If you’ve ever had to get something done with the Village of Oak Park, chances are you’ve worked with Tammie Grossman. As director of development customer services, Grossman is one of the most public-facing individuals on village staff. Soon, however, she will be saying goodbye.

Come June 23, Grossman will be retiring, ending her tenure as an Oak Park civil servant. 

“Tammie is a dynamic individual; she operates from the heart,” said Village Manager Kevin Jackson. “I just wish I had her a little bit longer.”

Although Jackson, who became village manager in early 2022, only got to work with Grossman for a short period of time, Grossman’s career with the village spans 15 and a half years, three village presidents and four village managers, including one interim. 

An Oak Park resident, Grossman joined village staff in January 2008 as housing programs manager, having seen the job listing in Wednesday Journal. Prior to that, she served as a managing attorney with Prairie State Legal Services and as executive director of Housing Action Illinois, an affordable housing advocacy nonprofit.

Her position with the village allowed her to be closer to home, as her youngest child was then in kindergarten. It also gave her a more active position working for her community, although it was at times difficult to be on staff and live in the village. 

“I’ve always been proud to be a Village of Oak Park employee,” she said. “But it hasn’t always been easy being in residence and a high-ranking village employee because not everybody always agrees with everything you have to do.”

Over time, Grossman’s job shifted. She took on greater duties, working as interim human resources director, as well as manager of housing and Community Development Block Grants. In January 2014, she was named director of the development customer services, which at the time was an entirely new department. As development customer services director, Grossman oversees the village’s building, business services, planning, CDBG and housing divisions. Her role grew further in 2017, when parking was folded into her department, making it one of the village’s most expansive.

Now, about 42 people work under Grossman. Many of those people she considers to be very close friends. She doesn’t anticipate that changing now that her time as a member of village staff is coming to an end.

“I’m sure my employees will be in my life for a long time because I’ll stay in touch,” she said.

Her list of accomplishments as an Oak Park civil servant is considerable, but perhaps one of her biggest was modernizing village services. She converted the planning and permitting application processes from paper to the internet. 

“When I first started, we had a room that was just filled with paper plans in bins,” she said. 

If someone wanted to see the plans for a new project, the plans would have to be pulled from one of the bins. Often, several people wished to view the plans at the same time, so they would have to wait in line for hours before their turn, according to Grossman.

When Grossman was remodeling her kitchen, before she was in charge of the department, she had to wait four weeks until her application was viewed by village staff 

Now, roughly 95% of all the village’s permit applications are approved online and all current development applications can be viewed through the village’s website, making everything more organized and efficient for staff and the public alike. 

During COVID-19, she assisted the Oak Park Public Health Department by leading the team that sent out the invitations for vaccination clinics. Her team was responsible for ensuring the clinics ran smoothly.   

For all of Grossman’s efforts across several different areas and multiple years, Oak Park is a “better community today,” Village President Vicki Scaman said. The village president praised Grossman’s heart and work ethic, as well as her commitment to problem-solving. 

“Oak Park will be forever in her debt,” Scaman said. “She will be sorely missed.” 

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