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DeKalb Park Board’s search for director reaches ‘crunch time’

DeKALB – More than six months after the previous director resigned, members of the DeKalb Park Board are on the verge of determining what they want in the agency’s new leader.

Filling the top position may take four more months.

The board held a closed-door meeting Friday to discuss details of the position such as salary, board President Phil Young said. He added park commissioners will hold up to a dozen closed sessions from now until May, when they expect to hire a new executive director.

With the park district’s new fiscal year starting in March and summer quickly approaching, park commissioners feel its “crunch time” to hire the new director, Young said. Park commissioners waited until November to hire a search firm because they were working on other projects, such as opening the dog park, he said.

“We had an interim director,” Young said. “It wasn’t like we didn’t have a director. We just needed to close some other projects. From the time we decided to hire the firm until we did was only one or two months. I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary.”

The search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, will present the board with a profile that includes characteristics the board wants in a new director ranked by importance.

“We are researching what the new director needs to have so that the agency gets someone who is custom-fit for that,” said Keith Franklin, a senior associate with the search firm.

This profile is expected to go before the park board for approval during its Jan. 29 meeting.

After approval, the job posting will be publicized, Young said. Search firm representatives will screen candidates before forwarding their top five candidates to the commissioners.

The candidates will then have two interviews with the board members before the process comes to a close in April or May, Franklin said.

Young said he understands the exhaustive process might seem lengthy to some, but said it is a necessity when choosing a new leader.

“This is one of the most important searches a board can do,” Young said. “We don’t want to rush to a quick decision.
I would rather be more diligent in what we’re doing.”

If the new director is hired in May, it will mean the park district has gone nearly a year without an executive director.

Cindy Capek resigned in June, although her last day with the park district was in May. Since she resigned, Assistant Director Lisa Small has served as interim director.

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