By Jeremy Ratliff
On Tuesday, May 26, Renee Krueger stepped into her new role as director of Lincoln County Social Services.
Following graduation from Merrill High School with the class of ’94, Krueger pursued a dual major in Criminal Justice/Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that following fall.
As the 39-year-old mother of two explains, her decision to pursue the field of social services had been made long before high school graduation.
“I have always wanted to work with children in some capacity,” she said. “I credit the late Bob Hartkopf who was a juvenile detective, and Jerry Wistein who was a treatment specialist at Lincoln Hills School, for helping develop my interest in the field. Jerry gave me a tour of LHS when I was in high school and Bob was one of my coaches in sixth grade basketball.
“Both men became mentors for me through sports and we had conversations about their full-time careers. The more I learned about this type of work, the more interested I became,” she added.
While attending school at UWM, Krueger interned with Milwaukee-based Pathfinders Inc., which provides services designed to protect youth and young adults, strengthen individuals and families, and improve the emotional and mental health of people at risk in the Milwaukee area community.
Upon graduation in 1997, Krueger followed the same path of her mentor Jerry Wistein, finding employment as a Youth Counselor at LHS. A year later she progressed into social work at the school.
Since then, Krueger has assembled a wealth of experience including social work at Stanley Medium Security Correctional Institution and family services work with Marathon County Department of Social Services.
Upon consolidation of juvenile correctional institutions in 2011, Krueger returned to LHS upon being selected for the position of Corrections Unit Supervisor.
As part of her duties, Krueger was responsible for the supervision of two living units at the school, including the Substance Use Disorder program (formerly known as AODA).
In 2012, Krueger spearheaded the implementation of Trauma Informed Care, an effort she is quite proud of and passionate about.
Krueger retained that position at LHS until her appointment as director of LCSS three weeks ago.
In looking to the future, Krueger is both excited and hopeful.
“I missed working with systems,” she said. “In the county system you are connected with other systems including the justice system, school systems, early childhood and health systems. Those systems then come together with various community partners to strengthen the community, and families within our community.
“I feel very fortunate for having previous career experience with the Department of Corrections and Marathon County Social Services. I am hoping that my knowledge, training, and previous career experience will cultivate communication and collaboration with staff and community partners, in providing services which will strengthen and enhance community safety.
“I’m very passionate about this area and promoting assets and opportunities Lincoln County is able to provide its residents,” Krueger added. “I have a lot to learn but I am ready and excited!”
*Current 4th, 5th, and 6th grade basketball coach.
*Freshman/Sophomore Basketball coach 1997-2003 more recently coached
*Current board member of Merrill fast pitch
*Maple Grove Charter School Governance Board member from 2012-2014