Interim State Fair Park CEO to fill position permanently

Kathleen O'Leary.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

The Wisconsin State Fair Park board of directors has selected interim chief executive officer Kathleen O’Leary to oversee the fair grounds permanently.

Kathleen O'Leary.

The board announced its decision in a statement released Monday night.

O’Leary, previously chief operating officer of the fair, took over as interim CEO in May after former State Fair chief Rick Frenette was fired amid allegations he violated the rules and regulations of the Wisconsin Department of Administration while submitting a request for merit pay increases for 30 executive employees, including himself.

O’Leary has worked for Wisconsin State Fair Park for nearly 20 years in multiple positions. Prior to becoming COO, she worked as a manager and director in the fair’s Marketing, Communications and Sponsorship departments.

She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“Kathleen has extensive experience managing all aspects of Wisconsin State Fair Park, as well as the annual Wisconsin State Fair,” said John Yingling, chairman of the Wisconsin State Fair Park board. “She has a proven track record in terms of budgeting, staffing, sponsorship, marketing and board governance. Kathleen is very well-respected, not only within the organization, but also in the community and the fair industry. The board looks forward to working with her and the entire staff to continue the success of State Fair Park.”

O’Leary will oversee the State Fair Park’s staff of 50 permanent, full-time employees and roughly 1,500 part-time and seasonal employees.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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