Laura Bishop was appointed Commissioner in January 2019. The MPCA commissioner directs the day-to-day work of the agency's staff. Laura Bishop 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 2 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.
Peter Tester was appointed Deputy Commissioner in February 2019. Peter has spent years focused on addressing environmental issues in Minnesota, first at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, then as a partner in a private law practice at Lindquist and Vennum, a law firm based in Minneapolis. Most recently, he served as senior corporate counsel (environmental lawyer) for Ecolab.
Peter has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Boston College, a Master of Arts in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and he completed his law degree at Boston College Law School. He is an avid canoer, hiker, skater, hunter and skier. Tester has also developed a passion for mountaineering in recent years, climbing Mt. Rainier in 2014, Mt. Baker in 2017, and Denali, the highest peak in North America, in 2018. Tester has been married for 32 to years to his spouse Maya Tester, who is an attorney with the Hennepin County Attorney's office. He enjoys spending time at his cabin with his wife and his twin daughters.
Peter is happy to take on the new challenge of Deputy Commissioner, saying he's "delighted to come full circle" and work for the state of Minnesota again.
Kirk Koudelka was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Land Policy and Strategic Initiatives in May 2012.
Prior to that, Kirk served as the Legislative Director at the MPCA. He led the agency’s legislative efforts for the 2011 through 2014 legislative sessions in both roles.
Before coming to the agency, Kirk spent 11 legislative sessions at the Minnesota House of Representatives in various capacities. The last six years were spent focused on environmental and natural resources issues, four for which were with the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. It included administering the Solid Waste, Recycling and Resources Conservation Working Group focusing on state level changes, but also internal changes at the Legislature.
Kirk has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Hamline University.
Greta Gauthier was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations in August 2018.
Greta has worked in and around the Legislature and Congress for more than 20 years. Before becoming Assistant Commissioner, Greta served since 2015 as Legislative Director for the MPCA and Government Relations Director since 2011 at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. She also worked as Advocacy Director for Second Harvest Heartland, food bank in the Twin Cities, and previously worked in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. She lobbied in both Minnesota and Washington D.C. for the Nature Conservancy, and was a leader of the 1998 Constitutional Amendment Coalition that voters approved to dedicate a portion of lottery proceeds to long-term environmental protection projects through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
A native Minnesotan born in Hibbing, Greta lives with her husband and two daughters in St. Paul. Greta holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Craig McDonnell was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Air and Climate Policy in January 2019. Craig has most recently served as Director of Government Relations at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He has also served as a long-time adviser to Governor Walz on climate and energy policy. Craig served a number of years as a consultant and energy policy analyst focusing on federal policy, where he advised clients on U.S. energy policy and market trends, developed strategic outreach plans for international partnerships, and conducted research on the feasibility and implications of climate change policies.
Craig received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and his Master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs with an emphasis in science, technology, and environmental policy.
Katrina Kessler was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Water Policy and Agriculture in April 2019. Prior to Katrina’s return to the agency, she was the Director of the Surface Water and Sewers Division at the city of Minneapolis. In that role, Katrina was responsible for providing strategic direction for the management of the city’s 150-year-old sewer infrastructure along with work to meet climate and water quality goals. Previously, Katrina worked at the MPCA for 13 years as a permit engineer in the Municipal and Industrial Divisions. Katrina also served as the Effluent Limits Supervisor and Manager of the Water Assessment Section in the Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division.
Katrina has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from American University and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Katrina enjoys swimming, biking, and running outside when it isn’t snowing and downhill and cross country skiing when it is. She also enjoys traveling to mountains and beaches with her husband, and their two sons.
Katrina is excited to bring her passion for public service as well as her collaborative and pragmatic problem-solving approach back to the MPCA.
Helen Waquiu joined the Commissioner’s Office in July 2019 as the Director of Public Engagement and Tribal Liaison. Helen most recently served as as a supervisor in the MPCA’s Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division in the Environmental Data Quality Unit.
In her current role, Helen is responsible for engaging Minnesotans around the state on environmental issues, policies, and regulations, as well as working with Minnesota's eleven sovereign Tribal Nations. This includes coordination within the agency on all engagement and community outreach activities with the public and key agency stakeholders including, but not limited to community and non-profits, communities of color, tribal governments, under-served and low-income communities, local governments, and NGOs. Helen also oversees the Environmental Justice staff at the agency.
As Tribal Liaison, Helen works on government-to-government relations, communication, and education to enhance understanding and build relationships relating to agency coordination. In addition, Helen coordinates with the Governor’s Public Engagement team.
Helen has a degree from Environmental Economics and Policy from the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.
Darin Broton joined the Commissioner’s Office in March 2019 as Senior Advisor and Director of Communications. Prior to joining the MPCA, Darin most recently led public affairs at Tunheim, a strategic communication and management consultancy, for more than 12 years. His career has spanned government, environmental advocacy, and strategic communications. Darin’s past experience includes the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota Senate and the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.
Darin was born and raised in Dodge Center, Minn., and has lived in the Twin Cities since college. He graduated with a degree in political science and economics from Hamline University in Saint Paul. As an Eagle Scout, and working on his grandparents’ farm in southeastern Minnesota, Darin has long appreciated conservation and stewardship of our environment.