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posted: 10/22/2013 5:49 PM

Forest preserve happy with director search, despite missing deadline

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DuPage County Forest Preserve officials have all but assured they will not name a new executive director by their self-imposed Nov. 1 target date.

Commissioners emerged Tuesday without making a selection and are not scheduled to meet again until Nov. 5. Despite the delay, most said they remain confident in their search process.

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"We decided Nov. 1 was a nice target date but now that we're in the process we want to take the time and make sure we're all talking and getting our questions answered," Commissioner Shannon Burns said. "There is movement, and we're making progress, so I'm not concerned."

Commissioner Tim Whelan said the "self-imposed" Nov. 1 deadline was set before officials got heavily involved in the search.

"We're in the process now and moving at a good pace while also giving careful consideration to the excellent candidates being presented to us," Whelan said. "I couldn't be more satisfied to this point."

Commissioner Linda Painter said she has no recollection of setting the Nov. 1 deadline but stressed commissioners "are moving as fast as (they) can to get a new director in place."

Commission President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr., however, said he is not confident a new director will be chosen by the end of the year. Pierotti, who is retiring next November, said he has been staying in the background during the interview process to ensure the commissioners "get what they want."

"The commissioners need to all agree and come to a unanimous decision on what they want moving forward for the district and they just can't seem to do that," he said. "I've said all along that this needs to be a unanimous or as close to unanimous process as possible, but I don't see that happening real soon."

Several commissioners, while declining to discuss specific details, said they would like the final decision to be unanimous.

"Of course I'd like it to be (unanimous). It's important to have consensus on whoever we choose," Whelan said. "I've been on enough boards to know that may not be possible, but whoever we choose will be in a good situation moving forward."

Burns said it's important for everyone to "feel really good about the selection."

"Even though some of us risk not being re-elected in 2014, our job at the moment is to pick the best person we can all work with," she said.

Pierotti has been filling in as executive director on an interim basis for more than a year since Brent Manning stepped down from the post. Pierotti has asked the district's search firm to expedite the process to give the new director a full year with the current commission before the November 2014 election.

The new director specifically will be responsible for developing and implementing long-term plans for the district that will include work at new and existing preserves, natural areas and educational centers.

The district is looking for someone with 10 or more years of leadership experience for a public or nonprofit agency and with a strong background in financial management and interpersonal skills. The job will pay between about $99,000 and $220,000 a year based on experience.

The new executive director will help oversee 60 preserves covering roughly 25,000 acres with 145 miles of trails and five education centers.

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