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Wisconsin State Fair Park Announces Exciting Leadership Changes

Thu, May 02, 2019 5:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

WEST ALLIS, Wis. – April 30, 2019 – Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO Kathleen O’Leary is excited to announce the promotion of several employees as part of a re-organization that creates more clearly defined divisions within the organization, each overseen by a Chief Officer. The divisions include Finance, Marketing, Operations, Police & Public Safety and State Fair Programming.

“I am humbled by the incredible talent of the Wisconsin State Fair Park staff,” said Kathleen O’Leary, Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO. “When I became CEO, it was my vision to create a newly organized structure that streamlined management while offering advancement opportunities and empowerment to the entire staff.”

Shari Black has been named Chief Programs Officer, overseeing the State Fair Programming Division. Black was hired at State Fair Park in 2016 as the Senior Director of Event Services, focusing on non-fair events as well as SpinCity, the State Fair’s Amusement Ride and Game area. In her new position she will serve a key role in the strategic planning and success of the annual Wisconsin State Fair, including management of Attractions & Rides, Agriculture, Competitive Exhibits, Entertainment, Guest Relations, and Vendor Services. Black served on the board of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs for six years, and as president in 2016. She currently serves on the International Association of Fairs (IAFE) Foundation Board of Trustees and the West Allis Business Improvement District Board. Prior to joining the team at State Fair Park, she was the director of the Waukesha County Fair for 15 years and has a degree in Communication and Business Administration from Carroll University.

Chris Kowieski has been named Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the Operations Division. Kowieski joined the State Fair Park staff 24 years ago as a facilities laborer, working his way up to a Facilities Shift Supervisor before his career took a different path. He is proud to have worked for 10 years as a high school Social Studies teacher and served as a United States Army Reservist for eight years. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Five years ago, he returned to State Fair Park as the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, moving up to Director of Facility Services. In this new role Kowieski will oversee Facilities, Event Services, Transportation, Gates and Parking. He has a B.A. in Secondary Education from UW-Eau Claire and M.S. in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee.

Jen Puente has been named Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the Marketing Division. Puente has worked at State Fair Park for nearly 15 years in various sponsorship and marketing roles, most recently serving as Director of Marketing & Partnerships since 2016. She has grown sponsorship revenues significantly year-over-year and has managed an impressive 85 percent sponsor retention rate average each year. She was instrumental in securing the fair’s first ever presenting sponsor, U.S. Cellular, in 2006. Puente is a former chair of the IAFE YPI (Young Peoples Initiative) committee, teaches sponsorship training courses for the IAFE and currently serves on the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In her new position, Puente will oversee Advertising, Sponsorship, Marketing Communications, Creative Services and Group Sales. She has a B.A. in Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis from UW-Eau Claire.

Jaime Kwiatkowski has been named Director of Entertainment, Events & Guest Relations, serving within the State Fair Programming Division. She will book entertainment for the Main Stage presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and several other stages and events during State Fair, as well as oversee the Guest Relations Department. Kwiatkowski first began working at State Fair Park in 1999 in the special events department and was promoted to Entertainment Director in 2002, a position she held through 2006. She returned to State Fair Park in 2012 to manage the newly created Group Sales Department and Guest Relations, increasing group ticket sales 170 percent since the first year of the program. Kwiatkowski has degrees in both Mass Communication and Communication from UW-Milwaukee.

State Fair Park’s Finance Division will continue to be led by current Chief Financial Officer Timothy Miles. Miles has been with State Fair Park for two years. Prior to this position he worked in Public Accounting, auditing state and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations. He then worked in Higher Education before being hired as WSFP Controller and being promoted to CFO.

The Police & Public Safety Division will continue to be led by Chief James Bruno. Bruno has served as the Chief of Police for State Fair Park since 2013. He has been a member of the State Fair Park Police Department for 18 years and formerly served in the City of Greenfield Police Department, beginning in 1979.

Kathleen O’Leary and Steve Reinhardt will oversee all State Fair Park divisions. O’Leary has officially served as CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park since October 2016. She has worked for Wisconsin State Fair Park for 22 years in various positions, including Interim CEO, Chief Operations Officer and Director of Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship.

Steve Reinhardt will continue to serve as Deputy Executive Director, a role he has held for two years. Reinhardt has 18 years of experience at State Fair Park having formerly served as Chief Services Officer, as well as Director of Vendor Services.

Wisconsin State Fair Park is a year-round entertainment venue hosting hundreds of events and meetings annually throughout the four seasons, including the annual Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular. It is home to the Exposition Center, Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center, Milwaukee Mile Speedway, Wisconsin Products Pavilion and many other facilities.

Welcoming an average of one million guests each year, the Wisconsin State Fair offers a unique experience to all who attend. Featuring Wisconsin’s largest agriculture showcase, 30 FREE entertainment stages, exciting rides and games in SpinCity, countless family-friendly activities and food galore, the fair is a tradition that can’t be missed. The 2019 fair will take place Thursday, Aug. 1 – Sunday, Aug. 11, For the most up-to-date information, visit WiStateFair.com  or join the conversation on Facebook Twitter ,Instagram Pinterest YouTube  and Snapchat .

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