WAUSAU – The Marathon County Historical Society announced this week its new executive director, Blake Opal-Wahoske.

Opal-Wahoske will assume his role effective April 30. He succeeds Mary Forer, who will retire at the end of April.

Forer has served as executive director of the society since January 2006. 

During her tenure, the Marathon County Historical Society won several state-wide awards, including the Historic Preservation Award for the restoration of the Yawkey House Museum, the Wisconsin History Website Award for marathoncountyhistory.org, the Museum Exhibits Award for Our Stories: the History of Marathon County, and the 2023 Reuben Gold Thwaites Trophy for Local History, awarded for continued excellence and overall services to its community.

Opal-Wahoske is an experienced nonprofit leader. At the Wausau River District, where he served as the executive director for the last five years, he promoted and facilitated downtown Wausau’s economic vitality and historic preservation. 

He supported programs designed to have an economic impact, implemented projects that strengthened connections between people and place, and advocated for policy changes to remove barriers for businesses. 

Under his leadership, the organization was recognized with numerous awards, including the national Great American Main Street award, 15 Wisconsin Main Street awards, and received the local Small Business of the Year award from the Central Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.