Oak Park’s chief financial officer, Steve Drazner, is leaving to become the chief financial officer for the Northbrook community. As of Sept. 11, he will be reunited with Oak Park’s former village manager, Cara Pavlicek, who serves as Northbrook’s village manager. Drazner has been overseeing Oak Park finances since August 2015.
Pavlicek approached Drazner for the position after Northbrook’s CFO was hired by the accounting firm contracted to carry out the municipality’s annual audit. The “incredibly tight” labor market in certain municipal fields caused Pavlicek to consider reaching out to Drazner, whom she called an “incredibly ethical individual.”
“I thought, well, I’m just going to give him a phone call and say, ‘Is this something you’d ever consider?’” Pavlicek told Wednesday Journal.
A replacement, interim or otherwise, for Drazner has yet to be selected. Oak Park Village Manager Kevin Jackson and his team are “diligently working on a plan for interim support” until a new chief financial officer is hired. The village will be launching an executive search in the coming weeks to recruit candidates.
“We know that this could not have been an easy decision for Steve to make and we certainly wish him well as he moves to a new role in Northbrook next month,” said Jackson.
A certified public accountant, Drazner has been working in municipal finance since 2001, having previously worked in the private sector. He began his career in Oak Park as deputy CFO then served as interim CFO for roughly four months before being promoted to the position permanently in June 2016.
“I consider myself fortunate to have spent the past eight years working for the Village of Oak Park,” Drazner told Wednesday Journal. “My position with the village has undoubtedly been a standout in my career and an extremely rewarding experience.”
“We are grateful for the contributions that Steve Drazner has made as our Chief Financial Officer during his tenure in Oak Park,” Jackson said. “He has shared a tremendous amount of fiscal expertise related to municipal government operations with the village.”
As chief financial officer, Drazner has helped the village develop fiscal policies, while keeping track of its revenue streams, accounting funds and bond payments. Ahead of each new fiscal year, Drazner works with various village staff department heads to coordinate the village’s annual budget, which is usually presented to the village board early fall and adopted in December.
His last day coincides with the beginning of budget season. This, however, does not concern Village President Vicki Scaman, who expressed her confidence in the village manager and praised the outgoing chief financial officer.
“I totally trust our village manager has this completely handled and I also know, without hesitation, that Steve Drazner will leave the village ready for the budget season,” said Scaman.
The news of Drazner’s impending exit comes almost two years to the day of Pavlicek’s own Oak Park departure; Pavlicek spent over a decade as the village’s top administrative official before she bid Oak Park adieu Aug. 17, 2021, in favor of Northbrook. Drazner is pleased to resume working with Pavlicek.
“I am looking forward to working with Cara again and would describe my working relationship with her, and Kevin [Jackson] as well, to be excellent,” Drazner said.
Northbrook is closer to Drazner’s family and cuts down his commuting time by about half, two factors that contributed to his leaving Oak Park, but he did not come to that decision lightly, as Jackson noted. Serving as Oak Park’s chief financial officer and treasurer has been “an honor” for Drazner.
“While parting ways with a job which I truly enjoy and a community that I hold in very high regard is bittersweet, I am looking forward to my next opportunity. I extend my heartfelt best wishes to my successor, colleagues, fellow associates, and the entire Oak Park community,” he said.