Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. Announces Executive Staffing Changes Pancheri elevated to Chief Operating Officer and Littell becomes Vice President

MILWAUKEE, WI (December 11, 2019) – Don Smiley, President & CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.(MWF) announced changes in the organization’s executive staff, including the promotion of Sarah Pancheri to Chief Operating Officer, Gaye Littell to Vice President - Executive Producer, and Molly Madonia to Associate Counsel. These changes are effective immediately.

Sarah Pancheri has served as Vice President of Sales & Marketing since December 2015, overseeing sponsorship sales, corporate relations, as well as marketing, media partnerships and public relations. In her new role, Pancheri will continue to manage sales and marketing while gaining operational responsibilities, including management of Henry Maier Park and the season-long calendar of events. In 2020, this will include an increased calendar of concerts given the opening of the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater, a $53 million capital project.  Pancheri comes to this role with extensive event experience, having served on the MWF staff from 2000 – 2007 before returning in 2015.

In addition, Gaye Littell was elevated to Vice President & Executive Producer.  Littell has over 30 years of experience in event planning, production and brand partnerships having served as an in-house event manager for the Harley-Davidson 90th and 95th Anniversary Celebrations as well as co-owner in Open Road Events, a full service event company. In her most recent role with MWF, Littell has led the production of Summerfest and other events taking place at Henry Maier Festival Park.  Going forward, Littell will serve on the company’s executive team, supporting further excellence in event coordination and production.

Within the organization’s Legal Department, Molly Madonia was promoted to become Associate Counsel.  A graduate of Marquette University Law School, Molly has been with MWF for four years, and is responsible for managing the company’s trademark portfolio; assisting the human resources department; and drafting and negotiating contracts related to sponsorship, exhibitors, and marketplace vendors.  In her new role, Madonia will assume additional responsibilities for management and training within the human resources department and expanding the scope of her involvement in contractual matters.

“As we look to an exciting year ahead, I am thrilled to announce the promotion of these capable executives to drive growth of our organization and continue Summerfest’s legacy within the community” said Don Smiley, President & CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. “After working with these individuals for many years, I can attest they have the expertise, passion and commitment to ensure Henry Maier Festival Park remains a world-class destination which helps put Milwaukee on the map.”

About Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is an independent, private 501(c)(3) corporation founded in 1965 that produces Summerfest, presented by American Family Insurance, an 11-day festival that generates approximately $187 million in economic impact for the community each year.  Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. also maintains and improves Henry Maier Festival Park, located on 75 acres on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  In addition to Summerfest, Henry Maier Festival Park hosts a variety of ethnic and cultural festivals, concerts, walks, runs, and other special events, attracting nearly 1.3 million people.  The mission of the organization is to promote an understanding of different ethnic cultures, the histories and traditions of various nationalities, harmony in the community, civic pride and provide a showcase for performing arts, activities and recreation for the public and employment opportunities for the youth of the community. For more details, visit,, Twitter: @Summerfest or Instagram: @Summerfest.