Nancy Morgan, Mount Prospect's longtime human services director, said she knows her decision to retire next month is the right one, even though she will miss working for the village.
"With something like this, you just know when the time is right," Morgan said Thursday. "I'm healthy, and I still have so many interests I want to pursue and family I want to visit."
Morgan's last day with the village will be Feb. 20. She joined Mount Prospect's staff in August 1984, the beginning of a tenure that would last nearly 30 years.
During that time, she helped transform human services from a small division within Mount Prospect's government to one that today provides health and social services to hundreds of community members through a staff of 10 people, including four full-time social workers and a full-time nurse.
Last year, Morgan won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers for her work.
Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek said Morgan will be "dearly, dearly missed."
"She's been our caretaker, in a lot of ways," Juracek said. "Nancy always put 110 percent of her energy and her heart into everything she did for the village."
Morgan, a Wilmette native who earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois, said that when she started working for the village, human services was geared almost entirely to senior citizens.
Over time, she expanded the scope of the department to include social services for families and immigrants who'd moved to the village, along with health services for all.
"Every year during the budgeting process, I'd go to the board with a request for this program or that program," she said. "The elected officials always took these ideas seriously and in the end, approved them, which is why we were able to grow."
Looking back on her career, Morgan cites a couple of programs as sources of pride for her. One is the police social services program, which in the 1980s established channels by which police officers can connect residents to counseling or other social services.
Another is the opening of the Community Connections Center on the south side of the village in 2009. The center brings together a number of service providers, including the Mount Prospect Public Library and Elk Grove Township District 59, in a single location for the residents who live nearby.
"It took us a while to develop that center, but it's been such a great resource for the community," she said. "I'm so proud to have been a part of that."
Morgan said she will miss working every day with colleagues and village residents. But she's excited about starting a new chapter in her life, which will include increased volunteer efforts for the United Way, a group she believes in strongly.
"Mount Prospect is a special community that has made a unique commitment to social services," she said. "I'm grateful for the time I've had. Now, it's time for something new."
Morgan's replacement will be announced shortly, officials said.