Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced today he launching a national search to replace Black.
Multiple sources told BizTimes that Black was being "given the option to resign" today.
"Sue has been a strong steward for the Milwaukee County Parks system," Abele said in a prepared statement. "Her leadership has helped put us on a solid path as we move forward. I thank her for her years of service and wish her well in her future endeavors. "Residents should know I remain committed to making sure we have the best parks for everyone."
Abele declined to specify the reasons for Black's departure.
Later today in an interview, Abele said, "(The decision) was based on one thing. I can get better service."
Reached later today by cell phone, Black told BizTimes she was not given a reason for her dismissal.
"I can't really say anything. It's just shocking," Black said. "I don't think it was deserving. After 10 years, I deserve more. This is home. I love this place. I tried to make it a better place. I live and breathe it."
Black held the job for eight years.
With Black at the helm, the Milwaukee County Parks Department received the prestigious National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. She was named a 2012 professional fellow by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials. She received the Milwaukee Press Club's Headliner Award this year.
Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic released the following statement upon learning of Black's departure:
"First, I would like to thank Sue Black for her many years of devoted service to the Milwaukee County Parks and to the taxpayers of Milwaukee County. Black secured several national awards and accolades for the Parks that we all cherish, especially in our urbanized area. While I am sorry to see Black go, I recognize that such a personnel decision is solidly in the purview of County Executive Chris Abele. Black became the public face of the Milwaukee County Parks, and I thank her for her efforts to tell the Parks' story. I commend Black for her achievements in developing private-public partnerships and corporate sponsorships in the face of diminished public support.
"Black would most certainly be at the top of any national search for the director of a parks system, and I wish her the very best in her future endeavors. Additionally, I am disappointed in the timing of this situation, as the Milwaukee County Board prepares for delivery of the Milwaukee County Executive 2013 Recommended Budget. The absence of a Parks leader will certainly make it more difficult to respond to constituents who have voiced their support for Parks. I look forward to a report on how the Milwaukee County Executive's office plans to proceed on major Parks initiatives currently in the works."
Dan Cody, board president for The Park People of Milwaukee, an advocacy group for the county parks, issued the following statement:
"We have worked closely with Sue Black over the years and have always appreciated her intensity and commitment to the Milwaukee County Parks System. Sue and her staff have done a particularly good job of maintaining our parks when faced with year after year of budget cuts and have been recognized nationally for their innovation and leadership in parks and recreation. Through her leadership, there have been many improvements to our parks from the renaissance of Bradford Beach, concerts in the parks, Dog Exercise Areas and disc/Frisbee golf courses.
"Since 1982, when the County took over the Parks System, the budget for our parks is less than what it was when the County took it over in 1982. Sue was able to develop strong relationships with local businesses and community groups and partner to make things happen in our parks. We're still trying to understand the reason behind today's events regarding Director Black and await to hear more information from the County Executive regarding her replacement. We thank her for her years of public service and wish her well in her future endeavors. The Park People look forward to continuing our strong relationship with County leadership and staff at Milwaukee County Parks System."