From the State Journal-Register.
Lynne Wooden had her retirement from a four-decade career in banking planned out for a year and a half.
Then came a call from Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder.
Now Wooden will become the acting director of the city’s Office ofPlanningand Economic Development beginning next Monday.
Wooden, who will make $105,000, won’t go up for city council approval until after the April 4 consolidated general election.
The director’s office has been vacant since late March 2021 when Langfelder fired Val Yazell.
Langfelder and Wooden both worked at Illinois National Bank. Wooden started there in 1981 before going to JP Morgan/Chase as vice president of treasury services in early 1999. She returned to INB as vice president of business solutions in 2012.
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Langfelder approached Wooden about the directorship as she was winding down her career in banking last month, though it took a couple of conversations to bring her on board.
“Honestly, this was a huge decision for me, back and forth and back and forth. When you’re ready to retire, you’re ready to retire,” Wooden said. “But after much discussion with my husband (Lonnie), he said, ‘Why not? I think you’d like it.’
“If I didn’t do this, I knew I would regret it, mainly because there are so many positive things going on right now.”
Langfelder said he had talked to individuals over the last year or so about coming aboard as director, but nobody really wanted to make a change because “it is an exempt position and you have an election coming, so that plays into it.”
Langfelder said he appreciated Wooden’s commitment to Springfield, noting that she formerly served on a Y Block Committee under former Ald. Herman Senor.
Wooden’s husband, Lonnie, spent his career as a barber at several downtown locations starting out at the Forum 30, now the Wyndham City Centre.
“(Lynne Wooden has) always been downtown. She understands small business from that aspect,” Langfelder said. “What I wanted is someone with that business focus.
“I think she was looking for something new. She felt intrigued by it. What she expressed to me is the opportunity to do something for the city she loves.”
Wooden brings “a business culture from the bank to OPED,” the mayor added. “We have some great people there. I’d like to focus more on the business side. Ravi Doshi has done a great job with tax increment financing, the cannabis program and Justine Petersen (which established a microloan fund in partnership with the city and local banks). We’d like to up our game a little big, going to visit businesses and finding what additional challenges they have and how we can help. That’s a coordinated effort because we can’t provide all the solutions.
“She can provide connections with the bank or that (go-between) with Justine Petersen, which helps get people bankable. That’s going to be her greatest asset, her ability to work with others.”
Langfelder said he is confident that if brought Wooden’s appointment before the council, she would get approved “but it will create angst. When I had Summer Griffith appointed (director of Lincoln Library), I didn’t lobby the council members. I stood by her credentials, and I was a firm believer on the direction she wanted to take the library.
“I don’t want to dive into the politics of things and that can happen. That’s why I want to avoid (it).”
Wooden has two grown children, both living in Springfield, and five grandchildren.
She attended Lincoln Land Community College.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, email@example.com, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.