Changes in Leadership

Five local organizations said goodbye to their leaders this past year, and with those departures came the arrivals of new leaders with ideas and initiatives to move their organizations forward.


In June, Fermilab announced Nigel Lockyer would be taking over as director of the particle physics research facility. 
Lockyer had been the director of Canada’s TRIUMF Laboratory for six years prior to his move to Illinois.

“Fermilab is starting to establish themselves as the neutrino laboratory in the world,” explained Lockyer. “The neutrino has proven to be a very interesting particle and there’s still more secrets to find out. I think that’s going to be a big component of the Fermilab program.”

Lockyer replaced Pier Oddone, who retired after leading Fermilab for eight years.

Indian Prairie School District 204

Before the start of the new school year, District 204 superintendent Kathy Birkett announced she would retire in May of 2014, after being with the district for 35 years in many different capacities.

Birkett started as a physical education teacher at Waubonsie Valley High School and continued up the ranks to first principal, then to her current post.

“There are great teachers, great administrators, great parent support and just phenomenal kids so those are the reasons you wrestle with it,” said Birkett. “But I also know that those things will still be in place long after Kathy Birkett’s gone and I know it’ll remain to me the magical place that it’s always been.”

The district has launched a national search for a new leader.

Naperville Public Library

After Naperville Library Executive Director John Spears announced he was leaving to take a similar role in Utah, the board named Julie Rothenfluh who was working as the library’s deputy director, Spears’ replacement in August.

“This is something I really want to do,” said Rothenfluh, when the appointment was announced. “I care about this organization and the people who work here and the community we serve. And I really think it’s an exciting time to have this opportunity.”

Hesed House

When Ryan Dowd announced he was leaving Hesed House after leading it for eight years to start his own not-for-profit in Washington, D.C., the board hired Michael Cobb to step into the role.

Cobb had previously served as the Interim Executive Director of South Suburban PADS.

“I love doing this type of work, but I was doing it out of the south suburbs,” said Cobb. “This is my home. I’ve been here since 1993 in North Aurora and serving up and down the Fox Valley corridor. So just the simple fact that this door opened I had to at least check it out.”

Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce

After just under a year on the job, The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce decided to mutually part ways with President and CEO Mike Evans’ in November.

Evans cited personal obligations and demands of the job as reasons for stepping down.

The board appointed Katie Wood, the Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, as interim Chief Executive while the Chamber searches for a successor.

“I’m amazed at the robust schedule that they have. Our talented chamber staff is keeping those things moving forward,” said Wood. “I’m supporting them and not getting in their way because there’s a lot of great initiatives already underway.”

The board is accepting applications for the position, but Wood said she will not apply.

DuPage Children’s Museum

November also brought news of another retirement. Sue Broad, the Executive Director of the DuPage Children’s Museum announced she would retire in early 2014. 

“You always end up missing the people more than anything else,” explained Broad. “There are some fabulous people that have been engaged in this organization for this period of time. And I’ve enjoyed working with all of them. And working with our families and the board members. It’s just very engaging.”

Broad joined the museum in 1991, and has seen it go from a 5,000 square foot building with two employees to a national award winning museum with more than 300,000 visitors a year and this 46,000 square foot facility. 

Broad will serve on the search committee for the new CEO and will work to ensure a smooth leadership transition.


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