County Executive Abele announces new Milwaukee County Parks director, chief of business services

MILWAUKEE -- There is a new parks director in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Wednesday, December 20th announced the appointment of Jim Sullivan to serve as the next director of Milwaukee County Parks.

According to a press release from Abele's office, Sullivan, who has since 2011 served as the director of Milwaukee County’s award-winning department of Child Support Services, will be joined in leadership at Milwaukee County Parks by James Tarantino, who currently serves as Milwaukee County’s director of economic development. Tarantino will serve as chief of business services for Milwaukee County Parks. The position has been vacant for several months, due to the retirement of a long-time employee.

Sullivan and Tarantino bring a combined three decades of innovative, collaborative public service leadership to Milwaukee County Parks, Abele's office said.

Guy Smith had been serving as interim parks director.

Sullivan and Tarantino will both begin in their new roles on January 2nd.

Below is some background information on Sullivan and Tarantino from Abele's office:

After being tapped by County Executive Abele to serve as director of Child Support Services, Sullivan transformed the department into a national best practice model, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from delinquent parents who had the ability to pay but didn’t, implementing new programs to help parents who wanted to meet their obligations but couldn’t, and connecting parents to supportive community resources such as peer mentoring, job training and placement, and driver’s license recovery. The department is the only Child Support Agency in the United States awarded a $10 million, 5 year, New Pathways for Fathers and Families grant from the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. All together, these efforts are empowering more parents to support and engage with their children, and helping more families live a better life.

Prior to working for the County, Sullivan represented Wauwatosa, West Allis, and Milwaukee first on the Wauwatosa City Council and then in the state senate.

James Tarantino has served as the director of Economic Development for Milwaukee County since 2015, managing the County’s real estate portfolio, completing the sale of the Park East, closing the Downtown Transit Center deal to support the Couture transit-oriented development, completing the St. Anthony’s-CCC supportive housing redevelopment, and managing the sale of the County’s tax foreclosures, surplus airline hangars, and brownfields. Through the construction of these projects, and initiatives implemented by Economic Development, Milwaukee County has helped to create thousands of good-paying jobs for Milwaukee County residents. Prior to joining the County, Tarantino managed two Business Associations, two Milwaukee Business Improvement Districts, a regional economic development initiative, and multiple non-profit organizations.