You seem to have had an issue loading this page or you have javascript disabled, which may cause problems while using Change.org. To avoid any further inconvenience, please enable javascript in your browser and refresh this page.
Return Sue Black to her Milwaukee County Parks Director Position
  • Petitioned Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

This petition was delivered to:

Chris Abele
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Return Sue Black to her Milwaukee County Parks Director Position

    1. Renee Hestekin
    2. Petition by

      Renee Hestekin

      Kewaskum, WI

Sue Black has become the public face of the Milwaukee County Parks System for the last 10 years. She has made amazing accomplishments to the Parks system, like revitalizing the almost defunct Bradford Beach, which is now a a place for family fun, instead of a wasteland of garbage. Sue is not only important to Milwaukee County but also surrounding communities who travel to Milwaukee County to use the Parks System.

She has been a fierce advocate for her department, going head to head at times with important Milwaukee government officials. She was given a fair amount of freedom to find creative ways to refurbish the aging system, and used her immense powers of persuasion to garner private financial support for the parks and put in place a vision for saving them.
Black was hired in 2003 after stints running the state parks systems in Wisconsin and Arizona. Black has gotten high marks from Abele in the past, as well as from county supervisors, parks advocates and community leaders. She's been credited with helping shepherd upgrades of Bradford Beach, Lake Park, the Mitchell Park Domes and other more recent projects such as the opening of a beer garden at Estabrook Park this summer. She also helped establish off-leash dog exercise areas in five parks.

The Parks Department under Black's guidance won the national Gold Medal in 2009, which honors excellence in parks management. She also won the Norman Gill Award for individual excellence by a government leader this year from the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum.
Despite all these accomplishments, Sue was fired by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Thursday August 16th, 2012. Black said she was stunned when told by Abele during a regular weekly meeting with him that "we are going in another direction. We are letting you go."

She said Abele wouldn't tell her why he didn't want her at the helm of the Parks Department any longer. Abele said he did tell Black the reason for her termination, but he declined to publicly disclose that. Black's firing came just a few months after Abele nominated her to stay on for another four years.

She said she had no idea what was coming when Abele gave her the bad news.

"I said, 'Are you serious? I deserve better than this after 10 years,' " Black said in a phone interview. She said she was locked out of her office in Wauwatosa while she was at the courthouse meeting with Abele. Her county cellphone was cut off by late afternoon.

Abele has spoken glowingly of Black in the past and bucked critics on the County Board when he gave her two raises in 2011, saying she deserved them. During his 2011 campaign for county executive, Abele frequently singled out Black as a top-notch county department head who deserved more resources as reward for her success on the job.

Chris Abele's email address to send a direct message:  countyexec@milwcnty.com

Recent signatures


    1. Post Continued:

      Renee Hestekin
      Petition Organizer

      I love Milwaukee County, the parks I protected, the team I developed and the people of this great state.

      The betrayal has been heartbreaking. Some level of justice is being pursued.
      The support you have demonstrated means everything to me.

      Sue Black was fired from her post as Milwaukee County Parks Director on Thursday, August 16th. Now, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he’s begun a national search for a new Milwaukee County Parks Director.

      On Monday, Abele announced Jim Keegan will be the interim Milwaukee County Parks director until a replacement for Black can be found.

      Black’s former boss, Gov. Scott Walker discussed his decision to hire Black when he served as Milwaukee’s County Executive.

      “When I hired Sue Black about 10 years ago, she had a great record as a state parks director in Wisconsin and Arizona,” Gov. Walker said.

      Although he wouldn’t comment directly on the sudden firing, Gov. Walker credited Black as a person and a professional.

    2. Sue Black: “Betrayal has been heartbreaking” following firing

      Renee Hestekin
      Petition Organizer

      As Report by Fox6 News Milwaukee:

      MILWAUKEE — Former Milwaukee County Parks Director Sue Black released a statement on Tuesday, August 21st on her abrupt firing by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

      Black’s statement reads:

      I have always been open, honest and accessible and at some point in the near future I hope to be able to speak more freely.

      I have spent most of my adult life promoting and improving parks as a way to increase the social and economic impacts they have on our communities. As has been widely witnessed and reported, I have great passion for this world‐renowned park system. Our on‐going successes on behalf of this community have now been abruptly terminated and after years of dedicated service, I find it unbelievable to have been unceremoniously bounced from a calling I cherish.

      I love Milwaukee County, the parks I protected, the team I developed and the people of this great

    3. Reached 50 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Erin Prendergast WHITEFISH BAY, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      I have seen the Milwaukee County Parks System improve greatly in the past 10 years. She has been great for Milwaukee and should be able to continue her good work.

    • Lisa Pampel MILWAUKEE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      Sue Black worked miracles with the parks and little budget. Hail to the Queen!

    • Angela Kelley MILWAUKEE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      She's made do for our parks with very little money from the county.

    • Judy Pirelli-Wambach MILWAUKEE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      She has done an amazing job, doing more with less money (thanks pension scandal). She turned down a higher paying job because she was truly committed and loved her job.

    • Bradley Fisher MILWAUKEE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      I utilize and enjoy the parks system that Sue Black has worked so hard with the Parks Department to build into a nationally recognized, nationally awarded attraction.


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.