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Local News

Kendall County health board approves VanGundy as new executive director


YORKVILLE – The Kendall County Health Department's Board of Health has appointed a new executive director to start in the role next month.

Following a more than half hour long executive session, health board members voted, 8-0, during the board's 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30 meeting to approve making RaeAnn VanGundy, the interim director for the county health department, the department's new executive director and public health administrator of the health department effective Wednesday, July 1. All members were present during the in-person meeting.

The board also voted, 8-0, to set to vote on whether to approve the salary for the position to start at $118,000 per year, as opposed to up to $125,000 as previously written, after health board member Tony Giles proposed the amendment. Board members had voted, 5-3, in favor of the motion change, with Christina Cooper, Dr. Karin Gustafson and president Dr. John Palmer opposing.

Giles, who also serves on the Kendall County Board, said he proposed the salary change because he thought that was a fair and appropriate salary for VanGundy as new director based on previous discussion among health board members.

"I think the majority of the board felt the same way, judging by the vote," Giles said.

Palmer said he thought the starting salary should have been higher for VanGundy, considering she has been with the health department for 19 years and the health department is the second largest agency within the county. When health board officials did a salary survey of health department directors in the area, he said, $118,000 was on the low side of what people in those positions make.

"She has the potential to do wonderful things here and I just know that she will," Palmer said.

According to county documents, Dr. Amaal Tokars, former executive director of the county health department, most recently made $129,136 before she left the position in May. VanGundy's most recent salary was listed at $101,296, per the documents, and Palmer said her salary had not been adjusted previously while she was interim executive director for the county's health department.

VanGundy, who started working with the health department in April 2001, was not in attendance for the Tuesday meeting. Health department staff confirmed VanGundy will not be attending the meeting at a later time.

The update comes after health board members interviewed three candidates for the position during executive session for the board's June 16 meeting. Following the more than three hour long executive session, no public vote was taken for any one particular best candidate due to a lack of a consensus from the health board, according to board members, and two of the three candidates were asked back for a second interview.

When asked June 16 whether one of the two remaining candidates was VanGundy, Palmer previously declined additional comment on whether VanGundy is one of the two remaining candidates, citing unfairness in releasing that information to the public at this point of the interview process.

Palmer confirmed after the Tuesday meeting VanGundy was one of the two candidates that came back before the health board for the second interview.

"She came to that meeting and had an excellent interview," Palmer said. "She really knocked it out of the park."

Palmer said he didn't disclose VanGundy was one of those two candidates previously because he had thought it was more of a private matter at the time at the board level. He said he wasn't sure of how to respond to the question at the time but, in retrospect, there was no reason not to say that she was.

The health board also met at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 20 primarily for executive session purposes, according to the health department's calendar and the meeting agenda. Record Newspapers did not directly receive notice for the Saturday meeting, along with meetings prior to that, following such a request for notice made to health department staff on May 26.

Kendall County officials previously said during the May 19 County Board meeting that Tokars had accepted another position elsewhere and that she will leave her role as executive director for the county health department June 5. It also follows the Illinois Department of Public Health announcing Tokars will become assistant director of the state health agency.

During a May 19 health board meeting, health board officials voted to approve Tokars's resignation. They also voted then to table motions to name VanGundy the new executive director and to set the executive director's annual salary for up to $140,000.

Palmer said the initial thought for the previously proposed salary caps was to allow for possible future salary increases from a more baseline salary.

Palmer said he has known VanGundy for as long as she has been with the health department. During that time, he said, he has seen what she can do and the relationships she's capable of developing with staff, along with being very knowledgable.

"She does a wonderful job, has great suggestions," Palmer said. "I just think she's the best person I could think of to put into this position."

• This story has been updated following the Tuesday, June 30 Kendall County Health Department Board of Health meeting.

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