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.
Beth Bier, Deputy Secretary
Beth began her career at the DNR in 2001 in the Secretary's Office. That experience led to several years as the Outreach & Policy Coordinator at Gathering Waters Conservancy as well as an Assistant Policy Advisor for former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett. Prior to her return to the DNR, Beth spent the last 12 years in the office of State Senator Mark Miller, first as Committee Clerk for the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee and then as Chief of Staff. In these roles, she has had the privilege to work on and advocate for the Great Lakes Compact, Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, wetland and groundwater protection and most recently PFAS standards and remediation.
Beth, her husband Casey, and their two young children enjoy spending time in Wisconsin's State Parks in their wooden teardrop camper. Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, Beth has a degree in Political Science from Indiana University.
Todd Ambs, Assistant 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.