Evers appoints former Milwaukee commissioner to head Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Kirsten Johnson served as Milwaukee's health commissioner for two years, and will become the third Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary under Gov. Tony Evers when she takes the position.

Associated Press

February 6, 2023

FacebookRedditGoogle ClassroomEmail
Kirsten Johnson poses for a portrait.

Kirsten Johnson was appointed by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers as secretary of the state Department of Health Services on Feb. 6, 2023. She previously served as the city of Milwaukee's health commissioner. (Credit: City of Milwaukee)

AP News

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Feb. 6 appointed the former public health leader in Milwaukee as secretary of the state Department of Health Services.

Kirsten Johnson, who formerly served as Milwaukee’s health commissioner for two years until resigning in January, will become the third secretary of the state agency under Evers when she takes the position on Feb. 27.

She replaces Karen Timberlake, who served in the role from January 2021 until her resignation in December. Evers’ first secretary, Andrea Palm, drew heat from the Republican-controlled Legislature for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Palm left to serve as a deputy U.S. Health and Human Services secretary in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Neither Palm nor Timberlake was confirmed by the state Senate. Johnson, like her predecessors, can serve in the role unless the Senate would vote to reject her confirmation.

“Kirsten has a storied, 20-plus year career in public health and public service, including her time serving Washington and Ozaukee Counties and the city of Milwaukee during some of our state’s toughest days,” Evers said in a statement.

Johnson had worked in the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department for more than a decade before coming to Milwaukee.

Johnson said in a statement that over her career in public health she has “worked to address the challenges and health disparities facing Wisconsin’s rural, urban, and suburban communities alike — disparities that were laid bare by the pandemic.”

Statement to the Communities We Serve

There is no place for racism in our society. We must work together as a community to ensure we no longer teach, or tolerate it.  Read the full statement.