Executive Leadership

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Secretary Cathy A. Jess

Cathy Jess is the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, overseeing roughly 10,000 employees throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Department of Corrections includes 36 adult correctional facilities, two juvenile correctional facilities, and 110 probation and parole units. DOC is charged with ensuring the safety and security of staff, youth, and offenders in DOC custody and providing community supervision to individuals on probation, parole, and extended supervision.

Jess previously served as Department Deputy Secretary from February 2016 to June 2018 and as Administrator of the Division of Adult Institutions from February 2011 until her appointment as Deputy Secretary.

Jess began at the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer at the Wisconsin Resource Center and has served in the following roles:

  • Warden at Dodge Correctional Institution;
  • Warden of the Wisconsin Women’s Correctional System;
  • Deputy Warden at Waupun Correctional Institution; and
  • Deputy Warden at Oshkosh Correctional Institution.

She has also worked as a Recreation Leader, Institution Complaint Examiner, Program Coordinator, and Corrections Unit Supervisor.

Jess earned a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.



Deputy Secretary Stephanie Hove

Stephanie Hove is the Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the agency. In her capacity as Deputy Secretary, she oversees approximately 10,000 employees, including staff at 36 adult correctional facilities, two juvenile correctional facilities, and 110 probation and parole units.

Hove previously served as the Administrator of the Division of Community Corrections from January 2018 until her appointment as Deputy Secretary in June 2018.

Hove began at the Department of Corrections as a Probation and Parole Agent in Region 1. She subsequently held roles as a Corrections Field Supervisor and Assistant Regional Chief.

More recently, she served as a Regional Chief for the Division of Juvenile Corrections, Director of the Office of Victim Services and Programs, and Assistant Administrator of the Division of Adult Institutions.

Hove earned a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and Law from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Assistant Deputy Secretary Karley Downing

Karley Downing is the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, responsible for budget coordination, overseeing policy analysis and research, and relations with external stakeholders.

Prior to her appointment, Downing served as the chief legal counsel for the Department of Transportation. She has also served as the chief legal counsel for the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and as legal counsel at the Department of Administration and in the Office of Governor Scott Walker.

Downing has a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in History from the University of St. Thomas and her Juris Doctor cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is admitted to practice law in the States of Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as the United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin.