Top administrator resigns from DuPage forest district

  • Michael Hullihan on Wednesday resigned as executive director of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

    Michael Hullihan on Wednesday resigned as executive director of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Updated 11/17/2016 6:04 AM

The executive director of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has resigned after less than 15 months on the job.

Michael Hullihan tendered his notice Wednesday, forest preserve President Joe Cantore said. He said Hullihan's last day with the district will be in February.


"He's taking his professional career in a different direction," Cantore said. "I wish him the best."

Ed Stevenson, the district's director of business enterprises, has been appointed to serve as acting executive director. He'll start his new role immediately.

Commissioners spent nearly a year looking for an executive director before hiring Hullihan in July 2015. At the time, he was Oak Brook's public works director.

Hullihan's departure comes nearly three months after commissioners gave him a new, a one-year contract at the same $165,000 annual salary he received in his first pact.

Hullihan couldn't be reached for comment.

A written statement by the district didn't provide a reason for Hullihan's resignation.

Cantore said Hullihan was not forced out. "If he was forced out," Cantore said, "he would have been fired."

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During his remaining 90 days with the district, Hullihan will be available "to facilitate the transition between him and the acting executive director," Cantore said.

Hullihan's departure means the district hasn't had a long-term executive director since Brent Manning retired in June 2012 after 8 years at the helm.

After looking for more than a year for Manning's replacement, commissioners in December 2013 selected Arnie Biondo, who was serving as executive director of the Carol Stream Park District.

Biondo lasted less than eight months on the job before commissioners, who were unhappy with his performance, gave him the option of taking early retirement or being fired. Biondo chose retirement in August 2014 and is now working for a park district in Ohio.

At the time, officials said it was important to fill the post quickly and the commission voted three separate times, starting in mid-August 2014, to hire John Lapinski, a DuPage Circuit Court administrator, to be executive director. But during that process Lapinski became ill and eventually turned down the job to concentrate on his health.


Commissioner Tim Whelan said he's not looking forward to going through another search for a director. "It's the third time around for me," he said.

Whelan said it's possible the district could hire someone internally.

"I guess there are any number of options," Whelan said. "But something is going to have to happen so we can replace that position."

In the meantime, Cantore said he believes there's "a lot of great things to come" with Stevenson as acting executive director.

"Ed is our longest-tenured (administrator)," Cantore said. "Ed has time and time again showed himself to be pretty forward thinking. He's very good with the public. He's somebody who knows how to get big projects done."

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