Naper Settlement’s New Leader

Naperville lawyer, Macarena “Rena” Tamayo-Calabrese has been work for almost a month as President and CEO of Naper Settlement and the Naperville Heritage Society.

Before talking this position, the Naperville lawyer was the executive director of the National Association of Women Lawyers and led several departments at the American Bar Association in Chicago over 15 years, where she turned around failing programs.

“What they’re asking me to do is the big picture,” said Tamayo-Calabrese. “What they’re asking me to do is look at the big picture and that’s the kind of thing I’ve done in the past. It’s what I did for the American Bar Association. I don’t know what I can do here but I really want to come and find out. I think that’s part of the challenge and part of the fun.”

Her hiring came almost two year after former leader; Peggy Frank announced plans to retire.

During the year and a half search for a successor, the committee was looking for someone who could build on past leaders and use their own passion to take the Settlement to the next level.

“We were hoping someone would step up and knock our socks off a little bit,” said Steve Grosskopf, Vice Chair of the Settlement’s board. “We wanted someone that would inspire us to get to that next level. We had a great history of leadership and that’s what we were looking for. We didn’t want to loose anything, but we wanted to gain momentum.”

Tamayo-Calabrese hit the ground running last month and has many ideas on how to grow the organization, all which stem back to the vision that the Settlement tells stories with impact far beyond Naperville’s boarders.

“The Wheatland Plowing Association and all the things that happened with farming, that was part of the industrial revolution and that was big for our country, not just for Naperville,” said Tamayo-Calabrese. “But, most importantly it changes the way we feed America and that’s what happened in this tiny little town. There are so many big stories here.”

Stories she hopes to tell about the American dream through Naperville’s eyes.

“Whether it’s law, or whether it’s Naper Settlement, or museum work – my job is to tell a compelling story,” said Tamayo-Calabrese. “And to make that compelling story more known for the benefit of Naperville and for the benefit of our United States.”

Tamayo-Calabrese is just the second full-time leader in the museum’s 45-year history.

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