Audrey Thompson appointed as interim Parks and Recreation director

Audrey Thompson, the city’s community services manager, poses for a headshot.

Source: City of Evanston

Audrey Thompson, the city’s community services manager, was appointed as the interim director for Evanston’s Parks and Recreation department.

Yiming Fu, City Editor

Audrey Thompson will serve as Evanston’s interim Parks and Recreation director, the city announced Monday, following former Director Lawrence Hemingway’s resignation last week. 

Thompson serves as the city’s community services manager where she oversees the youth and young adult division and the senior services program. She has recently focused on programs aiming to prevent youth violence, including the “My City, Your City, Our City” initiative, which started last year to increase youth programming over the summer. 

Thompson told The Daily she will continue her work, and that the Community Services and Parks and Recreation departments are “joined at the hip” and frequently work together. 

Hemingway, the former parks and recreation director, was appointed to the role in 2016. His resignation came four days before the independent law firm hired by the city released its investigation on sexual assault allegations by lakefront staff. The report condemned working conditions on the lakefront, criticized the city’s response and recommended next steps for the city to take. 

“Audrey exhibits the leadership characteristics necessary to guide the Parks and Recreation Department through transition and restore the public trust and confidence in the department,” Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski said in the Monday news release. 

Thompson said she aims to implement the recommendations outlined in the report and ensure the beaches are a safe space for staffers, family and children. She said she hopes to accomplish this by making sure that the beaches are adequately staffed, reanalyzing the selection process for supervisors and subordinates and emphasizing equity at the beach.

“This won’t be the Audrey show,” Thompson said. “This will be listening to staff, listening to the community and how they would like to see policies and procedures implemented.” 

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