DeKALB – DeKalb park board members approved a two-year contract with Jason Mangum to become the DeKalb Park District’s new executive director at a special meeting Wednesday.
Magnum will start June 9 with an annual salary of $116,000.
Mangum has been the director of parks, recreation and cultural services for the past three years in Novi, Michigan, a town of about 59,000 outside of Detroit. His previous experience includes four years as the parks and recreation director in Show Low, Arizona, and two years as the recreation supervisor for Peoria, Arizona.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech, communication and rhetoric and a master’s degree in recreation from Arizona State University.
“When my wife and I visited DeKalb, we were impressed with the parks and the community and we felt we would be a good fit,” Mangum said, adding he also will bring his five school-aged children.
He said he is looking forward to hiring a superintendent of recreation, a position the board created in April, as well as reviewing capital projects such as Hopkins Pool and Lions Park. He also said he’s excited to work for a park district in Illinois.
“Illinois is kind of the promised land for a parks and recreation professional,” Mangum said.
Mangum was among three finalists for the position who went through three rounds of interviews with park commissioners. He was one of five selected by the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates based on criteria set by the board members.
“He’s a leader, but I think he’s also a really good listener,” Commissioner Keith Nyquist said. “I think he’s going to do a good job of listening to the residents and the taxpayers. That’s something we really want.”
Board President Phil Young said he was impressed with Mangum’s résumé and his more than a decade of experience in the field.
The hire ends a period of more than a year in which the park district has operated without a permanent executive director. Former Executive Director Cindy Capek officially resigned in June, although her last day with the park district was May 24, 2013.
The park board hired the search firm in November. Interim Executive Director Ray Ochromowicz, who the board hired Jan. 29, will likely end his time with the park district June 6, Young said.
“I know some people have questioned the timeline, but that is the most important position in the park district in terms of staff,” Young said. “I think it was an appropriate timeline.”