Todd's return reunites him with two loves
Outgoing, vibrant and witty, David Todd was one Milwaukeean you needed to know. That is, until he flew the coop and headed west to work in television in Los Angeles.
Before leaving, Todd worked for WITI-TV and WDJT-TV and did a lot of philanthropic work, too. In L.A., he worked for Fox Television and at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Orange County.
Now, he's back home in more ways than one. He's returned to his hometown, but also to the theater -- as managing director of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre -- which has been a love of his since his days in the theater program at Pius XI High School.
We asked Todd what led him away from Milwaukee, what led him back and whether or not he's here to stay now.
OMC: Why did you come back? Did you miss Milwaukee that much while you were gone?
DT: In January 2006, I decided to move back to Milwaukee. I didn't have a job lined up, but knew I had the ability to do whatever I would like to (on a) freelance (basis), and still be able to thrive in Milwaukee.
My decision to come back was twofold: I'm a Milwaukee guy and my friends and family are here. In fact, another of my best friends was in the process of making the same decision to return to Milwaukee from Seattle. She, too, wanted to be able to bring her talent and experiences back to her hometown and reconnect with what was happening in Milwaukee.
I frequently traveled back to Milwaukee and during those trips saw the wonderful metamorphosis that was happening to the city. Milwaukee was in bloom and it was happening all year round.
Secondly, I had left Milwaukee to work for the FOX Network and then the Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, both in high-level, high-profile positions and I learned a lot. So, when I had the ability to make my next move, I wanted to be able to bring that experience to a place that was important to me -- that's Milwaukee. I love working in non-profit because even on the worst of days, you know you're still doing something good in this world -- and that's truly my bliss. Give back, pay it forward.
OMC: What changed about the city while you were gone?
DT: I'm so impressed with the growth of Downtown, especially Milwaukee Street, the boom in the Third Ward and the development and investment the city/county were making in the Riverwalk area, Pier Wisconsin and the Menomonee Valley. When you grow up here, you notice when things are fading, but you also notice when things are booming. We're in an upswing and as a property owner here -- I maintained two rental properties while living in California -- I know that's good for Milwaukee and its residents.
OMC: What excites you most about the city these days?
DT: There's so much to do. I've officially been back about six weeks and I'm running myself ragged seeing and doing all the things that excite me. I'm dining out at Balzac, my new favorite wine bar, checking out all the new eateries in the Third Ward, attending fundraisers, shopping at Bayshore and, of course, seeing tons of theater.
OMC: Tell us about what your arrival means for Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
DT: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, too, has seen a resurgence of energy and popularity. I'm told by our board, theater patrons and anyone who's in the know, (that) much of it is due to our Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright.
From what I've seen in just the past few months, I couldn't agree more. I started working with Michael in August when the position of managing director was reinstated after a two-year vacancy. The board strategically looked at staff structure, growth at the box office and donor support realizing the need for a managing director to help take the theater to the next level. I was very excited to hear the position was open and jumped at the chance to be a part of Milwaukee's thriving performing arts community.
OMC: Would you consider leaving again if you got an offer you couldn't refuse? What kind of offer would it have to be?
DT: The only thing that would make me leave is opening my own business. My passion these days is wine. I fantasize about opening a small wine store someday and traveling to wine regions around the country to hand select the wines I sell. It's the only other thing that interests me right now and it's a family business, as well; my uncle owns The Market Basket in Brookfield.
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