GENESEO — Aldermen voted 8-0 Wednesday to hire JoAnn “Jo” Hollenkamp as the new city administrator.

Hollenkamp's base salary will be $100,000, with a $5,000 sign-on bonus. She is scheduled to begin her duties Aug. 26.

Hollenkamp has been city administrator for Carlyle, Ill., population 3,281, for the past six years. She managed more than 50 employees from the municipal electric utility to water, sewer, streets, park, police administration, and library. Prior to that, she worked in the new home construction industry for several large firms.

Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda said it is a big plus to have someone coming on board with municipal electric utility experience.

“Her enthusiasm to be a part of what we have here in Geneseo —  which she referred to as a jewel — was good to see," the mayor said. "We feel that she will be a great fit for our city and will align with our vision to unify our key stakeholders and collaborate to drive sustainable growth while maintaining our small-town atmosphere.”

Hollenkamp said she anticipates there will be challenges on the job but said she is tenacious. 

“She'll run a tight ship,” said Ald. Paula Simosky, 1st Ward. “She really wants to come here. She's come for the past three weekends in a row.”

Hollenkamp noted the city's slogan — Where the future grows — was not just a motto. "It seems like people are living it," she said.
"It sounds corny but it feels like home," she said. "I'm not taking the job because it's an upward career move; your citizens are ambassadors for the city, and I want to be part of that.

Hollenkamp said she said she was astounded at the high school's renovation project and impressed that people were taking advantage of bike paths and enjoying the outdoors.

Hollenkamp began a new career path in 2007 when the housing industry in which she'd been working collapsed. She returned to college, earning a bachelor's degree in information technology from Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Mo. 

She said she was working for a nonprofit when Carlyle's mayor approached her and asked her to consider city administration.

"I was kind of blown away. I said I'd give it a try," she said. "It was an uphill climb."

She said she loved the job, and about three months in decided to get her Master of Public Administration from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, which she did while working 60 hours a week.
Hollenkamp is married, and between her and her husband, they have four adult children, two grandsons and a granddaughter on the way. They also have horses, a Tennessee Walker and two Fox Trotters, which they enjoy riding across Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and South Dakota.

Geneseo considered an initial round of 11 applicants before bringing in a human resource firm, who brought back 16 candidates. The mayor's search committee viewed videos from the top five candidates then brought in the top three for an assessment day with the leadership team composed of all the department heads at city hall. The top two were invited to interview with the city council on July 13.

The mayor said the transition will be smooth, with interim administrator Dawn Tubbs agreeing to stay awhile longer.

“We have been blessed to have Dawn working with us over the past few months and really appreciate all she has done,” she added.

Former city administrator Lisa Kotter was hired in early 2015 at a base salary of $90,000.

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