The next executive director of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District doesn't have a resume that screams "natural resources expert."
But forest preserve commissioners say they're convinced they've got the right guy this time around.
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John J. Lapinski, 53, the trial court administrator for DuPage County's chief judge, signed a three-year contract Tuesday that will pay him $160,000 a year when he takes the reins on Oct. 1.
"We are very fortunate to be able to hire a man with this ability. John's background is as an attorney and he has a vast amount of experience in management and environmental work," commission President Dewey Pierotti said. "I think he's going to be a real asset to the district, and I feel we're fortunate he's available to take this position."
Lapinski has lived in Oak Brook since childhood. He has served in administrative roles for the Illinois Supreme Court, the DuPage County state's attorney's office and other law firms prior to his appointment in 2009 as DuPage's trial court administrator for the Office of the Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court.
Lapinski also serves as a law professor for the Chicago-Kent College of Law and is a recognized expert in conflict and dispute resolution, having written dozens of articles on the topic for a number of legal publications.
"(Lapinski's) resume doesn't necessarily scream natural resources but he is a great administrator in an area where there aren't a whole lot of great administrators," Commissioner Joe Cantore said. "John has proved himself time and time again over the years and I believe our board can work with him and our staff will get a lot done under his leadership."
Commissioner Tim Whelan confirmed Lapinski was not in the pool of candidates considered for the job late last year when the commission hired Arnie Biondo, who had served as executive director of the Carol Stream Park District since 1995.
"The opportunity was like the perfect storm because (Lapinski) was available, and (Biondo) was leaving so, rather than going through an elongated process of a search, we came upon a candidate who fulfills what we are looking for and has a real familiarization with the forest preserve," Whelan said. "We're in a critical time with the strategic plan and the reorganization of things so we wanted somebody who was willing to commit the time and not be taking any elongated vacations. Once we get on a roll, we need to keep that momentum going."
Lapinski was not at Tuesday morning's meeting and did not return calls for comment. He was, however, quoted in a district news release.
"I'm excited to start a new chapter in my career," the statement read. "The forest preserve district's conservation and preservation mission is one I personally believe to be important and I look forward to leading the district into the future."