Amid scandal, recently retired Rosa Escareno tapped to lead Chicago Park District

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Rosa Escareno has had quite the career, working under three Chicago mayors as the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States as children.

Recently retired, Escareno is now stepping in to lead the Chicago Park District after a major scandal.

Escareno had just retired as the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs and Business Protection after a 30-year career in City Hall. She had worked in several departments.

She has now been named the new interim General Superintendent of the Chicago Park District, following the recent resignation of Mike Kelly.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and several Aldermen called on Kelly to step down over his alleged coverup and mishandling of the internal probe into widespread sexual abuse and assault against lifeguards.

“Certainly many of the claims by the survivors and victims are extremely upsetting and very disturbing for me,” Escareno said.

An Inspector General investigation began in April following complaints of sexual harassment, abuse and assault involving dozens of employees in the aquatics department.

Escareno said that making sure the park district is a safe place to work is one of her top priorities.

“To make people feel secure and ensure those survivors are feeling heard. The other thing is there is a program that will be coming together to put an office of protection which is currently under review,” Escareno said.

Another item on her agenda is sitting down with the Chicago Bears, hopeful on keeping the team in the city after the franchise announced a purchasing agreement for Arlington Park in Arlington Heights.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I’ve been here a week. I’ve already scheduled a conversation so I can better understand where we are and really try to hear them out,” Escareno said.

Escareno touted the upcoming Halloween Movies in the Parks and an Upside Down parade in Washington Park this weekend as exciting events and programs to look forward to.

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