Recruitment #1902-5794-001


As a member of the Mayor’s Cabinet, the Commissioner-Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Mayor; the appointment of the Commissioner–DNS requires confirmation by the Common Council.


Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is an urban hub bursting with energy. Milwaukee provides a casual sophistication – big city appeal without the big-city hassles. We are accessible and affordable, and our residents are welcoming. Milwaukee brings together its unsurpassed old world charm with a breathtaking art museum, top-flight arts and cultural attractions, professional sports, lakefront festivals, recreational opportunities and great restaurants.


The Position 

The City of Milwaukee invites candidates with a record of leadership and innovation in urban development, building inspection or construction, code enforcement and/or neighborhood redevelopment to apply for this exceptional, executive-level opportunity.  The Commissioner-DNS will continue to lead the implementation of innovative solutions to build and maintain vibrant and healthy neighborhoods by improving building safety and by increasing investment and economic vitality throughout the City.  

The Department

With an annual operating budget of over 20 million dollars, the DNS is responsible for enhancing neighborhood appearance by improving city cleanliness, abating nuisance properties, and leveraging private investment in neighborhoods. The DNS supports neighborhood improvements by enforcing standards for buildings, property and land use. The department uses its enforcement, financial, and educational resources to encourage investment in housing and other buildings in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. Various inspection and enforcement activities ensure compliance with building and property codes, supporting an attractive investment environment and fostering reinvestment into neighborhoods.

The DNS employs approximately 240 individuals within seven divisions: Plan Examination and Permitting, Construction Trades, Commercial Inspection, Residential Inspection, Special Enforcement, Court and Support Services.  The Commissioner–DNS staffs the Standards and Appeals Commission.  

Current Initiatives

The Commissioner will have the opportunity to lead a team that plays a key role in transforming the City’s landscape, including the following:

  • BMO Harris Tower - A large, modern office tower project in the heart of the downtown governmental, entertainment and business district.      
  • The Couture – A proposed 44-story skyscraper designed to serve as a key thoroughfare connecting the lakefront and cultural amenities with the downtown area. The project includes public plazas and parks, pedestrian bridges, and a new lakefront stop for the streetcar.        
  • Lakefront Gateway Project – A proposed transformational project that will include a new public plaza linking downtown to the attractions at the lakefront.  

For more information about the DNS, please visit For budget information, including mission, strategic issues, initiatives, objectives, and outcomes for 2019, visit:, pp. 119-124.

Essential Functions

  • Standards and Strategic Leadership: Provide direction and policy guidance; establish and enforce accountability mechanisms for all divisions in the DNS.  Lead the DNS in organizational and strategic planning and monitor progress and informatics toward strategic goals.  Lead efforts relative to assessing enforcement and revitalization needs, developing policy and ensuring public/private collaboration to advance initiatives.
  • Compliance and Accountability: Direct the full cycle of development, including plan review, permit issuance, inspection, and occupancy issuance. Evaluate and ensure efficient and equitable implementation and administration of a wide variety of enforcement programs. Ensure complaints and concerns are addressed in a timely manner.  
  • Management of Leadership Team: Direct staff in all matters, including those involving personnel, budgeting, public relations and inspection.  Coach, support, and assess managers to help them achieve organizational and professional improvement goals; identify and implement measures of success and accountability. Create and promote leadership development and succession planning opportunities.  Continuously monitor organizational climate to ensure accountability for processes and outcomes.  
  • Community Engagement and Collaboration: Communicate regularly and responsively with managers, staff, policy makers and other stakeholders, including community groups, the Milwaukee Police Department, realtors, alderpersons, and landlords.  Ensure access and accountability for DNS functions and services.  Serve as the primary spokesperson for the DNS or identify other subject matter experts for that role, based upon the topic.  
  • Customer Service: Continue to uphold the department’s commitment to providing outstanding customer service, including clear and timely communication with constituents, customers, elected officials and community representatives; facilitate and foster an environment of clarity and trust.

Reasonable accommodations requested by qualified individuals with disabilities will be made in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008.

