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Wisconsin State Fair names interim CEO/Executive Director

Shari Black
Posted at 4:51 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 17:51:24-04

WEST ALLIS — The Wisconsin State Fair Board announced Tuesday that Shari Black would be taking over as interim CEO and Executive Director, starting at the end of October.

The announcement was made by State Fair Park Board Chairman John Yingling, who said that “the board looks forward to working with her and the staff to continue the forward momentum we have seen at State Fair Park in recent years.”

Yingling is also selecting a committee of board members to conduct a search for the next CEO/Executive Director.

Black has been working in the fair industry for over 20 years. She served as the Executive Director of the Waukesha County Fair for more than 15 years, and began working at the State Fair in 2016 as the senior director of Event Services. Black said in a statement Tuesday that she was honored by the opportunity to lead the State Fair team.

“Together, we will continue the progress made by the board, Kathleen and staff by remaining focused on financial stability, safety and continually improving the experience for all visitors to Wisconsin State Fair Park,” she said.

The current CEO and Executive Director, Kahleen O’Leary, has been in the position since 2016, and had previously announced her intention to retire from the position at the end of October.

She has worked numerous management positions at the State Fair for 24 years, and was the first female to serve as the fair’s CEO and Executive Director. O’Leary has worked with Black for years, and is confident in the interim CEO.

“She brings extensive experience in both Fair and Non-Fair event management to the table. I wish her the best of luck and know she’ll do a great job leading the State Fair Park staff,” O'Leary stated.

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