Stephen Malmberg’s journey so far has taken him from a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay band camp to the Smithsonian Institution to overseeing a $4 billion annual budget for New York City’s sewer and water services.
And he insists that the journey isn’t as far as it might seem.
Malmberg ’95, was visiting UW-Green Bay last week catching up with friends and some of his former professors. “What I learned in the courses that I took as an undergraduate has stayed with me, and a I attribute that to the faculty.”
A native of Ashland, Malmberg first became acquainted with UW-Green Bay as a trumpet player in summer band camps. He had a such a good time in those camps that he decided he would come to the University to study music.
Like so many students, once Malmberg arrived on campus he found his interests changing. After a brief hiatus away from school, he returned to UW-Green Bay with an interest in a career more as administrator than performer.
“As I took more and more courses in the area of public administration I found myself really impressed by the fact that instructors such as Dan Alesch, Denise Scheberle and David Littig really did want students to comprehend what they were teaching, but to also see that it was meaningful,” Malmberg said.
After graduating from UW-Green Bay, Malmberg enrolled at New York University to pursue a graduate degree in arts administration. Far from being daunted by a move from small-town Ashland and Green Bay, Malmberg found himself quite comfortable in the Big Apple. “As I was sitting in the classroom (at NYC) I realized that I had received a top-notch education at UW-Green Bay and I could more than hold my own,” he said.
During the next few years Malmberg moved into the area of arts administration working at Queens Museum in New York and the Smithsonian National Design Museum in Manhattan.
He enjoyed that field, but economic shifts made it prudent for Malmberg to change his focus. He returned to NYU to pursue a graduate degree in public administration with an emphasis in financial management and public finance.
After completing that program he considered a career on Wall Street, but was convinced by some of his instructors to join the New York City Office of Management and Budget.
Malmberg manages that department’s Environmental Protection Unit, which is primarily charged with overseeing the operation of the city’s sewer and water service. Not only do those utilities serve New York’s 8.5 million residents, but the millions who annually visit the nation’s largest city.
By the numbers, that is oversight of 6,200 employees, an annual operating budget of about $1 billion and capital budget of $3 billion. About 97 percent of his budget is devoted to providing those vital services to the city. In New York City alone there are more than 6,700 miles of water mains drawing from 19 upstate reservoirs and distributed through two massive underground tunnels; and 6,600 miles of sewer pipes sending waste to 14 treatment plants.
Malmberg is also heavily involved in a long-term $6 billion project to construct a third water tunnel that will serve New York City. He calls it the most sophisticated engineering project in the city’s history.
And so much of what Malmberg does can be traced to the classes he took in Wood Hall and Rose Hall.
“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t make use of the lessons that I learned at UW-Green Bay,” Malmberg said. “It was a marvelous learning experience.”