Meet the Learning Teams


Read Milwaukee's roadmap, "An Equitable Water Future: Milwaukee" here.

August Marie Ball
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cream City Conservation

Cream City Conservation & Consulting works with environmental and community service organizations to address internal cultures and practices that contribute to a homogenous workforce. Second, the Cream City Conservation Corps program employs young adults 15-24 years of age, whose social identities are traditionally underrepresented in various conservation, urban agriculture, and green infrastructure industries. The model is a closed loop system between C3 Consulting and C3 Corps which cultivates the next generation of environmental leaders while preparing existing environmental organizations to attract, develop, and retain a diverse candidate pool of stewards. The Corps program is supported by community partnerships and with profits of the Consulting firm. August received her formal education from UW-Parkside and UW-Milwaukee, having studied Sociology, Community Education and Nonprofit Management. She is a native of Southeastern Wisconsin but citizen of the world, having lived in Southeast Asia for 15 years and speaking three languages.

Kathy Bates
Program Coordinator and Instructor, Environmental Health and Water Technology, Milwaukee Area Technical College

Kathy Bates is the current Program Coordinator and Instructor for the Environmental Health and Water Quality Technology program offered at Milwaukee Area Technical College-Mequon. She has been instructing courses in water and wastewater treatment, hazardous materials, and environmental chemistry for 18+ years that includes specialized course development and delivery of on-site training in both the wastewater industry and public health sector. Prior to coming to MATC, Kathy was employed in both private and public sector roles in the areas of water treatment, field monitoring, sample collection, laboratory analyses, and regulatory compliance, to name a few. She keeps current in water and other environmental issues. In 2013, Kathy was the first Wisconsin graduate of the Water Environment Federation - Water Leadership Institute. She has previously served on Wisconsin’s Waterworks Association Educational Committee. Kathy is the past president of Wisconsin’s Chapter of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers. She volunteers to help others learn about the importance of water, the environment, and food through community events, guest speaking, and newspaper articles. In 2010, Kathy and one of her students organized and participated in Milwaukee’s 1st Walk for Water event. She is committed to helping her students and graduates succeed in their chosen career.  Kathy enjoys the water so much that she even was a volunteer crewmember on the Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan. She assisted in water sampling and monitoring, using underwater robotic equipment, data collection, reporting and many of the other operations of the ship. 

Brenda Coley
Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons

Before joining Milwaukee Water Commons, Coley was the sole proprietor of Brenda Coley & Associates. Her clients have included the Salvation Army, National Institute on Mental Health, Medical College of Milwaukee Institute on Diversity, Cultures & Communities UW- Milwaukee, and the Women of Color Network. Coley has served on many community engagement boards and public health initiatives, including the Wisconsin Minority Health Leadership Council, State of Wisconsin 2020 Plan, the Wisconsin HIV Prevention Council, and the Milwaukee Reproductive Justice Collective Board of Directors. Coley brings to Milwaukee Water Commons her philosophy on being a servant leader and her views on community engagement. She brings a commitment to exploring the influences of one’s own culture or cultures to the pertinent issues, an understanding of ways in which groups of people have been and are treated in society, and using that knowledge to develop strategies to effectively engage diverse groups of people in important community issues.

Karen Dettmer, P.E.
Superintendent, Milwaukee Water Works
Karen Dettmer, P.E., is Superintendent of the Milwaukee Water Works. She oversees all operations of the utility and 300 professionals in the plants, distribution, business, engineering, and water quality sections. The City of Milwaukee-owned water utility provides safe and abundant drinking water to over 860,000 people in 16 communities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties.

Dettmer previously served as Public Works Coordination Manager for the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works, the first woman to do so. She oversaw public works permitting and managed public works aspects of special projects, including the Lakefront Gateway, the Milwaukee Symphony Center and the Milwaukee Bucks Arena Development, now home to the Fiserv Forum and an entertainment district. She received the Downtown Partner Award for her involvement in launching the Sculpture Milwaukee program, now in its third year. Dettmer also served as liaison to Business Improvement Districts and other city departments.
Dettmer is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Wisconsin. She serves on the Menomonee Valley Partners Board and is a member of the Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group. Dettmer is a strong advocate for women considering and seeking a future in STEM career paths.


Joe Fitzgerald
Member, Blue Green Jobs Task Force, Milwaukee Water Commons

Joe Fitzgerald’s academic and professional careers have focused on the intersection of water and community. Whether working from the woods, from a lake or river, or from his hometown (Milwaukee, WI), Joe has always been interested in gaining perspective from the people and places around him. Fitzgerald graduated from Northland College with a double major in Natural Resources and Geosciences. The focus of his study was ecological restoration and water sciences. Following his time in Northern Wisconsin, Joe worked with two nonprofits in Milwaukee: Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Milwaukee Water Commons. He now works alongside the Milwaukee Water Commons on initiatives tackling concerns with water quality and inclusive employment in Milwaukee.

