District’s current finance chief takes helm from retiring Jim Pilmer on Jan. 1

AURORA – The Fox Valley Park District today announces the appointment of Jennifer Paprocki as Executive Director, following a thorough, four-month process that began with a national search.

A 12-year veteran of FVPD’s administrative team, including the last three years as director of finance – a position that also manages the District’s human resources division – Paprocki becomes the agency’s seventh executive director in its 76-year history. Her appointment unanimously approved at Monday’s December meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Paprocki officially takes the helm on Jan. 1, 2024, succeeding Jim Pilmer who in June announced his decision to retire following an eight-year run as FVPD’s leader.

“Overseeing finance and human resources, in addition to being an active user of our programs and services, has given me the opportunity to work closely with every level of our agency in different capacities,” Paprocki says. “And being a parent who lives in the community allows me to experience so many District-run activities through the lens of a resident. I’m very grateful for the unique perspective.”

Paprocki, 39, brings “integral knowledge and proven leadership to the position,” says Chuck Anderson, president of the FVPD’s Board of Commissioners. “Jennifer is a proactive thinker and respected leader. She’s very sensible and has an incredible understanding of the Park District’s financing, and the day-to-day of keeping things in check. That was a driving force with me.”

Hired as assistant director of finance in 2010, Paprocki was promoted to director in November 2020, during the height of the pandemic. At the Board’s direction and in her first major initiative as department head, Paprocki developed and implemented an economic relief plan for all employees in response to financial hardships resulting from the pandemic.

Additionally, Paprocki was directly involved in constructing the District’s five-year, $40-million capital budgeting plan, while considering additional financial impacts on operational costs, funding availability, and the offsetting benefits projects may provide to the District and the 236,000 residents it serves across three municipalities. She also expedited the District’s minimum-wage increase to $15/hour – two years ahead of the state’s required implementation date – to remain viable in a competitive market.

“Through the pandemic and now post-pandemic, Jennifer has been the architect of our financial planning,” Pilmer says. “She provided us the blueprint for our capital budgeting process that has brought incredible stability to the District.

“Clean, safe facilities, well-maintained parks and trails, and all the programs and events available to our residents just don’t happen without good financial planning – and this agency is rock solid in that category.”

Paprocki in 2019 managed the implementation of a new timekeeping system, which included the conversion of 1,100 employees to the new system for accruals, pay rates, new timeclock devices, training and execution into the payroll system. In 2020, Paprocki moved the District from an antiquated, 14-year-old business management software platform to a current, web-based version – a strategy that catapulted the District into early adopter status with the software company. As such, Paprocki was able to collaborate with a third-party consultant to implement the District’s Human Resources Information System (HRIS) in 2021, moving the District to an employee-facing portal and creating a more efficient system for hiring managers.

“Over the past 12 years, I’ve gained a tremendous understanding of District operations, including fiscal health, project management and employee and community relations,” Paprocki said. “We’ll continue to explore strategic, innovative paths to support our ongoing pursuit of reducing the District’s reliance on property tax dollars.”

Paprocki and husband Jason live in North Aurora with their two children, daughter Alexandra, 10, and son Connor, 8. Paprocki serves as PTO co-vice president at Fearn Elementary School, where her children attend.

“Jennifer is a younger mom who lives in the community and whose kids participate in District activities and events,” Anderson says. “Who better knows what’s good and bad than the people who live here? Outside contacts away from the Park District – your neighbors, people down the street, people who use our parks and facilities – those are integral parts in making a good executive director, someone who has a firsthand perspective of the goings-on simply by living in this community.”