DCF Leadership Team

Secretary Emilie Amundson

Headshot of Secretary Emilie Amundson

Appointed by Governor Tony Evers in January 2019 and confirmed by the Senate in February 2021, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson is responsible for statewide and county administered programs that assist children and families, including child welfare, early care and education, and child support.

Since joining DCF, Secretary Amundson has successfully led the department in transforming the state’s child welfare system; stabilizing and growing the early care and education field; and building stronger, innovative partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels.

Prior to her appointment to DCF, Secretary Amundson served as the chief of staff at the Department of Public Instruction where she advanced multiple statewide and cross-agency efforts related to K-12 public education.  

Secretary Amundson received her undergraduate degree from UW-Madison, her Master of Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education and has completed coursework toward a Ph.D. in Literacy Studies at UW-Madison. She is the proud spouse of a teacher and the proud mom of two elementary school-aged children. 

Deputy Secretary Jeff Pertl

Headshot of Deputy Secretary Jeff Pertl

Deputy Secretary Jeff Pertl, spent the last decade as the Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Public Instruction, working on issues around early childhood education, school finance, and closing the achievement gap. He was the liaison to the Department Children and Families and in that role worked collaboratively on early childhood and family policy issues.

Jeff was as a long-time county supervisor and possesses a wealth of experience in local government financial, personnel, and human services issues. Additionally, he served for several years on the Wisconsin Counties Association board of directors, working on statewide issues like youth justice reform, child welfare funding, and early childhood education access.

As a child of divorced parents, Jeff experienced firsthand the vital role child support has in creating a positive, stable family environment. As an adult, he and his wife have been licensed foster parents and their two boys, Marcus and Matthew, were adopted at birth in Wisconsin.

Assistant Secretary Nadya Perez-Reyes

Headshot of Assistant Secretary Nadya Perez-Reyes

Nadya Pérez-Reyes previously worked as an attorney with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Juvenile and Mental Health Office, where she represented children in delinquency, waiver, children in need of protection or services (CHIPS), juvenile in need of protection or services (JIPS) proceedings and parents in termination of parental rights (TPR) cases.  Nadya also worked in the State Public Defender’s Washington and Ozaukee County Trial offices, representing both adults and children. Before joining the Wisconsin State Public Defender, she worked at Legal Action of Wisconsin and the Government Accountability Board (now the State Elections Board).

Nadya has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, Spanish Language and Literature, and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; a Master of Arts in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies with an emphasis on the African Diaspora; and a Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nadya loves to travel and on her last trip ventured to Japan and Thailand.

Senior Manager Margaret McMahon

Headshot of Senior Manager Margaret McMahon

Margaret McMahon is a proud Wisconsin civil servant whose 28-year career has spanned five governors and five state agencies. Throughout her career, she has worked to improve the lives of Wisconsinites across the state by developing and implementing human service programs. At the Department of Children and Families, Margaret has developed policies and programs that include initiatives funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. She was instrumental in implementing Wisconsin Works, the nationally recognized work program that replaced welfare. For the past year, as the Senior Policy Initiatives Advisor in the Office of the Secretary, Margaret has expanded her portfolio to include child welfare, early care and education, and broader workforce programs as well as leading the effort to connect the dots around how our programs impact Wisconsin families’ economic mobility. Prior to joining the Secretary’s office, Margaret was Director of the DCF Bureau of Working Families, Division of Family and Economic Security. As director, she set the strategic vision and championed internal organizational initiatives designed to make BWF a best place to work

Margaret is a member of the American Public Human Services Association/National Association of State TANF Administrators (NASTA) and is an appointed member of the NASTA Executive Advisory Committee. She has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida, is a Certified Public Manager, and she has her Project Management Certificate from UW-Milwaukee. Margaret is a proud parent to two daughters and puppy named Hope. 

Chief Legal Counsel Therese Durkin

Headshot of Therese Durkin

Attorney Therese Durkin is currently serving as the Chief Legal Counsel in the Office of Legal Counsel.  Attorney Durkin brings numerous years of legal experience within state government agencies. Therese previously served as a staff attorney for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and more recently for DCF, where she focused her area of practice on the state’s child welfare programs, and also advised on a variety of other areas, including data sharing, federal funding, legislation and tribal affairs. Therese has lectured on a wide range of child welfare issues throughout Wisconsin and presented numerous sessions at national conferences. She is a past Chair of the Wisconsin State Bar Children and the Law Section and member of the American Association of Human Services Attorneys’ Executive Committee. Therese received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Legislative Advisor Amanda Merkwae

Amanda Merkwae previously worked as an attorney with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Juvenile and Mental Health Office representing young people in delinquency, children in need of protection or services (CHIPS), juvenile in need of protection or services (JIPS) proceedings and parents in termination of parental rights (TPR) cases. Prior to that she represented students in school discipline and special education matters at Legal Action of Wisconsin as a Skadden Fellow. Before practicing law, Amanda taught middle school social studies and math in Milwaukee. She holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan and a M.Ed. from Marquette University. Amanda’s hobbies include playing music with her partner Chris, snuggling with her dog Olive, and fighting to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Director of the Office of the Inspector General Michelle Flood 

Headshot of Michelle Flood

Michelle Flood brings fifteen years of accounting, auditing, budget and financial management experience to her role as Director of the Office of the Inspector General. Prior to beginning her career in civil service Michelle worked in the private sector as an accounting manager for a public relations firm and also as a controller for a mid-size manufacturing company. She began government service in 2013 as a grant accountant for Dane County Human Services where she provided financial expertise and programmatic/contracting support for adult community services and economic assistance programs. She went from county to state government accepting the role of auditor-advanced in the DCF Fiscal Integrity and Audit Section (FIAS) before transitioning to The Department of Health Services (DHS) where she worked as the lead budget and policy analyst – advanced within The Division of Public Health, Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources (BADR). At DHS Michelle provided leadership to the fiscal and grant management activities of several program managers who administer and oversee multiple federally authorized and funded aging and disability program services. She provided cross-office leadership in the design, implementation and evaluation of effectiveness of contracting and payment practices for WI Area Agencies of Aging and County and Tribal aging units in all 72 counties and 11 tribes. Michelle returned to DCF in early 2020 accepting the role as OIG section manager. 

Michelle holds a bachelor degree in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM). She currently lives in Sun Prairie with her husband of over 20 years, their two children, two cats and one dog. In her free time Michelle sings in several music groups at her church, in the community, and enjoys playing the piano and painting.