Impressed with her work in an interim role, the DuPage Housing Authority board has named Deb Darzinskis the agency's executive director.
Darzinskis had been serving as interim executive director since the August termination of David Hoicka, who was let go just eight months after being hired to help overhaul the housing authority that once mismanaged more than $10 million in federal funding.
Darzinskis said she's thankful for the opportunity.
"The housing authority is a great place," she said. "The service we provide for the community is very needed. We have a great team of people. I think everybody is excited about becoming the best we can be."
She will be paid an annual salary of $115,000, officials said.
Darzinskis joined the agency in June as a project administration specialist after spending 14 years with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet. She was named interim executive director two months later.
Despite having no previous experience overseeing a housing authority, Darzinskis showed she has strong organizational and management skills, board members said.
"It was amazing the progress she made in the short period of time she was interim director," Commissioner John Berley said.
In addition to implementing an administrative reorganization that included hiring new employees, Darzinskis ensured the housing authority continued efforts to reform.
The authority was rocked by scandal in 2011 when it was revealed that the U.S. Office of Inspector General released two audits critical of the agency. A third audit released that year concluded the agency improperly spent more than $5.8 million in federal money and failed to adequately document another $4.7 million.
Housing authority officials have since been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clear up the administrative issues that resulted in the audit findings.
Board Chairman Thomas Good said Darzinskis did "a wonderful job" of resolving many issues that needed to be addressed. "And she's a fast learner," he said.
So while housing board members originally planned to hire a firm to conduct a nationwide search for Hoicka's replacement, they soon realized they already had the right person.
"She proved herself doing the job," Good said. "That's more important than what somebody looks like on paper."
Darzinskis said her goals include making the agency more efficient and more effective. She also wants to improve customer service.
"We're taking a look at everything we do with a fresh eye," Darzinskis said, "and making adjustments as needed."