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DeKalb parks’ search for executive director gains momentum

DeKALB – A new executive director for the DeKalb Park District could be selected in May and in place by July, ending more than a year of operating without a permanent leader.

DeKalb Park District commissioners will conduct two rounds of interviews in April before making a final selection in May, said Keith Frankland, a senior associate with Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the firm leading the search.

Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates has been advertising for the position nationally since February after the board approved a $110,000 to $120,000 salary range and desired characteristics for the new director.

The four-member search team has been screening applicants with the board’s criteria in order to narrow the field to five candidates.

“In the end, the board has to choose the one whose personality fits the community,” Frankland said.

The search firm will present those five candidates to the board April 9, Frankland said. Commissioners will interview the candidates April 25 and 26 to pare the pool down to three candidates. The three candidates commissioners choose to move forward will each be put through a second interview consisting of more in-depth questions shortly after.

The board is looking for someone with good communication and financial skills, Park Board President Phil Young said. He added although experience with large projects akin to the renovation of Hopkins Pool will be considered, the ideal candidate would be a person who would build good relationships.

“We need to have someone there who is going in the same direction as we are,” Young said. “What it’s really going to come down to is how they can work and make our park district relevant for the next 20 to 30 years.”

A final decision on who to hire to fill the executive director position will be made during the board’s meeting May 8, Young said.

An early May hire would put the executive director’s first day on the job in June or July, Frankland said, meaning the park district will have operated for more than a year without a permanent director.

Former director Cindy Capek resigned in June, although her last day with the park district was in May. The board hired the search firm in November.

Assistant Director Lisa Wells Small was acting as interim director until Jan. 29, when the board hired Ray Ochromowicz of St. Charles to serve as the part-time interim director.

“I think we’re accelerating here,” Young said. “One of the most important decisions any board can make is to pick their executive director. It’s not something we should have rushed through.”

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