Highland Park to fill 2 department head positions
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:10AM
A significant change in Highland Park City Hall leadership is under way as incoming City Manager David Knapp will be tasked with hiring two department directors within his first months on the job.
Knapp, whose first day in Highland Park is slated for May 14, will hire new Finance and Public Works directors as Elizabeth Holleb and Mary Anderson recently announced they are leaving the city after a combined 18 years in Highland Park.
Anderson has already left her full-time post at Public Works, but has agreed to lend her expertise on the city’s ongoing infrastructure projects, including the water plant, road and sewer improvements, until her replacement is hired.
Acting City Manager Patrick Brennan will oversee the day-to-day operations at the Public Works Department until a new director takes over in June.
Holleb notified Brennan last week that she has accepted the position of finance director in Lake Forest, closer to her Gurnee home. Her last day in Highland Park will be May 18.
“It was a very difficult decision because I’ve really enjoyed my time in Highland Park,” Holleb said. “We have accomplished so much, and it’s really a great organization and community to work for.”
Brennan already has begun the hiring process for both senior positions. The city has commissioned a national recruitment firm to seek applicants with the goal to have candidates lined up for new manager Knapp to interview later this month.
“Anytime you have long-time department directors leave, you lose a lot of institutional knowledge,” Brennan said. “It’s natural when you lose that much experience, especially at one time, for things slow down just a little bit. But we have such a fantastic staff that I think we will continue accomplishing great things.”
In addition to the numerous infrastructure projects Anderson managed in nearly 10 years, Brennan pointed to the historic blizzard last February as an example of her successes.
“When you look at the amount of progress we’ve had during (Anderson’s) tenure it’s pretty impressive,” Brennan said. “Then you look at the blizzard we had here last year, and I don’t think many cities responded as well as we did. Mary ensured her staff was performing at the highest level possible to clear the streets.
“It’s when emergencies like that pop up, you see the true example of things people are capable of, and I think Mary hit a home run on that one.”
Brennan also praised Holleb’s 8.5-year run in Highland Park. He said her expertise and demeanor proved to be a great fit for the city.
“I personally hate to see her go,” he said.
On Holleb’s first day in 2003, the city had yet to implement a direct deposit system for its payroll. Upgrading the city’s financial system was a significant success, said Holleb, who also highlighted the city’s new long-term financial forecasting.
But more importantly, Holleb expressed pride in the city’s ability to weather the economic downturn, maintaining economic vitality, strong reserves and a AAA bond rating.
“I’m proud of this department,” she said. “I’m proud of what we do every day. It’s a very difficult group of people to leave.
“I get a little emotional thinking about having to say good-bye.”