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Niemela: Batavia Park District gets new finance director

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Batavia Park District recently ended an extensive search for a new director of finance after the position was vacated in November. The position is crucial to the park district due to its role with budgeting, tax levies and payroll. And, therefore, the task of finding a replacement was not taken lightly.

Last week, I announced that Rita Kruse-Hankes of Aurora had accepted the position.

Kruse-Hankes comes from the village of Addison as the assistant finance director. Prior to that, she held a position as an accounting manager with the village of Downers Grove. Government experience was crucial in the selection of a new director of finance for the park district. With nearly 10 years of experience in government finance and a strong financial background, Kruse-Hankes was an ideal fit.

“I look forward to the new challenges of leading a finance department in a forward-progressing organization,” Kruse-Hankes said. “Having been born and raised in the Tri-Cities area, I feel my knowledge, work experiences and passion will inspire a better district for the future.”

Kruse-Hankes is a certified public accountant and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Northern Illinois University. Her first day with the Batavia Park District will be Jan. 2. She can be reached at ritak@bataviaparks.org or 630-879-5235, ext. 2021.

In addition, Kari Miller has recently been promoted from marketing and public relations manager to director of marketing and public relations. She will oversee the marketing and public relations department, which consists of seven employees. Additional responsibilities include being the webmaster for the district and developing and maintaining comprehensive marketing plans and promotions for all recreation programs, special events, the Depot Museum and Hall Quarry Beach. She will be in charge of the district’s communications, including publications, email blasts, video productions, social media and public relations campaigns.

Miller joined the Batavia Park District in 2008 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University with a major in communications, and she has eight years of public relations experience.

She is one of the fastest rising stars I’ve encountered, always looking out for the best interest of the district. She is very talented and deserving of this promotion. 

During her tenure with the district, Miller was instrumental in managing the district’s social media accounts, which include Facebook, Twitter and texting promotions. She continues to look for new ways to improve communication channels with residents.

“Over the years, I have engrained myself in the community, getting to know the people and the organizations better and am excited to get to work with them at this level,” she said.

Miller is currently building a new website for the district based on feedback from surveys and focus groups.

She has demonstrated her leadership skills in several capacities.

This year, she is the director of the communications and marketing section for the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. And last year, Miller was the recipient of the Batavia Park District’s most prestigious honor, the Bruce the Spruce Award. She received the award as a result of the respect her co-workers have for her and for her incredible work ethic.

“Being nominated by my peers was a huge compliment and one that I'm incredibly proud of during my time at the Batavia Park District,” Miller said.

Miller can be reached by email at karim@bataviaparks.org or by phone at 630-879-5235, ext. 2022.

• Allison Niemela is executive director of the Batavia Park District. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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