Yvonne McCaskill
Coordinator, Century City Triangle Neighborhood Association

Yvonne McCaskill is the Coordinator of the Century City Triangle Neighborhood Association, a resident-led, all volunteer, grassroots organization whose goal is to organize and sustain vibrant communities.  One of the strategies toward that goal is to promote environmental stewardship, justice and equity in underserved communities. Century City TNA is located in the 30th Street Corridor, a former industrial area of Milwaukee.  Green and Blue infrastructure strategies are being implemented to increase the triple line benefits to the area. Prior to her commitment to advance environmental justice Yvonne retired from Milwaukee Public Schools as a district level administrator, with thirty years of service that followed ten years in the private sector.  Following tenure at MPS, she continued to be committed to her passion of developing people.  While working as an educational consultant/trainer and facilitator with the Efficacy Institute, she facilitated professional development opportunities in many school districts around the country.  Her life-long mission has led to her current goal; to mobilize the services of community resources, that have a common mission and commitment of improving the quality of life for the residents of underserved communities.  She received her undergraduate degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on School Administration from Marion University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  She is a 2016 Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence recipient.  Active in her community, Ms. McCaskill has, and currently serves on several non-profit and community Boards, volunteers in her church and various community/educational institutions.

Deneine Powell
Executive Director, Groundwork Milwaukee

As Executive Director, Deneine leads the daily operations and provides strategic direction of Groundwork Milwaukee by collaborating with staff on program strategy, cultivating relationships with key allies, and working with the Board, donors, and foundations. Under her leadership, Groundwork has launched several successful initiatives to promote green infrastructure workforce development programming and to expand the base of volunteers actively engaged in conservation and the stewardship of our local green spaces. She brings over 15 years of consulting and nonprofit leadership experience, and has experience mobilizing grassroots advocates, formulating public policy, partnering with public agencies, and developing programs. Powell received her bachelor's degree in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of Minnesota, and her master's in Organizational Leadership from Marian University. She lives with her husband and two children in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Aaron Saeugling
Water Systems and Projects Manager and Chief Innovation Officer, Milwaukee Water Works

Aaron Saeugling is the Water Systems and Projects Manager, and serves as the Chief Innovation Officer, for Milwaukee Water Works.  In his role, Aaron focuses on special projects designed to advance the efforts of the utility.  Previously, Aaron served under resourced neighborhoods as a community social worker and policy professional for many years.  He partnered with communities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to determine new ways of accomplishing their goals and desired outcomes.  Aaron’s experience brings both an understanding of the realities that underserved communities face, as well as methods of strategically addressing those obstacles.  Aaron received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Iowa, a mater’s degree in Community/Policy Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Lisa Sasso
Project Manager, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Lisa is a Project Manager at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) in the Planning, Research and Sustainability Division. She has a BBA in Integrated Science and Business with a Water Resource Emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and a MS in Freshwater Sciences and Technology from UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. Lisa’s work entails implementing aspects of MMSD’s 2035 Vision to attain zero overflows, zero basement backups, and improved stormwater management. Her expertise lies in cultivating partner relationships to extend the reach of the District to better meet the needs of both the District and community stakeholders. Lisa brings her background in business and freshwater science to implement meaningful green infrastructure projects with partners. She manages green infrastructure implementation projects, developing operations and maintenance, green schoolyard initiatives, workforce development and equity, and working with stakeholder groups to increase green infrastructure acceptance.

Kevin Shafer
Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Kevin Shafer became Executive Director at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) in March 2002. Prior to this, he served as MMSD’s Director of Technical Services since October 1998. In his current role as the Executive Director, he is responsible for the overall management, administration, leadership, and direction for MMSD in meeting short- and long-term goals and objectives; coordinates the establishment of strategic goals and objectives and their approval by the Commission; oversees the development of policies and operating plans; and represents MMSD to its customers, bond rating agencies, and the public. Prior to joining the District, Kevin spent 10 years in private industry with an international engineering firm in Chicago and Milwaukee, and six years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth, Texas. Kevin received a bachelor’s degree in Science and Civil Engineering with a specialty in water resources from the University of Illinois in 1982, and a master’s in Science and Civil Engineering from the University of Texas in 1988.

Kirsten Shead
Water Program Manager, Milwaukee Water Commons

Kirsten Shead is a passionate environmental advocate, organizer, and leader. She has an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and worked previously in both industrial and environmental laboratory settings. She then turned her attention to interfaith education, understanding, collaboration, and dialogue as a volunteer and professionally. She most recently worked as the Program Director of the Interfaith Earth Network (IEN), a program of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, to inspire and support people of all faiths and faith communities to care for the earth based on their sacred teachings and to live, work, and worship in environmentally sustainable ways. She has worked with the Milwaukee Water Commons since 2014, as a community partner, serving on the Advisory Team, as a community organizer with emphasis on Drinking Water and Blue Green Jobs, and beginning in January 2018, as the Water City Program Manager.

Lamont Smith
Associate Officer, Civic Engagement, Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Lamont is a native of Milwaukee and avid coffee consumer. He has notable experience working in nonprofit and higher education student programs. More recently, he managed performance reporting for a public/private workforce development collaborative funded by the Social Innovation Fund. In his current role, Lamont conducts civic engagement activities and assists development of equity-focused strategies for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Lamont's academic background is in Economics, Political Science, and Public Policy, earning degrees in all three fields from UW-Madison.