BLOOMINGTON — On one of the greatest nights in her career, Camille Rodriguez thought of her grandmother.
"My grandmother used to pick vegetables, and now her granddaughter is holding a position of esteem and pride — not that her position wasn't prideful also — but I've been blessed," Rodriguez told The Pantagraph. "It's amazing what families can do in the span of a generation or two."
Rodriguez is not only the first person of color but also the first woman to be named McLean County administrator, following a County Board vote Tuesday.
"It obviously has significance to my three daughters. They are very proud their mother is the first woman to hold this position," she said. "I feel like McLean County in and of itself has a strong history of hiring the right client for the job, so ... I'm just proud to be held in the company of the previous county administrators."
She'll take the job June 1 to succeed Bill Wasson, who's retiring after 34 years with the county, including eight as administrator.
Rodriguez said she looks forward to bringing 20 years of government experience, including a year as director of the McLean County Health Department, to the county's highest hired position.
"(I'll be) spending as much time with current County Administrator Wasson that I can while still fulfilling all of the expectations that the McLean County Board of Health has," she said. "I'm looking forward to effectuating what the County Board sees as my role and responsibilities for as long as I can."
The Board of Health will begin meeting later this month to discuss the transition to a new leader, said President Judy Buchanan. An interim health department administrator will be named before Rodriguez leaves that role.
“Personally and professionally, I’m delighted by this opportunity for Camille,” Buchanan said. “We on the Board of Health have found her to be a capable leader. ... We will miss her but look forward to working with her on a higher stage.”
Buchanan said she will recommend that the Board of Health conduct a national search with the goal of naming a new health department administrator in several months.
"I'll be involved in finding a successor just relative to setting the stage for the Board of Health," said Rodriguez. "In the last few months that I've held that role, we've established a new strategic plan, and we've changed the mission, vision and values statements. ... I think the Board of Health will look for a successor that is willing and able to continue on implementing those cultural changes."
Rodriguez, an Oshkosh, Wis., native, previously served as director of the Bureau of Community Health Promotion for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' Division of Public Health.
She also served the state of Illinois for a decade in the Department of Children and Family Services' Division of Child Protection and with the Office of the Executive Inspector General.
Rodriguez will be paid $130,000 per year, plus $323 per pay period in pension contributions, and other benefits. Wasson's salary is $145,816, plus $17,248 annually in pension contributions and $22,540 in other benefits.
Rodriguez beat out two other finalists for administrator: Eric Schmitt, the county's administrative services director; and George Koczwara, finance director for Chicago suburb Crystal Lake.
A committee of community leaders, including two former administrators, helped the county pick five candidates to interview. The board recognized those leaders during Tuesday's meeting.
"Thank you, and good luck working with this group," said Board Chair John McIntyre, who led the search, to Rodriguez. "I'm sure you'll be successful."
Rodriguez was approved by a 15-0 vote. Board member George Wendt abstained and declined to comment on that decision after the meeting.
Board members Jacob Beard, Bill Caisley, Chuck Erickson and Randall Martin did not attend Tuesday's meeting.
With the hire, each of McLean County's biggest governmental bodies has replaced its top leader in the last year-plus. Normal hired City Manager Pam Reece, the first woman to hold that job, to succeed Mark Peterson, and Bloomington hired City Manager Tim Gleason to succeed David Hales.