Dawn Crim and Nia Trammell Head the WI Dept. of S&PS
Ensuring Quality Services
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling
When Dawn Crim was announced as the new secretary for the WI Dept. of Safety & Professional
Services, it really came as no surprise. Steadily over the past 23 years, Crim has risen up through the
ranks first at UW-Madison, then the WI Sept. of Public Instruction, to earn a spot on Governor Tony
The WI Dept. of Safety & Professional Services is an outgrowth of the merger of the former WI Dept. of
Regulation & Licensing and the building safety components of the former WI Dept. of Commerce. In
some ways, the merger is an ongoing process as computer and information technology systems
Above Left: Secretary Dawn Crim (l-r) and Deputy Secretary Nia
Trammell are leading the WI Dept. of Safety & Professional Services
Above: The Executive Team - Sitting - Dan Hereth, assistant deputy
secretary (l-r); Nia Trammell, deputy secretary; Dawn Crim, secretary;
Tom Ryan, division administrator – Legal Services & Compliance; Kim
Henderson, division administrator – Management Services Standing -
Brennan Nardi, communications director; Al Rohmeyer, chief legal
counsel; Mike Tierney, legislative liaison; Yolanda McGowan, division
administrator – Policy Development; Debra Sybell, executive director;
Christian Albouras, executive director; Michelle "Bea" Beasley, division
continue to become integrated.
When she was a UW basketball coach back in the 1990s, Crim was able to travel the
state to talk about the program and recruit athletes. Now as secretary of the department,
she is traveling the state once again.
“We have the opportunity to travel around the state and meet people in all kinds of
professions,” Crim said. “We have 246 licenses that we are responsible for. So there
are over 846,000 license holders in the state of Wisconsin who have their licenses from
here. And then when you think about the number of people out-of-state who do work in
multiple places in this state and others, there is over a million people licensed. There
are a lot of stories to tell, a lot of people to learn about how we’re helping to drive
economic growth in the state through the careers and licensures that take place. We do
this in partnership with municipalities, cities and fire departments from the safety aspect.
And then in terms of credentialing, we work closely with the technical colleges. There
are a lot of partners in doing this work. We touch almost every Wisconsinite.”
In some ways, it is at S&PS where the professions and the regulators meet to create and
maintain quality standards for the professions that impact every day Wisconsinites.
Through the over 100 boards, committees and councils, the hard work gets done to
maintain and evolve the standards in a work world that is fast evolving.
“We have an evaluative approach,” Crim said. “We’re constantly reviewing licenses to
see what makes sense, what innovations have come in to play that perhaps we should
make small adjustments for. But we’re also looking at where the new opportunities are.
For example, we do have mixed martial arts now. It’s licensed because we do want to
make sure that people are safe in what they are doing and make sure there is proper
regulations so that people have opportunities in a safe way. We are not sure what the
new industry is on the horizon. But we are keeping our ear to the ground and wanting to
be ready to work with industries. That’s where those boards come in. They know what is
coming down the pike.”
“There is an enthusiasm and optimism that it’s wonderful to be a part of,” Crim said. “I
had the opportunity to work with Governor Evers at DPI when he was the state
superintendent. And he has a fair and balanced approach. But above all, he really
values people and respects people. It’s exciting to work for someone who has that
outlook. I’m really looking forward to seeing what positive impacts that we can have for
the state of Wisconsin.”
Some of the areas under S&PS’ purview are obvious, things like the skilled trades,
cosmetology and other professions. But they also regulate the mixed martial arts to
ensure the safety of the participants. And the department is even involved in helping to
stem the opioid crisis.
“We have a prescription drug monitoring program that actually provides information to
the medical fields as well as law enforcement and pharmacies to ensure that we have a
sense of the amount of prescription drugs, from the opioid stand point, that are out
there,” Crim said. “How can we best serve patients to ensure that their medical teams
are all informed as well as pharmacies and others? We are a big part of trying to stem
the opioid crisis and ensure that there are proper medications out there.”
As the S&PS secretary, Crim is also a member of Governor Tony Evers’ cabinet. And
that allows her to be a witness of — and a participant in — the unfolding of this new
chapter in Wisconsin’s history.
“We meet in the Governor’s Conference Room in the State Capitol,” Crim said about the
cabinet. “We’re roughly meeting every 2-3 weeks. It’s pretty exciting. It was really
exciting to be there for his State of Wisconsin address. We also have the budget
address and other milestones. At the inaugural address, he actually recognized some
partners from around the state. Lisa Peyton-Caire was one that he recognized for her
work with the Black Women’s Wellness Foundation. It’s pretty special to have been a
part of some of the work that she is doing. And Deputy Trammell is part of their planning
committee. It was a pretty proud moment to look and see Lisa recognized for the work
that she is doing here in Dane County and around the state. He also recognized two
students for the work that they are doing in their in their schools. I really like the
approach that he has in which he is recognizing Wisconsinites for the work that they are
doing every day to improve their communities and the lives of others.”
They are making a difference just like Crim, Trammell and the staff of the Dept. of Safety
& Professional Services.
And while the professionals and others who serve on the commissions and boards play an important role in maintaining and improving the quality, it is the staff of
S&PS that makes sure that the work gets done and keep the agency informed of any new trends in the fields under their purview.
“In our first week, we walked around and wanted to really talk with all of the staff who are working here to really get a sense of the work that they do,” Crim said.
“And in those conversations, the passion came out. People really enjoy their work and they want to make things better. They want people to have opportunities. They
want to have a balanced approach in terms of what amount of credentialing is needed for people to be able to do a sound and reasonable job. That’s the approach
that I am looking at and trying to invite people into fields, trying to retain people in fields. We’re not just looking at industries in the state of Wisconsin. We’re looking
at some benchmarking of some of the professions across the U.S. to see how we stack up, how we are doing because we want to really be in companies so that we
could have reciprocity agreements with other states. We want to ensure that we are first and foremost ensuring that people are safe as they are receiving services
and delivering services. But it also needs to be competitive and they are having an opportunity to really be innovative in their fields and careers.”
“We found out what we were doing well and what we weren’t doing so well,” added Nia Trammell, S&PS’ deputy secretary. “For the staff, it was really refreshing
because it brought hope. Most of them are very passionate and absolutely love what they do coming to work every day. But when you are under resourced, it
creates problems in being able to deliver quality services. Secretary Crim and I have been working on different paths to make sure we are giving staff what they
need to actually get the job done.”
Crim and Trammell believe in the role that S&PS plays in Wisconsin’s economy and the roles that staff plays to keep Wisconsin strong. That belief in the work has a
trickle down impact.
“We ensure that the meetings are happening and our stakeholders are engaged and satisfied with the level of services that we are providing,” Trammell said. “It’s a
process of continual improvement. There is always a way to improve, a way to be more efficient. And I think what we saw over the last eight years was really a
shrinking of government in a lot of ways. And so now we’re in our position to build capacity and to be able to serve the citizens of Wisconsin to the best that we
know we can. You use the resources of government to better people’s lives, but you do it in a very smart way. I don’t think any of us represent this need to expand
government in a way that is not efficient. But we do know that in order to provide quality services, you have to have that basic foundation. That’s one of the things
that we came in knowing that we had to do. We engaged all of our staff. “
In some ways, the enthusiasm that Crim and Trammell are giving to the staff is something that has also trickled down from above.