Joel Brennan was selected as the Secretary of the Department of Administration by Governor Tony Evers and began his role on January 7th, 2019. Secretary Brennan brings 25 years of experience in and around public policy in Wisconsin to this role.
Joel Brennan served as Presdient & CEO of Discovery World from October 2007 through January 2019. Located on Milwaukee’s lakefront, Discovery World is Wisconsin’s premier science and technology center, providing interactive exhibits and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational programs for families and students in the region and the state of Wisconsin. In 2018, more than 325,000 visitors experienced Discovery World’s onsite and community educational programs.
Under Brennan’s leadership, Discovery World employed innovative tools and creative ideas to stabilize debt and build a sustainable long-term future. During his tenure, the organization turned multi-million operating deficits into operational surpluses and eliminated millions in capital debt from the original construction. In 2018, Discovery World completed a $13 million expansion and renovation project that added more than 20,000 sq. ft. of new interactive public space to the facility.
With guidance from Brennan and his leadership team, Discovery World developed important strategic community partnerships and expanded delivery of its innovative educational programs to neighborhoods of need in Milwaukee. The organization has received numerous awards for its innovative educational programming, especially for its Summer Camp program, which brings more than 1,700 students to the lakefront each summer for full-day, full-week camps in engineering, robotics, design, freshwater science or other disciplines.
Previously, Brennan served as the head of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM). In this capacity, Brennan directed real estate development and large impact economic development projects. Major RACM efforts during Brennan’s service included Menomonee Valley redevelopment, relocation of the Manpower World Headquarters to downtown Milwaukee, reconstruction of the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and redevelopment of the former Pabst Brewery.
Prior to assuming this economic development leadership position for the city, Brennan served as Vice President of Development and Government Affairs for the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau (now Visit Milwaukee). Brennan worked to attract businesses and visitors to Greater Milwaukee, helping foster regional economic development. In his efforts, Brennan also organized and mobilized the tourism community, industry partners, and area residents.
Brennan has managed several political campaigns in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, serving as the campaign manager for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s successful bid for the city’s highest office in April 2004.
Joel Brennan grew up in the Milwaukee area and worked his way through Marquette University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1992. He was selected as a Harris Fellow at the University of Chicago and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy in 1999. Joel Brennan lives with his wife Audra, daughter Allison (age 13) and son Conor (age 11) in the Brewers Hill neighborhood of Milwaukee.