DuPage forest preserve poised to name new executive director

  • Ed Stevenson, who has overseen golf operations for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County since 2011, is expected to be named the district's executive director on Tuesday.

    Ed Stevenson, who has overseen golf operations for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County since 2011, is expected to be named the district's executive director on Tuesday. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer/November 2016

 
 
Updated 6/19/2017 4:43 PM

DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday to promote Ed Stevenson to executive director.

Stevenson has been serving as acting director since Michael Hullihan resigned in November after less than 15 months on the job. He previously was the director of business enterprises.

 

"I'm thrilled the board is willing to consider me permanently for the leadership position," Stevenson said Monday.

Forest preserve President Joseph Cantore said the board didn't conduct a formal search because it's "very happy" with Stevenson's work as acting director.

"Ed was right here," Cantore said. "It made things very easy and very seamless."

Stevenson has been a full-time district employee since December 2004 and was named director of golf operations in February 2011.

"Ed is a long-term member of the district's leadership team," Cantore said. "Through the years he has demonstrated a real ability to think creatively, to manage big projects ... to reduce expenses and grow relationships."

Cantore said Stevenson's performance as acting director since November has validated his opinion that Stevenson "has the right skills and characteristics to perform as the executive director."

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If he gets the post, Stevenson's annual salary will be increased to $195,000. He's currently paid $150,000 a year as acting director.

Stevenson will continue to have direct involvement in oversight of the district's golf operation, including the ongoing improvements at The Preserve at Oak Meadows golf course in Addison.

He said he hopes to work with the forest preserve board to help improve quality of life for DuPage residents.

"I'm looking forward to figuring out ways that we can continue to be good stewards of district land and find programs and practices that connect people to nature," he said.

The district hasn't had a long-term executive director since Brent Manning retired in June 2012 after 8½ years at the helm.

After spending more than a year looking 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 now is working for a park district in Ohio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

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

Commissioners then 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.

Stevenson said he has spoken with Cantore about his desire to serve as executive director "for a long time."

"I think both of us were very focused on making sure that the fit was right," he said.

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