TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A former Wisconsin official has been appointed to lead a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional office covering six Midwestern states, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday.

Kurt Thiede will succeed Cathy Stepp, who announced her resignation Monday as chief of EPA's Region 5, based in Chicago.

Thiede served as chief of staff to Stepp, who oversaw EPA operations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Previously, Thiede spent 18 years with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and was deputy secretary from 2015-17.

"Kurt Thiede's commitment to public service and passion for the Great Lakes region make him an excellent choice to lead the Region 5 office," Wheeler said.

Stepp, a former Wisconsin DNR secretary, said in a letter to colleagues she was leaving Jan. 17 for a professional opportunity in Missouri.