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Rosa Escareño picked to head Chicago Park District – Crain’s Chicago Business

“I am grateful that the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners accepted my recommendation to appoint Rosa Escareño as the Interim General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a release announcing the appointment, giving Escareño her “full support and confidence.”

“Rosa is the right leader for this moment to bring confidence back into our Park District and to ensure it continues to provide crucial services to our community. As we conduct our search for the next General Superintendent, I look forward to ushering in a new era of accountability in our parks system,” her statement continued. Escareño had logged 30 years in public service under three different mayors, and at the time of her retirement from city government, said she was looking forward to rest and family time. 

At a Park District board meeting today, Escareño said she wanted to “ensure that we regain the trust of the people of Chicago, and that employees will look to the Park District as a great place to work, also feel that it is a place that protects them and will look out for them.”

Asked about Kelly’s exit at an unrelated news conference today, Lightfoot declined to detail what had caused her to flip from being largely supportive of him since the scandal first broke earlier this spring. She declined to detail her reasoning, saying today that it was important that the Park District’s investigation into the lifeguard program “be completed and be completed expeditiously,” but did say there was information that came to her in the past week that convinced her “that it was time for new leadership at the Park District.” She also did not comment on the future for Park District board President Avis Lavelle.

Lavelle made a statement towards the end of today’s Park District board meeting, as they were considering Escareño’s appointment. “We, as a board, and the Chicago Park District as a whole, are taking each and every allegation seriously, finding the facts, and acting on them and holding accountable those who failed to do what they should do and what is right is a high priority.”

Lavelle said at an emergency meeting held Friday that Kelly was suspended and then given the option to resign or be fired for cause. “We wanted him to resign, and we made that clear,” she said. He is not accused of sexual assault or harassment, she continued, “but he is guilty of deceit and failing to take critical steps to promote the zero tolerance standards that must replace this frat boy culture that has been allowed to flourish here for too long.”


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