Cheryl Fayne-dePersio is a link between Northbrook’s past and present.
Along with administrative assistant Janet Palmer, she is one of two village employees to have worked, however briefly, in the old village hall. Located on Cedar Lane between the library and the site of the current village hall, the former one was torn down in December 1990.
At that point Fayne-dePersio was just getting started as Northbrook’s communications guru. Now, after an influential 30 years in the position, her last day will be Friday, Dec. 4.
“Building all the relationships that I have over the past 30 years is one of my favorite accomplishments, because I’ve met so many wonderful people that have made Northbrook such a special place,” she said. Her colleague, Palmer, will be retiring in January.
Over the years, Fayne-dePersio has served as the village’s cable coordinator, public information officer, communications manager and, currently, communications specialist.
Being a quadruple threat enabled her to create those relationships within Northbrook municipal government and with people from outside agencies, such as the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and even the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
It’s not dull.
“Every day, sometimes every minute, is different,” she said. “I’ve worked as the newsletter editor for many years, and there’s always news to put in.”
She’s seen and implemented a number of Northbrook communications “firsts.”
The first village Facebook post. The first emergency mass notification.
Using her background in television production and her Illinois State University communications degree, she presided over the first Northbrook board meeting televised on cable. Later, she was there for the first board meeting streamed on the village website.
Changes in technology have been multifold over her career. The hundreds of shows she executive-produced for the village, such as the “Talk Around Town” series, came to residents via public access television.
“Of course, this was before the internet and YouTube and Facebook. We didn’t even have email then,” Fayne-dePersio said.
Nope. She had something called “speed letters,” written memos that bounced back and forth between people.
She was on the ground floor of the Northbrook Notify system that distributes weekly newsletters and contacts members of the system of emergencies. Fayne-dePersio has been a staff liaison to several government commissions, including the 2001 Centennial Committee.
She helped found the Northbrook Communicators, which helps communications specialists representing various village entities promote each other’s events and shares ideas to hone their own. She’s been a member, at times a board member, of county, regional and national communications groups as well.
2016 was a hoot. She participated in Ferris Fest to commemorate the 30th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and dealt with the nutty case of an albino Western Diamondback Rattlesnake someone apparently had ditched in Wood Oaks Green Park.
Herpetology. Now, that was something new.
“It was a whole communication exercise in dealing with a rattlesnake in the North Shore,” Fayne-dePersio said.
She’s got a variety of interests — snow skiing, pottery, photography — but no firm plans for retirement.
“My plans right away are to do nothing. Relax, regroup and spend time with family,” she said.
Fayne-dePersio spent three decades creating a second family.
“Working as a public servant for the community is always more than meets the eye,” she said.
“The relationships you build with all the different departments — police, fire, public works, our development and planning department; the inspectors, people who work in the front lines, the first responders; or the people at the front desk — all the passion that goes into making a community, I’m going to miss everyone.”
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December 2, 2020 at 05:04AM