In the life of every organization, there is a story arc that chronicles its achievements and the people who were key to its success. Many times, those people are servant leaders who work quietly behind the scenes for the good of the organization and its mission. For many years at Illinois Property Assessment Institute, one of those people has been Will County Chief County Assessment Officer Rhonda Novak.
In addition to serving as Will County CCAO, for the last eight years she has been chairwoman of the IPAI Board of Directors. On Friday, September 30, Rhonda is retiring from Will County and her position with IPAI. It is truly the end of an era for our organization.
When Rhonda joined the IPAI Board, we were going through a difficult time. Staff was transitioning, new continuing education requirements were being implemented, and the organization’s approach to education needed to be rethought. Thanks to Rhonda’s vision and leadership, IPAI emerged from this period stronger than ever and well positioned for future growth.
Rhonda’s impact on property assessment in Illinois extends far beyond her chairwomanship of the IPAI Board. From 2006 – 08 Rhonda served as the County Assessment Officers Association Area I Chair. She also served on the CIAO Association Board of Directors for numerous years, including four as chairwoman. Rhonda has contributed as a subject matter expert for new IPAI course development, presented breakout sessions at the State Conference, and been part of the development of IPAI’s Competency Model. In 2011, she was given the Marshall Theroux Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the Illinois assessment community.
Rhonda’s 34 ½ years of service to the people of Will County is no less significant. She first joined Will County as an Administrative Clerk in the Office of the Supervisor of Assessments. She rose through the ranks and was appointed CCAO in 2002. During her tenure in Will County, Rhonda created and fostered the Will County Supervisor of Assessments office tax forums and senior events throughout the county, which promote accessibility and transparency in the assessment process. Under her leadership, the technology used in the office was completely revitalized which enabled the staff to transition from paper to digital records and reporting. Rhonda was also instrumental in leading negotiations for multi-year agreements with several large entities including a Constellation nuclear power plant and two refineries (Exxon Mobil and Citgo/PDV), which kept the tax base steady and predictable for many impacted jurisdictions. In addition, each of the 20 years Rhonda has served as CCAO, Will County received an equalization factor of 1.0000 from the Illinois Department of Revenue. That is a remarkable accomplishment when you consider the exponential growth and change Will County has experienced since the turn of the century.
Not since Leo Haas and Marshall Theroux were leading the IPAI Board of Directors has someone made such an impact on this organization and property assessment in Illinois. IPAI would not be what it is today without Rhonda Novak and for that, she deserves our most heartfelt thanks.
Thank you, Rhonda! Congratulations on a job well done and our very best wishes on your retirement.