The Macomb Park Board conducted a lengthy search for the next Executive Director of the park district. It turned out the best candidate was right under their noses all along. Commissioners unanimously agreed to promote Rachel Lenz, who was serving as the district's Superintendent of Special Events and Facilities.
“I’m proud to be part of this park district family and proud to see the changes that we have made as a district over the last three to four years and all the experiences that we’ve created,” Lenz told the board.
She is credited with helping start the Movie in the Park, the Flatland Summer Jam, and other events.
After the meeting, Lenz said she is looking forward to the opportunity. “I think we have in front of us several interesting challenges, and through the time that I have been with the park district I’ve never strayed away from a challenge.”
Lenz said one challenge is finances, especially with the state budget uncertainty. She’s also looking forward to completing development of Veterans Park and she hopes to resolve the ongoing public pool issues.
Lenz was given a three-year contract as Executive Director with a starting salary of $66,000. She will replace Ray Peterson, who is retiring after a lengthy career with the park District. Lenz will serve as director designate during December, working alongside Peterson, before taking over in January.
Lenz said she grew up in Knoxville, IL. She came to Macomb in 2005 and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Illinois University. She said she was hired as a graduate assistant for the McDonough County Special Recreation Association in 2010 before taking over the Special Events position in 2013.
Park Board President John Hemingway said the Illinois Association of Park Districts served as the board’s recruitment partner and advertised the position statewide. He did not know how many people applied. He said the board brought four finalists to town and interviewed each for around eight hours before choosing Lenz.
“She has a vision for the district and she was able to articulate that vision,” Hemingway said, adding the district has witnessed first-hand the energy Lenz puts into her job.
“She is a fount of ideas and creativity.”
Hemingway also said Lenz has established herself as a leader in the community.