Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison St., Oak Park. | Bob Uphues

Just as budget season starts to ramp up, the Village of Oak Park has appointed an interim chief financial officer to lead the village board and staff through the development of the 2024 fiscal budget.

Donna Gayden, an external hire, joined village staff Sept. 7, overlapping one day with former village CFO Steve Drazner. Taking on the interim role, Gayden said, is a “tremendous opportunity.”

“The village has a sterling reputation as a vibrant, diverse and forward-thinking community and I am confident that my passion for service will resonate well here,” said Gayden.

“I look forward to engagement with the board, staff and residents as we work in partnership to address their current needs, and continue to plan for the future, in order to achieve our shared vision.”

Donna Gayden

Drazner announced last month he would be assuming the same position with the Village of Northbrook, reuniting him with the Oak Park’s former village manager Cara Pavlicek. He had served as the village’s CFO since 2016 and spent about four months as interim CFO before receiving that promotion.

Gayden most recently served as city manager and treasurer for the city of Long Beach, N.Y., beginning in 2020. During her time there, Gayden was tasked with restructuring the community’s debt burden and improving its credit rating, according to Oak Park spokesman Dan Yopchick.

Village Manager Kevin Jackson told Wednedsay Journal village staff are “excited to have the support of Gayden, whom he called an “accomplished financial leader.”

“As our interim CFO, she will bring strong experience and a background as an engaging collaborator with the ability to address a wide range of financial and managerial challenges,” he said.

Although Gayden spent the last three years in New York, she has significant experience working in Illinois. She has held interim finance director roles for the City of Country Club Hills and the Village of Bradley. She also served as the top administrative official of Hazel Crest and Glenwood for two and five years, respectively.

From 2006-2010, Gayden worked as the controller for the Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County, a non-profit community action agency, where she was responsible for the organization’s operating budget in excess of $225 million, according to Yopchick.

Gayden has a master’s degree in tax law from John Marshall Law School and a master’s in accounting from Governors State University, as well as a bachelor’s in communications from Columbia College.

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