Commissioner's office

Katrina Kessler, Commissioner

Katrina KesslerKatrina Kessler was appointed commissioner of the MPCA effective November 1, 2021. Prior to her appointment, she served as Assistant Commissioner for Water Policy and Agriculture since April 2019, having returned to the agency after working as director of the Surface Water and Sewers Division at the city of Minneapolis for three years. In that role, Katrina provided strategic direction for the management of Minneapolis’ 150-year-old sewer infrastructure and helped advance the city’s climate and water quality goals. Previously, Katrina worked at the MPCA for 13 years as a permit engineer in the Municipal and Industrial divisions. She 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 apply her passion for public service and her collaborative and pragmatic approach to problem solving at the MPCA to ensure that every Minnesotan has healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate.

Peter Tester, Deputy Commissioner

Peter Tester Peter Tester joined the agency as Deputy Commissioner in February 2019. He previously 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, climbing Mt. Rainier in 2014, Mt. Baker in 2017, and Denali, the highest peak in North America, in 2018. Tester lives with his wife Maya Tester, who is an attorney with the Hennepin County Attorney's office in Minneapolis, and has two grown daughters. He enjoys spending time at his cabin with his wife and family.

Upon joining the agency, Peter said he was "delighted to come full circle" and return to public service in Minnesota. Peter served as temporary commissioner for the MPCA from June to November 2021.

Kirk Koudelka, Assistant Commissioner

Kirk KoudelkaKirk 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.

Craig McDonnell, Assistant Commissioner

Craig McDonnellCraig 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. 

Helen Waquiu, Director of Public Engagement and Tribal Liaison

Helen WaquiuHelen Waquiu joined the Commissioner’s Office in July 2019 as the Director of Public Engagement and Tribal Liaison. Helen most recently served as a supervisor in the Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division in MPCA’s 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, Senior Advisor and Director of Communications

Darin BrotonDarin 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.