The Gurnee Park District recently said farewell to Judith McCandless, office manager/technology coordinator, after nearly 30 years of dedicated service.
McCandless, who started with the district in 1983 and was one of only five full-time employees at the time, has served as an integral member of the park district staff as the district grew to over 400 employees, 28 park sites and thousands of park district programs. The area of growth she is most proud of is that of the district customers who have grown to over 34,000. McCandless is passionate about high standards of customer service and it was evident in happy customers all of which she "considered family."
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She was especially fond of her littlest customers, making sure that there was never a time that the lollipop basket was empty or out of reach. She also looked out for her feathered customers who visited the bird feeder located near her office window which she kept well stocked.
McCandless was an essential part of overcoming many challenges and capturing many opportunities which have made the Gurnee Park District a National Gold Medal award-winning district. McCandless took part in overseeing the technology and customer service needs of the park district's facilities expansion which included an addition to the Viking Park Community Center in 2000; the construction of both the Hunt Club Park Aquatic Center in 2002; and the Hunt Club Park Community Center in 2006.
Under McCandless' leadership, the district has had many technological accomplishments including: computer systems (from the early years of dumb terminal through the use of mobile devices today), the introduction of email and exchange servers, the initial launch and subsequent relaunches of the district website as well as spearheading online registration. McCandless also played an integral role in developing the district's SOFFI (Serve, Ownership, Family, Fun and Integrity) Customer Service Standards.
McCandless has plans to have fun and volunteer for the many organizations and causes dear to her. With 12 grandchildren and family spanning coast to coast her future is bright with travel and adventure.
"Of course, there will always be a special place for Judy at Gurnee Park District," said Susie Kuruvilla, executive director for the district. "She has had a remarkable impact on the Gurnee Park District and the surrounding community. We are so fortunate to have had such a dedicated and caring employee for so many years and we will be forever grateful."