By Anna Lothson
After seven years in the position, Pat Zubak, executive director of the Downtown Oak Park business association, announced July 10 that she'll retire in August.
Zubak, who has been in the position since 2005, sent an email to friends and colleagues about her decision, explaining why she's moving on. She and her husband have decided to sell their Oak Park townhouse, which has become too small for their growing family, and found a new "vacation" ranch-style home in unincorporated Hinsdale.
"I have enjoyed working with all of you and serving this important business organization," Zubak wrote. "Oak Park is so fortunate to have more than its fair share of creative, talented and committed business people."
She made the official announcement to the DTOP board Tuesday morning, and a search for a new director has begun. Zubak doesn't have a set retirement date. She said she's trying to be flexible while the board searches for a replacement.
I'm confident that the membership is in good hands, with a committed and talented staff and board," Zubak wrote. "DTOP is in a solid place."
In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Zubak said she never pictured leaving Oak Park. She grew up going to Irving School and OPRF and came back even after moving away. Her adult children live in Oak Park, so she'll be back often.
"The people are great," she said. "I love working with the merchants here. They're an amazing group. They're hard working."
What she has enjoyed most in her position, she said, is collaborating with the other business districts to help Oak Park grow. When she took the job seven years ago, she only planned on staying for five, but something kept her around.
"All the people I'll miss on a daily basis," said Zubak, 59. "It's really been a great job."
Others shared the same sentiments about the announcement.
"Pat Zubak has served Downtown Oak Park with true commitment during transitional times. Our board has enjoyed working with her and appreciates her contributions and service to our membership and our district," Bob Johnson, DTOP president said. "I thank her for her dedication and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors." Johnson is the owner of both Sushi House and Hutong restaurants in the downtown area.
Loretta Daly, business services manager for the Village of Oak Park, emphasized that Zubak's creativity, vision and energy will be missed by the community. Daly, who served on the DTOP board, is confident the search for her replacement will have those characteristics in mind when interviewing candidates.
"Whether it was adding to the vitality of our downtown through the creation of many new and exciting community events, or creating the warm and inviting look and feel of our downtown, Pat has brought dedication and enthusiasm to the task," Daly said. "She will definitely be missed."
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