Batavia Park District announces two department head changes

By on January 3, 2013

BATAVIA—The Batavia Park District recently ended an extensive search for its new director of finance after the position was vacated in November. The position is crucial to the park district due to its role with budgeting, tax levies and payroll; therefore, the task of finding a replacement was not taken lightly.

Last week, Executive Director Allison Niemela announced that Rita Kruse-Hankes of Aurora had accepted the position.

Kruse-Hankes was previously the assistant finance director for the village of Addison. Prior to that, she held a position as an accounting manager with the village of Downers Grove.

Government experience was crucial in the selection of a new director of finance for the park district. With nearly 10 years of experience in government finance and a strong financial background, Kruse-Hankes was an ideal fit.

“I look forward to the new challenges of leading a finance department in a forward progressing organization,” Kruse-Hankes said. “Having been born and raised in the Tri-Cities area, I feel my knowledge, work experiences and passion will inspire a better district for the future.”

Kruse-Hankes is a Certified Public Accountant and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University. Wednesday was her first day with the Batavia Park District. She can be reached at or (630) 879-5235 ext. 2021.

Kari Miller has recently been promoted from marketing and public relations manager to director of marketing and public relations. She will oversee the marketing and public relations department consisting of seven employees. Additional responsibilities include being the webmaster for the district and developing and maintaining comprehensive marketing plans and promotions for all recreation programs, special events, the Depot Museum and the Hall Quarry Beach. She will be in charge of the district’s communications, including publications, email blasts, video productions, social media and public relations campaigns.

Miller joined the Batavia Park District in 2008 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in communications from Bradley University. She has eight years of public relations experience.

Miller was promoted by Allison Niemela, the former director of marketing and public relations who recently was promoted to executive director. The promotion will be a smooth transition for the district.

“Kari is one of the fastest rising stars I’ve encountered, always looking out for the best interest of the district,” Niemela said. “She is very talented and deserving of this promotion.”

During her tenure with the district, Miller was instrumental in managing the district’s social media accounts, which include Facebook, Twitter and texting promotions. She continues to look for new ways to improve communication channels with residents.

Miller also implemented a flipbook feature to the website,which replaces PDF files and allows for added features such as video and photographs to be linked throughout the fun guide to the website. Miller is currently building a new website for the district based on feedback from surveys and focus groups, and is always welcoming new challenges.

“This is definitely a very exciting time for me,” she said. “A lot of my work is behind the scenes so I’m honored the executive director has the confidence in me to take on this position.”

Miller has demonstrated her leadership skills in several capacities. This year she is the director of the Communications and Marketing section for the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. Last year Miller was the recipient of the district’s most prestigious honor: the Bruce the Spruce Award. Miller received the award as a result of the respect her co-workers have for her and for her work ethic.

“Being nominated by my peers was a huge compliment, and one that I’m incredibly proud of during my time at the Batavia Park District,” Miller said.

Miller can be reached by email at or by phone at (630) 879-5235, ext. 2022.