Q&A with Dawn Wucki-Rossbach, Village Administrator at Village of Maple Park
Dawn is the first Village Administrator for the Village of Maple Park. She works with only four other full-time employees, and any other services are contracted. Her well-rounded background in Public Works, Community Development, Budgeting/Finance, and the Management Office have served her well in this role, as she dips into everything. Read on for a Q&A with Dawn.
Q.1. Did you see yourself becoming a public administrator when you were growing up? If not, what else did you picture yourself doing?
Originally, I wanted to be a biogenetist, loved doing Punnett squares and biology, but when I was a freshman in college I took Political Science 101. The instructor David Crowley was great and included case studies in his class. There were two cases studies that flipped the switch in me. They were for the Challenger Space Shuttle and Pearl Harbor. I did very well analyzing the cases and thought that I could help and protect people if I went into public service. A short time later, I changed majors to Political Science and then to a double major of Public Administration and Political Science. Over the course of my career I have become fully rounded with experience in Public Works, Community Development, law enforcement from the business perspective, budgeting and finance, risk management, human resources and overall municipal management. I can’t imagine doing anything else, but have learned to never say never.
Q.2. How did you feel being told you were chosen as first Village Administrator for Maple Park?
Becoming the first Village Administrator for the Village of Maple Park has been a journey. The Village formally began the process in January 2019 where they created a job description for the position and the projects they wanted completed. The projects aligned with their recently approved Strategic Plan. The Village began the hiring process through GovTempsUSA and I was one of three very qualified people to interview for the part-time position. The Village Board selected me and I began working in August 2019. The position initially was part-time to see how the position would work with Village operations and how well the transition would be from Village committees completing projects to a Village Administrator completing the projects and overseeing daily operations. It was also a fit test to see how well whomever was selected would work with the Village Board. The relationship with the Board has been good, with adjustments in communications along the way. The game plan was to bring the position on full-time in May; however, COVID hit and we were waiting to see how revenues would be affected, long-story short, I was hired full-time on September 1 and am extremely happy to be assisting Maple Park in achieving the goals identified in their Strategic Plan and begin all the infrastructure replacement work that needs to be done.
Q.3. What was your first role in local government?
I began my career as an Undergraduate Intern with the Village of Libertyville. When I graduated and decided to attend Northern Illinois University for Public Administration Libertyville rehired me as a their intern. I worked through the Administrator’s Office (I could do everything from a dog tag up in the front office), Public Works and the Building Department. I coordinated the media campaign for first curbside collection recycling program and set up their first vehicle amortization program. After I graduated I stayed on in Libertyville and worked as a Planning Technician and finally as the Assistant to the Village Administrator.
Q.4. What do you like to do in your free time?
During my free time, we have three-quarters of an acres of land we maintain ourselves, so I spent a lot of time gardening, weeding, and landscaping. I love to play board games with the family (when we’re all together), watch movies, read, and cross-stitch. I also enjoy running, yoga or some form of exercise.
Q.5. What advice do you have for people who are new in local government, or starting as a new Manager/Administrator?
Become as well-rounded as you can. Don't be afraid to volunteer for projects, even if they're outside of the manager's office. Getting a well-rounded experience helps you put the bigger picture together, and see where all of the moving parts fit together to move things forward. Listen to your instincts if something isn't going as planned, this will help you avoid more issues down the line. And, if you make mistakes, cut yourself some slack!
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