The Hinsdalean - Community journalism the way it was meant to be

It takes a village - Kathleen Gargano, village manager

 

Last updated 6/2/2021 at 3:05pm | View PDF

Jim Slonoff

Kathleen Gargano, Hinsdale village manager, has spent 24 years working in village government. She manages six department heads (who oversee a staff of some 90 full-time employees) and an annual operating budget of $18 million. (Jim Slonoff photo)

When village manager Kathleen Gargano shows up for work at village hall each morning, she's never quite sure what her day will hold.

And that's her favorite part of the job.

"No day is the same, and it is very uncommon that the day I plan actually turns out that way," she said.

As village manager, Gargano oversees village operations, including fire, police, public works, parks and recreation, community development and finance. She also must pursue the objectives of village board members, to whom she reports.

"It's my job to understand the direction and policies of the board and move the organization to meet those expectations," she said.

The six trustees and village president, who are elected by residents to serve four-year terms, are a real asset, Gargano said.

"I'm very fortunate to work in a community where the talent base is there," she said. "We have subject matter experts on a lot of things that come before the village board that are challenges for the community. I frequently tap into those skill sets."

Gargano served as assistant village manager in Wilmette prior to coming to Hinsdale in August 2013. She knew she wanted to continue working in a similar community where residents had high expectations for village services.

Prior to the 16 years she spent in Wilmette, she held a variety of other positions.

"After working with village managers in other towns, I realized that the position seemed to have the most impact on the daily life of people, and I am in this profession because I like to make a positive impact," she said.

Doing so requires significant time and effort. Gargano said her hours can be 24/7 - if needed - and it can be difficult trying to balance residents' desires with what is best for the village.

"I want to be able to address residents' concerns and board members' concerns and we sometimes can't, for a multitude of reasons, whether it be not having the financial resources to do it or it's something that wouldn't necessarily make for good public policy," she said. "I set the bar high for myself and I set the same bar for my staff, so when you can't address and meet residents' concerns, I view that as a challenge."

Gargano holds a master's in public administration and bachelor's in political science from Northern Illinois University. She also named several personal attributes the job requires.

"You need to be a good communicator," she said. "You need to be curious, and what I mean by that is there are many times that you are brought into an issue, and you may not have any background about it, and so you need to be curious enough to want to know the hows and whys of how something works.

"The best example I can give of that is I am not an engineer, but I have certain understanding of the engineering principles behind water and sewer operations, she added.

When it's time to head home, Gargano said she enjoys running, playing golf and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two children.

Gargano, who researched the village prior to taking the job here, has not been disappointed.

"I'm truly grateful to serve this community and to have the opportunity to work with such talented people," she said. "It's a very rewarding position."

- by Pamela Lannom

Author Bio

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 630-323-4422, ext. 104

 
 

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