Mayor's Office
News Release

Milwaukee Health Department Coronavirus COVID-19 updates. For assistance, please call the MHD COVID Hotline 414-286-6800

Contact: Jeff Fleming, 414-286-8580
For release: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Commissioner Dettmer Accepts a Position
in the Administration of President Joe Biden

Mayor Johnson Praises Her Service to the City of Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE—Interim Milwaukee Public Works Commissioner Karen Dettmer has informed Mayor Cavalier Johnson that she is taking a new position in the Federal government. She has accepted an appointment to serve as Managing Director for Infrastructure Implementation at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water. Commissioner Dettmer will conclude her work in Milwaukee in approximately three weeks.

In her new role in Washington, Karen will be overseeing the implementation strategy for the $50 billion water infrastructure investment included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Very few opportunities could pull me away from public service in the City of Milwaukee. I am grateful for the trust former Mayor Barrett and Mayor Johnson have put in me to oversee the Milwaukee Water Works and now the Department of Public Works. I am excited to bring my experience managing the drinking water utility and public works in Milwaukee to inform and ensure equitable distribution of the historic water infrastructure investment.”

“Karen has distinguished herself in her work at the Department of City Development, at the Milwaukee Water Works, and at the Department of Public Works. This city is stronger because of her contributions,” Mayor Johnson said. “I join her colleagues in wishing Karen continued success in her new endeavors.”

Karen has served as Interim Commissioner of the Department of Public Works since late in 2021 while continuing her service as Superintendent of the Milwaukee Water Works. She has worked in city government for the past fifteen years.

With her impending departure, Mayor Johnson has submitted the appointment of Karen to serve formally as Commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Public Works. The timing of this nomination is the direct result of the need to designate special deputies (MCO 7-08). The Commissioner’s confirmation is necessary prior to the appointment of any special deputies.

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