Kocer an example of successful leadership

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Aug. 28, 2020, will be a big day for Lisa Kocer.

She will retire after six years as the Director of Health and Human Services, the largest department of Mower County government, on the very day of the 35th anniversary of her becoming a nurse.

Lisa grew up in Wabasha and greatly admired a nurse who was a friend of her mother. Further insight into nursing came from working as a nurse’s aid and having a doctor let her accompany him on rounds.

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As a young person, she also loved numbers and her family thought she would either become an accountant or a nurse.  Nursing won out and she graduated from the College of St. Teresa in public health nursing. Of course, her interest in accounting is an asset for her current administrative work.

Lisa Kocer

Being Director of Health and Human Services involves leadership of this very large department in many areas. Many of us are unaware that these tasks fall under just one administrator. It is clear that Lisa is a very skilled person to keep track of everything! She supervises the following departments:

• Mower County HHS Administration

• Accounting Services

• Office Services

• Community Health Services

• Child Support Services

• Financial Assistance Services

• Adult and Waiver Services

• Child and Family Services

Lisa speaks with great pride in her management team of 10 who work to support many of the most vulnerable among us. Mower County Health and Human Services employs a staff of 97 who are dedicated to their job and work hard to support all Mower County residents. Lisa feels they are the true heroes as she works with them every day. Her job involves overseeing grants, the budgeting processes, and program administration, and she is also the department’s representative who interacts with the state and regional county boards.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to Lisa’s department. She is glad for her experience during the H1N1 pandemic of 10 years ago when she was Public Health Department Supervisor. Much work concerning the pandemic is on-going, educating the public about Covid19 through the use of electronic billboards, giving advice on prevention procedures to businesses, schools, and the religious communities, senior centers, etc., providing testing, and approving plans for safe reopening rules.

When asked about mentors that have inspired her, Lisa mentions her parents who taught her a strong work ethic and her husband, Steve, who has spent his life in giving time and talent to the causes he believes in.

Lisa said Craig Oscarson taught her the role of county government and encouraged her to move into positions of more responsibility. Her leadership advice to others is “to treat people like you want to be treated, with respect. Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

These words of wisdom have served her well in gaining the trust of the county board. Jeff Baldus, Chairman of the Mower County Board of Commissioners, said: “Lisa has done a fabulous job of leading our biggest department here in Mower County. She always has a smile and is so capable of explaining things in layman terms when questions are asked of her. From my time on the board I know that all the commissioners respect her and trust the many decisions she makes on a daily basis. Lisa always does her research and due diligence in making recommendations to the board.”

It is clear that Lisa’s warm, compassionate, but no-nonsense approach, which no doubt served her well as a public health nurse, has made her a successful county government leader, as well.  And we all benefit one way or another from having a strong Health and Human Services Department. Thank you, Lisa Kocer, for your service, and congratulations on your retirement!

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  sue.grove@riverland.edu  or Carolyn Bogott  csbogott@charter.net.

The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.