March is Women’s History Month, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. In addition, March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
In honor of Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and the Plainfield Park District’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Policy, we are highlighting some of the amazing women that work here.
First up is Director of Parks & Planning Jennifer Rooks-Lopez, who joined the District in 2016 after previously working as the Planning/Project Manager at Northbrook Park District (2009-2015).
In a field typically dominated by men, Jennifer is one of only a few women (if any) who are directors of parks and planning in Illinois. Her love of parks and planning began when she was 16, working in a local nursery.
“I like design and creating with open space,” she said. “It’s a huge asset in this area that we have so much open space for the public – biking and hiking and all of the recreational activities. There are some places in urban areas where there are very few parks. We are fortunate to have as much open space as we do in the Plainfield Park District.”
In addition to supervising 13 full-time staff as well as many as 10 seasonal staff, Jennifer’s responsibilities at the Park District are many and include:
- Oversight of the the grounds and facility maintenance program and budget for 91 parks, 1,500 acres, one pool, one equestrian center and six facilities
- Preparation of the annual budget for capital improvements in alignment with the Master Plan.
- Coordination with various consultants for the design and installation of capital improvement projects
- Grant writing and management both federal and local
- Construction scheduling, observation, preparation of bid documents and contract management
- Implementation of the District’s ADA transition plan
- Communication with multiple governmental agencies
- Assistance in coordination of volunteer organization projects as related to park improvements
- Public presentations and public input meetings related to park improvements
Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. She began her career working for several different planning and landscape architecture companies including Brickman Group (1998-2001), Hitchcock Design Group (2001-2006) and Wood and Partners (2007-2009).