As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, County Executive David Crowley intimately understands the “tale of two counties” which exists within Milwaukee County. He has experienced both the struggles and the joys that shape the communities he serves. The guiding principle of Crowley's administration is to build bridges to unite people, rather than walls which divide them.
Raised in Milwaukee's 53206 neighborhood, David understood hardship from a young age. His family moved frequently, often due to evictions, and he lived with family members who struggled with mental illness and drug addiction. These experiences deeply inform his approach to public service today.
David attributes Urban Underground, a Milwaukee Youth Organization, with saving his life. It provided him with a supportive community and steered him towards giving back. As a high school student, David served as a community justice coordinator with Urban Underground. After graduating, he joined AmeriCorps and collaborated with several other community organizations, including Project Return, Safe & Sound Inc., and COA Youth and Family Centers. He then worked on U.S. Senator Russ Feingold's campaign in 2010 and served as a legislative aide for both the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and the Wisconsin State Senate, gaining a deep understanding of how our state, local, and federal governments work.
Inspired by the public servants around him, David decided to run for office and was elected to represent the 17th Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. During his two terms, he served on various committees and was the Chair of both the Milwaukee Delegation and the Black and Latino Caucus. He also sat on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and Outreach Community Health Centers (OCHC).
On April 7, 2020, David made history by becoming the first Black person elected as Milwaukee County Executive. He was sworn into office on May 4, amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, he has implemented a strategic plan aimed at transforming Milwaukee County into Wisconsin's healthiest county. This plan focuses on achieving racial equity, fostering intentional inclusion, eliminating health disparities, and making real investments in equity.
Under Crowley's leadership, Milwaukee County navigated the pandemic by effectively allocating federal CARES Act funds towards public health, eviction prevention, aid for small businesses, and Milwaukee County mental health services. He also implemented a nationally-recognized pandemic dashboard that was the first in the nation to track COVID-19 data by race and ethnicity.
Crowley oversaw the transformation of Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Services, saving the county $9 million annually by transitioning to a community-based approach, and opening the county’s first Mental Health Emergency Center. Under Crowley's leadership, Milwaukee County achieved the nation's lowest rates of unsheltered and unhoused individuals in both 2021 and 2022, effectively ending chronic homelessness in the county.
In 2021, David collaborated with state and federal officials to launch the East-West Bus Rapid Transit Line. Becoming operational in the summer of 2023, this nine-mile route enhances public transportation across Milwaukee County with dedicated bus lanes, optimized stations, and more frequent service, particularly in lower-income communities.
David is a graduate of Bay View High School in Milwaukee and currently attends The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he has gone back to finish his degree. He resides on the Northwest side of Milwaukee with his wife, Ericka, and their three daughters.