Mark Nicolini (MA ’83) retired in September 2017 as the city of Milwaukee’s budget and management director, a position he had held since 2004. Throughout his career, he has shared his expertise with and provided guidance to dozens of La Follette School students.
Nicolini began his public service career with the State of Wisconsin in 1983, working as a budget analyst in the Department of Public Instruction and in the State Budget Office.
In May 1989, Nicolini moved to Milwaukee and worked in local government for nearly 30 years, starting as the City Council's fiscal research supervisor. From 1998 to 2004, he held a budget and strategic planning position with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.
As Milwaukee’s budget and management director, Nicolini oversaw development and implementation of the annual budget, management analysis of city operations, and development and analysis of fiscal policy and legislative proposals.
In a news release, Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy called Nicolini “a brilliant and thoughtful fiscal analyst whose quiet demeanor and class act have helped to shape and focus the future of Milwaukee for the better.”
Nicolini coordinated numerous client-based projects for the La Follette School’s Workshop in Public Affairs course, where students worked with the City of Milwaukee to solve real-life policy and management problems. He also has spoken with students in numerous courses, including public management, budgeting, and performance management.
In 2017, Nicolini was instrumental in the La Follette School’s first La Follette in Milwaukee career exploration program, welcoming students and staff to Milwaukee City Hall and leading a panel discussion with alumni and other City of Milwaukee policy professionals.
“Mark has been an incredible champion of the Wisconsin Idea and of the La Follette School’s role in making sure that good policy analysis is used,” said La Follette School Director and Professor Don Moynihan. “Mark’s career is an illustration of how good training and a desire to help the public can be merged to enable countless improvements in the quality of citizen’s lives.”
Since his retirement, Nicolini has been involved in adult literacy as a volunteer tutor as well as other community service activities. He also serves as a trustee on the City’s Annuity and Pension Board, which governs the City’s home rule pension plan.