Sue Black was appointed Director of Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture in 2003. She oversees more than 15,000 acres of the county gems known as “The Emerald Necklace” – bringing a quality of life to millions of visitors each year while preserving the legacy of the parks founders such as Charles Whitnall, Alfred Boerner, and renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
Under her leadership, the vast county park system has flourished. Offering diverse, year-round activities, the park system is the setting for educational, cultural and recreational programs in clean, safe, beautiful surroundings at 150 parks and parkways, nine outdoor pools, two indoor pools, three water parks, 200 athletic fields, 120 tennis courts, two band shells, the Wehr Nature Center, Mitchell Park Domes, Boerner Botanical Gardens, a 55,000-square-foot indoor Sports Complex, 15 golf courses, including Brown Deer -- a PGA Championship course and 16 miles of pristine lakefront property, which includes McKinley Marina, six beaches, two yacht clubs and a sailing center.
Black brings more than an impressive resume to the post. She has a life-long love of parks and recreational spaces. The county park system is the beneficiary of her knowledge and successful experiences in directing and operating parks. For six years, the Wisconsin State Park System thrived under her leadership. During that time, three new state parks were established along with the largest trail-acquisition in state history -- placing Wisconsin as the national leader in rail-to-trail miles.
Previously, Black managed Arizona State Parks, the Dane County Parks Department and was the Director of Parks and Recreation for the cities of Portage and Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Her achievements have been recognized time and again, as three park systems under her leadership have finished as a top four finalist in the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, most recently the Milwaukee County Parks in 2009. Sue was honored to accept the Grand Award for Class I parks in Salt Lake City in October for the best-managed park system in the country. In addition, Black was honored by the American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration with the ROSE award, Recognition of Significant Efforts, and was inducted into the prestigious American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. In 2000, the State Park Rangers presented her with the Centennial Badge in recognition of her outstanding support, leadership and dedication to quality programs and emphasis on the customer.
Her dedicated leadership and clear vision has wrought notable accomplishments for the park system and valuable services for millions of visitors each year. Sue is unique in that she has known since she was 16-years old what she wanted to do for a living. Her life, her passion, and her commitment are parks and recreation, that, and ensuring each system she leads is left in better condition than she found it.