Arlington Heights Park District hires Bloomingdale's parks executive director
Bloomingdale Park District Executive Director Carrie Fullerton has been hired to fill a similar job in Arlington Heights starting early next year.
Arlington Heights Park District board commissioners at a special meeting Monday voted 4-0 in favor of hiring Fullerton as the next executive director starting March 2. Commissioner Robert Nesvacil was unable to attend the session but expressed his support for Fullerton in a statement read by park board President Maryfran Leno.
Fullerton, who will receive a $190,000 annual base salary, was selected for the Arlington Heights job through a focused search process. Leno said the Arlington Heights park leaders approached Fullerton and two other Chicago-area directors who they believed would be a "great match" for the village.
Officials said Fullerton's experience and solid industry reputation -- locally and nationally -- were among the reasons she was selected as Arlington Heights' new parks boss.
"I think she's one of the outstanding leaders in our field," said Steve Scholten, who led Arlington Heights' park system from 2008 to 2016 and has served as interim executive director since January. "Any job that she's undertaken, the district has grown and improved. She has a very welcoming leadership style. She will fit very well in Arlington Heights."
A frequent speaker at state and national conventions, Fullerton joined the Bloomingdale Park District in July 2008. In January, she received the Illinois Association of Park Districts' Honored Professional Award for her contributions to the field.
After her hiring was announced, Fullerton said she'll bring a passion for improving and enhancing the quality of life for Arlington Heights residents through parks, recreation and open space. She said her strengths include having an interest in creating plans and services focused on community needs and focusing on local, statewide and national industry trends.
"The agency has a rich history of excellence in providing high-quality park and recreation services," she said of her desire to lead the Arlington Heights district.
Fullerton, 51, said her Bloomingdale accomplishments include passage of a November 2016 ballot initiative that sought voter permission to borrow $9.9 million for sports fields and other projects, and creating new communitywide special events such as the Festival of Lights and Bunny Bash.
As part of the transition process, Fullerton will attend some park board meetings and a joint session with village officials in February, Leno said. Fullerton, who was an Arlington Heights parks intern while attending the University of Illinois in 1992, also will work with Scholten for a few weeks.
"Her experience will bring something different, a lot of fun ..." Leno said. "We're looking forward to moving forward. Steve's done an excellent job as interim director for close to a year now."
Fullerton was director of parks and recreation for the village of Hinsdale for two years before joining Bloomingdale's district. She also was superintendent of special facilities for the Wheaton Park District and a division manager for the Schaumburg Park District.
Arlington Heights park board members in April officially severed ties with former Executive Director Rick Hanetho by approving a $95,000 separation agreement with him about six months after he went on a leave of absence for reasons that were not publicly revealed. Hanetho was hired as parks boss in June 2016.