. “With her leadership, Minnesota will continue to be one of the healthiest states in the union.”
“The health of Minnesotans is one of our government’s primary concerns. Thanks to our state’s strong public health and health care systems, we have a good foundation on which to build, but we can do better,” said Malcolm. “The Walz-Flanagan Administration’s vision for One Minnesota means making the system more affordable and closing the gaps in health outcomes that exist today, based on many factors, including race and geography. I am very honored to join this team.”
“Commissioner Malcolm brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to the advancement of health equity in our state,” said Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “She understands the root causes of health inequity and her expertise will be instrumental to those striving to close the persistent gaps in health and well-being for people of color and low-income Minnesotans.”
About Jan Malcolm
Jan Malcolm, 63, has served as Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in now three administrations, including Governor Jesse Ventura (1999-2003) and Governor Mark Dayton (2018). Before rejoining MDH in 2018, Malcolm was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where she co-directed a national research and leadership development program. A nationally recognized expert in public health, Jan previously worked at a variety of health care organizations and nonprofit organizations. She served as a Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop initiatives that strengthen the nation’s public health system, and as the CEO of the Courage Center to lead organizational change resulting in a merger. Throughout her career, Malcolm has been active in state and national health policy associations and commissions, working to improve health care access and quality. She served as a board member for many local nonprofit organizations, such as the Bush Foundation, United Way, MN Alliance for Patient Safety, and Stratis Health.
Jan is a graduate of Dartmouth College and intended to go to medical school, but instead she found her calling in public health and health care leadership.
About the Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health has a vision for health equity in Minnesota, where all communities are thriving, and all people have what they need to be healthy. Through a strong foundation of honesty, transparency, and commitment to scientific data, the department aims to protect, maintain, and improve the health of all Minnesotans.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Dr. Courtney Baechler and Vayong Moua.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Tony Lourey as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services
“We engaged hundreds of stakeholders and partners and what we heard is that this leader must be passionate about the people served and vision for the agency. Tony is that leader,” said Walz. “He will bring his unparalleled expertise on the DHS budget and be a collaborative leader that listens and works together – especially with the agency’s partners, counties, and tribes.”
“Tony knows the importance of listening across race, parties, geography and will build a team of diverse voices,” said Flanagan. “With Tony as the leader of this agency, we know our vision of One Minnesota will be implemented in helping every child and family in our state reach their full potential.”
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to join the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services,” said Lourey. “I look forward to building on the Governor-elect and Lt. Governor-elect’s vision for One Minnesota, partnering with counties, tribes, and providers to improve the health of the people, families, and communities across Minnesota.”
“Tony Lourey has been a trusted partner and advocate for counties during his time in the Minnesota Senate. He understands the unique partnership between the state and counties in the delivery of human services programs, and has worked with us to simplify, streamline, and improve these programs for all Minnesotans,” said Julie Ring, Executive Director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “We look forward to working with him as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services.”
About Tony Lourey
Tony Lourey, 51, was raised in the small town of Kerrick in Greater Minnesota, where he spent most of his adult life as a community leader. Tony worked as a public policy consultant for 20 years, assisting county and state governments nationwide in finding ways to finance health and human services programs. He remained committed to local community by serving as a Kerrick Township Supervisor for nine years. Tony was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2006 and quickly became a leading voice in health and human services as the Chair of the Health and Human Finance committee from 2013 to 2016. Tony played a central role in Minnesota’s efforts to expand health care coverage, compliance with the Affordable Care Act, and improvements upon the bipartisan success of MinnesotaCare. In addition to his senatorial and farming duties, Tony teaches at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and serves as a volunteer lawyer for children in the foster care system.
Tony received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and a J.D. from the then-William Mitchell College of Law, where he focused on labor law and public policy. He has been married to his wife, Marlana, for 27 years, and together they have three adult children.
About the Department of Human Services
The Department of Human Services (DHS) provides services to help Minnesotans meet their basic needs, so they can live in dignity and achieve their highest potential. The department serves over a million Minnesotans in 87 counties and 11 tribes, providing essential services from child support to food assistance. While the majority of human services in Minnesota are provided by our partners, DHS (at the direction of the governor and Legislature) sets policies and directs the payments for many of the services delivered.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Megan Koepke and Claire Wilson.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Janet L. Johnson as Commissioner of the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services
“Janet Johnson has deep experience in labor mediation, and we’re proud to announce her as our next Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services,” said Walz. “She knows the importance of strengthening relationships between the Bureau, labor, and management to peacefully and objectively settle disputes.”
