Oak Park’s village board has made its commitment to community engagement quite clear since its collective term began May 3. So it should come as no surprise that the village is seeking the input of residents as it searches to find a permanent replacement for former village manager Cara Pavlicek.
Kira Tchang, Oak Park’s HR director, said in an interview that public input carries a lot of weight in the direction of the recruitment process, which the village has hired GovHR, a recruitment firm, to handle.
“Feedback from the community helps focus the search and identify key competencies, skills and qualifications of the future village manager,” she said. “The feedback also helps GovHR gain a greater understanding of the village including opportunities and challenges the future manager should be prepared to address.”
Since winning the contract on Aug. 19, GovHR is in the process of conducting a series of interviews and meetings with stakeholders to inform the development of the recruitment brochure and position announcement. Those stakeholders include the business community, intergovernmental partners, chief elected officials and administrators across Oak Park’s multiple taxing bodies and chairs of citizen commissions, as well as the social service and non-profit communities, according to Tchang.
The village has also planned community-wide events, one of which will be in-person to allow people unfamiliar with technology an opportunity to provide feedback. The in-person meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. in the main branch of the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. A virtual community forum is also being held for those uncomfortable with an in-person meeting during the pandemic.
“We certainly are hoping that those in the community who are interested in providing feedback are able to attend either,” said Tchang.
The virtual forum will be held over Zoom at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 12. The link to the meeting is provided on the village’s website under its dedicated village manager search page.
“There’s a ton of good information on there, and you’ll be able to continue to keep an eye on where the recruitment is at any point in time,” said Tchang.
The village manager search page includes a link to a survey for residents, as well as weekly updates on GovHR’s progress and the status of recruitment. The first update, released Oct. 1, reports that 69 residents have taken the community survey, while 33 members of staff have taken the employee survey.
“Stakeholders should expect to see themes from feedback sessions reflected within the position announcement and recruitment brochure and also incorporated into interview questions throughout the recruitment process,” said Tchang.
As such, the open village manager listing hasn’t hit the job boards yet. But it could soon. The village is in the process of scheduling a meeting of the board’s Personnel Committee to approve the job announcement. Tchang believes the meeting will likely be held the week of Oct. 18.
Interim Village Manager Lisa Shelley, who has no involvement in the recruitment process, told Wednesday Journal she has not yet decided whether to throw her hat in the ring and apply to continue the job permanently.
Tchang kept it diplomatic when asked if she hoped Shelley would submit herself for consideration.
“I think that everyone who is qualified and interested in serving as the village manager of Oak Park is strongly encouraged to apply,” she said. “The village board would love to see a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates – and that would include internal candidates, external candidates, everyone.”
While the personnel committee has the authority to approve the job announcement without having to get the OK from the village board, the full village board makes the final decision as to whom will assume the position.