Minimum Requirements

1) Bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, building construction, urban planning or a closely related field from an accredited college or university.

2) Five years of management experience in architecture, building construction, code enforcement, urban planning, urban redevelopment and/or a closely related field.  Management experience must include strategic planning, development of programming and budgets, supervision of staff and creation and implementation of policies and procedures.

Equivalent combinations of education and experience may also be considered.

IMPORTANT NOTE: College transcripts are required and must be emailed as an attachment to by the closing date and time. Student/unofficial copies are acceptable; however, your transcript must be legible and include your college/university name, your name, the degree completed and the date completed.

Knowledges, Skills, Abilities & Other Characteristics

Technical knowledge

  • Knowledge of the development cycle.
  • Ability to interpret and recommend changes to codes governing all aspects of commercial and residential building construction.
  • Ability to apply practical solutions to complex building code situations.        
  • An understanding of the issues facing urban communities and how to determine and implement effective tangible solutions.
  • Knowledge of the capabilities of information technology to transform and enhance related operations and services.   
  • Ability to read and understand complex documents such as laws, policies, and technical publications.

Leadership skills

  • Ability to be proactive, collaborative, and have a vision to bring interested parties together to improve Milwaukee.      
  • Strong executive leadership and managerial skills.    
  • Ability to provide operational oversight in the areas of strategic planning, budgeting, communications, organizational performance, finance, contracts, resource allocation, customer service and safety.
  • Vision, imagination, initiative, passion, and flexibility. 
  • Ability to build a diverse and culturally inclusive organization.
  • Ability to bring teams together to meet the objectives of the community and department.      
  • Ability to provide responsible stewardship of City resources and to represent the City of Milwaukee professionally and ethically.

Communication and interpersonal skills      

  • Excellent oral communication skills, interpersonal ability, and political acumen to be able to work collaboratively with colleagues and elected officials, professionals, contractors, community groups and the public.     
  • Ability to effectively represent the department before public bodies and the media.    
  • Superior written communication skills to compose well-crafted policies, narratives, reports, articles, presentations, and correspondence.
  • Critical thinking and planning skills.       
  • Ability to analyze and solve complex problems.       
  • Decision-making skills and sound judgment.      
  • Organizational and planning skills to be able to effectively oversee workflow. processes and to manage competing priorities and challenges under pressure.

Current Salary

The current salary range for City of Milwaukee residents is $110,689 - $147,335 annually and the non-resident salary range is $107,973 - $143,721 annually.  Appointment above the minimum is possible based upon level of experience and other qualifications and is subject to approval.  

The City of Milwaukee provides a comprehensive benefit program that includes the following:

  • Defined Benefit Pension Plan       
  • 457 Deferred Compensation Plan     
  • Health and Dental Insurance       
  • Comprehensive Wellness Program        
  • Onsite Clinic Services       
  • Onsite Employee Assistance Program       
  • Alternative Work Schedules        
  • Long Term Disability Insurance     
  • Group Life Insurance     
  • Tuition Benefits      
  • Paid Vacation        
  •  11 Paid Holidays        
  • Paid Sick Leave and other paid leaves
  • Flexible Spending Arrangement       
  • Commuter Value Pass

For full details of the benefits offered by the City of Milwaukee, please visit

Selection Process

Screening for this position will be based on an evaluation of each applicant’s education, experience, and professional accomplishments, which should be detailed in a cover letter and resume.

Please email a cover letter and resume by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2019 to Please indicate “Commissioner–Department of Neighborhood Services” in the subject line.  Questions relative to the selection process may be directed to Kristin Hennessy Urban at 414.286.8643.

The City of Milwaukee reserves the right to invite only the most qualified applicants to participate in the selection process.

INITIAL FILING DATE: The selection process will be conducted as soon as practical after March 8, 2019. Receipt of application materials may be discontinued at any time after this date without prior notice. However, recruitment may continue until the needs of the City have been met. The applicant is responsible for attending all phases of the job selection process at the time and place designated by the City of Milwaukee.


The City of Milwaukee values and encourages diversity and is an equal opportunity employer.