Ismael Ozanne is a lifelong resident of Madison, Wisconsin. He attended St. James elementary and middle school and graduated from Madison West High School in 1989. He earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Political Science and graduated from UW Madison in 1994. While an undergrad, he played varsity soccer for the Badgers men’s soccer team, worked as an Assembly Page for the Wisconsin State Legislature, and staffed the Joint Committee on Finance. During summers, he was a tutor at Madison East High School for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s summer school program.
Ozanne received his Juris Doctorate from the UW Madison Law School in 1998. While in law school, he interned with the Legal Assistance for Institutionalized Persons (LAIP) at the Oxford Federal Prison, the Appellate Project (the start of the Innocence Project of today), and the Prosecution Project, which placed him in the Dane County District Attorney's Office.
In the summer of 1998, Ozanne was hired as an Assistant District Attorney by DA Diane Nicks. Ozanne has prosecuted cases ranging from civil traffic OWI 1st to First Degree Intentional Homicides. He handled felony and misdemeanor domestic violence cases for almost eight years before moving to a felony drug caseload. He was an executive board member for the Assistant State Prosecutor’s union (ASP), a member of the bargaining committee, and a union representative for the DA’s Office.
In February of 2008, Governor Doyle appointed Ozanne to be the Executive Assistant for the Department of Corrections (DOC), the largest cabinet agency in the state, with a budget of $1.2 billion, 10,000 employees, 20,000 adult inmates, 70,000 adults on community supervision, and wards of the juvenile system. Ozanne worked on the DOC’s budget, the DOC’s response to racial disparities, and Act 28 sentencing reforms. In July 2009, Governor Doyle appointed Ozanne to be the Deputy Secretary of the DOC, where he was in charge of daily operations.
On August 1, 2010, Governor Doyle appointed Ozanne to be the Dane County District Attorney, due to DA Blanchard being elected as a Court of Appeals judge. Notably, Ozanne is the first African American District Attorney in Wisconsin’s history.