Coleen Broderick | Photo by Bob Uphues

Following a three-month search that drew more than 25 applicants, veteran parks and recreation administrator Colleen Broderick has been hired as North Riverside’s new recreation director.

Broderick comes to North Riverside with 34 years of experience as a recreation professional, starting as a program supervisor in 1988 at the Hoffman Estate Park District and serving from 2016-19 as executive director of the Wildwood Park District. She most recently worked as a recreation supervisor in Lincolnwood through the consulting firm GovHR.

“I think it was the size of the organization that was attractive,” Broderick said of her decision to apply for the North Riverside opening, created in August when Teresa Mrozik resigned. “It seemed like it was very well-kept and did not have a lot of deferred maintenance. The facilities, programming and special events they handle with the amount of staff they have, it seemed like they were firing on all cylinders.”

North Riverside Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti said Broderick rose to the top of the applicant pool due to her experience leading a small organization and because she believes Broderick will be a mentor for staff who can step into leadership roles in the future.

“She was very strong in the area of managing a small staff, and she has a lot of administrative experience in the area of policies, procedures and best practices from the municipal and park district side,” Scarpiniti said.

According to Scarpiniti, elected officials were interested in building on the foundation put in place by Mrozik and focus on quality programming rather than quantity, and making sure programs were cost-effective.

“Our programs are well-received, but we’d like a larger percentage be resident participation,” Scarpiniti said. “We’ve noticed a lot of our programming is utilized by non-residents.”

Broderick will focus more on the administrative end of recreation operations, leaving most of the hands-on programming to recreation staff. She said she wants to nail down department policies and procedures.

“There’s a sense of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it.’ I want to formalize things so everyone is on the same page, doing best practices and making sure we have all our ducks in a row on the business side of it,” Broderick said.

Broderick also has experience in applying for and obtaining grants, said Scarpiniti, which will be key as the village is expected to face continued financial pressures in coming years.

The most recent grant Broderick obtained was a $72,000 non-matching award for the Wildwood Park District to repair and mitigate flood damage and perform infrastructure repairs to a pair of lakes maintained by that park district. She said she worked closely with a local state representative to help land the grant.

“It’s going to be a matter of touching base with legislators, letting them know what our plans are and building those relationships,” Broderick said.

Filling the recreation director position capped a period of change inside North Riverside Village Hall, with several new hires settling into key administrative positions.

“We’ve had quite a bit of turnover in the last six months, and we’re moving toward a different culture that we’re trying to build,” Scarpiniti said.

Broderick started in her new role on Nov. 16. Her starting salary is $98,000.