Secretary and Executive Team
Preston D. Cole, Secretary
Secretary Cole had been a member of the Natural Resources Board since 2007, first appointed by Governor Jim Doyle and then re-appointed for another six-year term by Governor Scott Walker in 2013. Secretary Cole served as NRB chair from 2013-14, where he put an emphasis on making board meetings open for citizens to see online.
Previously, Secretary Cole worked in a government setting as a parks superintendent for the city of St. Louis and a resource forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He also served as operations chief for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works and earlier the city forester. Most recently, Secretary Cole was the commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services.
Secretary Cole was a proud member of Future Farmers of America in high school. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in forest management. Secretary Cole supports traditional conservation activities and environmental protection as well as connecting nontraditional audiences with opportunities to get outdoors.
Raised on 15 acres in southwestern Michigan, Secretary Cole hunts ducks, geese and pheasants, and enjoys hiking the state park system with his wife, Laura.
Todd Ambs, Deputy Secretary
From 2003-2010, Todd was the DNR’s Water Division administrator, where he was lead negotiator for the State of Wisconsin during the development of the Great Lakes Compact. Todd has worked in the environmental policy field for more than 30 years, most recently as the campaign director for Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
His extensive experience in both state government and nonprofit organizations includes serving as executive director of two statewide river organizations, policy director for the Ohio Attorney General and senior policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Todd graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science/Speech.
Steven Little, Assistant Deputy Secretary
Steven brings to Secretary Cole's Leadership Team more than twenty-five years of public policy, executive budget management, financial regulatory, and government relations experience in both the public and private sector. Prior to accepting an appointment as the Director of Management and Budget for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Steven was a Senior Vice President of Government Relations for Citigroup Inc., with a focus on state government relations in the Upper Midwest.
Steven holds a Master's Degree from the Robert M La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received his undergraduate degree in Government from Beloit College. Steven and his family enjoy hiking and whitewater rafting in Wisconsin's great outdoors.