Office of the Secretary

Overview

The Executive Management Team of the Secretary's Office is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the agency. They also work closely with the Governor's Office and state agency heads to ensure the overall mission and vision of state government is carried out.

The Communications Office is responsible for coordinating messaging for the agency including responding to media requests and internal communications for the department.

The Office of Business Development works with business owners, trade associations, affiliated organizations and Chambers of Commerce throughout Wisconsin to ensure business has a seat at the table, advocate for business interests within government and present rule change recommendations to appropriate agency or the Legislature.

The Lean Government Program works to foster collaboration between agencies to help state government operate more efficiently and share resources.

Executive Management Team

Secretary - Joel Brennan

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 President & 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 science-based educational programs which were enjoyed by more than 325,000 families and students from throughout the area in 2018.

Under Brennan’s leadership, Discovery World turned multi-million dollar operating deficits into surpluses and eliminated millions in capital debt. In 2018, Discovery World completed a $13 million update that added more than 20,000 sq. ft. of new interactive space to the facility. During this time, Discovery World forged many strategic community partnerships and expanded its innovative educational programs to neighborhoods of need, including a Summer Camp program that brings more than 1,700 students to the lakefront for week-long camps in engineering, robotics, design, freshwater science and other disciplines.

Prior to leading Discovery World, Brennan served as the head of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority, where he directed real estate development and large impact economic development projects. Major successes during his tenure include the continued Menomonee Valley redevelopment, Manpower World Headquarters’ relocation to downtown Milwaukee, reconstruction of the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and redevelopment of the former Pabst Brewery site.

Brennan also served as Vice President of Development and Government Affairs for the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau (now Visit Milwaukee), working to attract businesses and visitors to Greater Milwaukee and mobilizing the tourism community, industry partners, and area residents. Early in his career, he also worked in government relations at the Miller Brewing Company. He brings a broad and diverse background to Wisconsin State Government.

Joel Brennan grew up in the Milwaukee area and worked his way through Marquette University, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English. 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. Brennan lives with his family in Milwaukee.​


Deputy Secretary - Chris Patton

Chris Patton was appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Administration on January 8, 2019.  Chris' previous government service includes serving as Chief of Staff to the Assembly ​Democratic Leader, Policy Director to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, Director of the Wisconsin Office of Recovery & Reinvestment and various roles within DOA's Division of Gaming. Additionally, Chris served as Administration Operations Director at Epic from ​2011—2017. 

Chris is currently a member of the Wisconsin Education Communications Board and the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board.  Previously, Chris served as a Board Member for the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society and the City of Madison Personnel Commission.  In addition, Chris served as a Staff Director for the National Governors Association, the Midwestern Governors Association and the Council of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers.

Originally from Green Bay, Chris lives in Verona with his wife and 2 children. Chris is a 1997 graduate of UW River Falls with his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Public Administration. 


​​Assistant Deputy Secretary - Tia Torhorst

Tia Torhorst was appointed Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department of Administration (DOA) in January 2019. Prior to joining DOA, she served as Deputy Transition Director for Governor Tony Evers. Her past professional experience includes working as Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Campaign Manager for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, and Director of Legislative Affairs for Milwaukee County. She has also worked in Washington, D.C. as the Outreach Manager for the National Partnership for Women & Families and as Associate Executive Director of the Milwaukee Bar Association. She has been named one of Milwaukee's Top 35 Emerging Leaders and a Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence. Torhorst is the Founder of the Shorewood Farmers Market.​

Torhorst lives in Shorewood. She has a bachelor's degree in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.