- Sep 24, 2021
Cara Pavlicek, who took leadership of Northbrook’s professional staff on September 1, recently took a short break in her busy transition to share some thoughts with the Chamber about her new role in Northbrook. Previously, she served as Village Manager for Oak Park, where she promoted redevelopment efforts that brought more than $300 million in private investment to Oak Park’s downtown. Her career has included local management roles in Downers Grove; La Vista, Nebraska; and Des Moines, Iowa. She earned her B.A. at the University of Washington and holds an M.A. in Public Affairs from the University of Iowa.
What drew you to make a career in local government management?
While in graduate school at the University of Iowa, I wanted to work for the EPA and focus on environmental issues. A mentor encouraged me to take an internship in city government and advocated that when working at the federal level, you miss out on interacting directly with those you are serving while alternatively at the local level you get to work directly with people. This guidance resulted in my first job as an intern for the Des Moines City Manager and in that position, I quickly discovered how amazing public service is at the local level.
What factors attracted you to the Northbrook Village Manager position?
I was interested in Northbrook’s reputation as a civic-minded community that is committed to providing public services which contribute to a high quality of life for everyone who lives, works and does business in the community.
What are your top three priorities for your first six months?
First, I am focusing on people and getting to know individuals in the organization and in the community, ranging from elected officials to our employees as well as residents and community leaders. Second, I am learning about the organization and community’s history with more depth than can be accomplished during the recruitment process. Finally, it is a key priority for me to ensure that the process of joining the organization is seamless and that established priorities in the adopted FY21/22 Village budget remain on schedule. In other words, the saying “hit the ground running” is an accurate description of my first few weeks.
The Village has undergone a significant number of staff and leadership changes this year (including yourself). What strategies will you use to help build connections between new staff members and the business community?
For me, getting to know people is best described as reverse mentoring. I want to learn from others and understand Northbrook from their perspectives. We should take this occasion to work with the Chamber to facilitate connecting new Village staff with the business community so that when big opportunities arise or small questions come up — we all have a strong network of key contacts to connect with. To keep the business community informed on what is going on in the Village, we will continue to utilize our social media platforms, weekly e-newsletter, and other communications initiatives – including getting the word out through our partnership with the Chamber.
What do you see as the role of the Chamber in strengthening the Village?
The Northbrook Chamber is an important partner in our collective work to ensure business and industry is thriving in Northbrook. The Chamber’s role in providing information to the business community and promoting civic engagement and supporting charitable activities in Northbrook is also notable!