“We’re excited to have Janet join our Administration as the first woman in this role,” said Flanagan. “Janet is valued by both management and labor, because she effectively works across a diverse set of issues to solve problems.”
“Governor-elect Walz and Lt. Governor-elect Flanagan’s commitment to One Minnesota mirrors the mission of the Bureau, which is to bring labor and management together, find common ground, and build stronger relationships between labor and management throughout the state,” Johnson said. “I am honored and excited to serve our state in the Walz-Flanagan Administration as the incoming Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services.”
“Janet brings a strong background in labor relations and a strong commitment to mediation’s role in settling labor disputes,” said Lance Teachworth, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services. “Employers and labor unions will be well served by Janet.”
About Janet L. Johnson
Janet L. Johnson, 66, is a long-term career employee of the State of Minnesota in the Bureau of Mediation Services. Janet joined the Bureau in 1976 as a Hearing Reporter in the Representation Section. Since that time, she has served as a Representation Specialist, Hearing Officer, Mediator, Facilitator, and Labor Mediation Manager until her appointment as the first female Commissioner of the Bureau. Janet believes in preserving the neutrality of the Bureau in labor relation matters, strengthening the relationships between the Bureau and the representatives of labor and management, and ensuring that the Bureau’s services are available and provided to all geographic areas of Minnesota.
Janet received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska. Originally from Norfolk, Nebraska, she lives in Fridley with her husband Steven.
About the Bureau of Mediation Services
The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services serves to resolve contract and grievance disputes peacefully and expeditiously. While promoting stable and constructive labor-management relations, the bureau works to resolve bargaining unit and other representation disputes consistent with Minnesota laws.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Kim Holmes and Valerie Jensen.
Walz-Flanagan Announce Rebecca Lucero as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights
“I am proud to announce Rebecca Lucero as the next Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights,” said Walz. “With a background in policy across sectors, Rebecca brings a flexible, creative, and persistent approach to the department – with a dedication to the health and safety of Minnesotans.”
“No Minnesotan should experience discrimination, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation,” said Flanagan. “Through a lens of inclusion and equity, Rebecca will strive to eliminate discrimination in our state as the next Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.”
“With Minnesota facing some of the worst racial disparities in the country and as reports of hate crimes and discrimination continue to rise, the Department of Human Rights must be a catalyst for transformational change,” said Lucero. “I am proud and honored to join the Walz-Flanagan Administration because we can – and we must – do better. Everyone deserves to be healthy and safe, valued and nurtured, and I look forward to getting to work.”
“Rebecca Lucero’s work demonstrates her commitment to fostering strong relationships across Minnesota,” said Jenny Larson, Executive Director at ThreeRivers Community Action. “She shares a dedication to ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, can be part of strong, thriving communities.”
About Rebecca Lucero
Rebecca Lucero, 37, was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but made Minnesota her home for more than a decade. She has extensive policy, legal, and nonprofit leadership experience, building coalitions and fostering meaningful, change-oriented relationships. Rebecca is currently the Public Policy Director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, where she is responsible for advancing the Council’s public policy work, as well as developing and implementing inclusion and equity strategic framework. Previously, Rebecca served as a Policy and Advocacy Manager and Global Village Leader for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Senior Community Representative for Representative Keith Ellison, and in the legal sector with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. Rebecca serves as a board member for Gender Justice.
Rebecca earned her Bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, and her law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, with a focus in employment law.
About the Minnesota Department of Human Rights
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) is a neutral state agency that works to make Minnesota discrimination free and empower every person in Minnesota with the ability to enjoy all benefits of society regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation, familial status, and public assistance status. To achieve this goal, the agency investigates charges of illegal discrimination, ensures that businesses seeking state contracts are in compliance with equal opportunity requirements, and strives to eliminate discrimination by educating Minnesotans about their rights and responsibilities under the state Human Rights Act.
In the interest of transparency, the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration is releasing the names of the other finalists considered for the position. They are Kevin Lindsey, Dana Mitchell, and Samuel Clark.
For salary information visit https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/ssagsal.pdf.