My name is Patty Henek and I am honored to be running for Village President of River Forest. As a 20-year resident, I take pride in and value our dynamic community. I am a proven community leader, committed to welcoming and respecting all voices.
In addition to currently serving as a Village Trustee, I am: the Coordinator of the Holiday Food & Gift Basket; a Founding Member of LemonAid, a former D90 PTO President, and a current Board Member of A House in Austin.
"When a community works together, we make more informed and intentional decisions that reflect the well-being of all residents and yield outcomes better than imagined."
I value transparency and prioritize representation of the full River Forest community. Collaboration with robust conversations held in the public domain and productive dissent are integral to an effective Village Board. I recognize that policies and procedures form the foundation of our Village’s fiscal health and inclusive culture. I will bring a strategically proactive approach and a heightened prioritization to informed decision-making to the Village Board as its President.
As River Forest’s Village President, my leadership skills will ensure that we as a Village: connect with and represent all residents; collaborate with diverse voices and perspectives; and advance policies that benefit all, not just those who already have a voice at the table.
“If and when they ever start handing out bouquets to Austinites for showing leadership in this community, there is no doubt there will be a hue and cry to include the name of one seven-year resident - George McGuire.....” The Austinite newspaper printed this opening line in an article about my grandfather that ran May 10, 1967 (Austinite Spotlight Shines on George McGuire).
Community service is a way of life in my family. From my grandparents to my parents, aunts and uncles, I had role models who taught me the importance of community and working together for a greater good. Growing up I watched my parents volunteer at church and school as a room parent, school board member, and fundraiser. They were coaches, scout leaders, and our house was often the center of activity on the block.
When my oldest son started at Lincoln Elementary School, I knew I wanted to get involved. During the course of my boys’ tenure in District 90, I held just about every PTO position, including president at both Lincoln and Roosevelt Middle School. In addition, I was a member of the D90 Referendum Committee, a chair of the D90 Community Caucus and a member of the D200 Citizen’s Council.
Outside of school involvement, my community service includes a founding member of LemonAid, a current board member of A House in Austin, a former board member of the Neighborhood Giving Project, and a chair for multiple fundraising events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
I was fortunate I could be a stay-at-home mother while our boys were young, but prior to being a parent I was the Assistant Daycare Director for Hephzibah Children’s Association. I’m currently in my tenth season as the coordinator of the Holiday Food & Gift Basket program.
Through my vast community engagement, I recognized the importance of local governance. I felt I had the experience and leadership skills that would benefit the village board. In 2017, the community agreed and I was elected a Village Trustee.
During my tenure as a Trustee, I have demonstrated a will to research, question and listen to experts and residents on issues before the Village Board to drive broad-based, well-informed and data-driven decision-making. I was prepared when I voted on a range of topics including: a Welcoming Resolution, three large development projects, multiple zoning variance requests, the North Avenue Tax Increment Financing (“TIF”), property acquisition, a Comprehensive Plan, an Affordable Housing Plan, a comprehensive parking study, multiple budgets, and Capital Improvement Plans.
Patty embodies inclusive leadership. An engaged listener, Patty is intentional to foster authentic community relationships. As Village President, Patty will ensure that all River Forest community members feel seen, valued, respected and a true sense of belonginess.
Patty is a collaborative, empathetic and steady leader. She recognizes the value of constructive discourse as it impacts the depth of dialogue and enriches outcomes. As Village President, Patty will prioritize a vibrant, healthy and respectful Village Board that is committed to making well-informed decisions on behalf of our community.
Patty is a strategically proactive and fiscally responsible leader. An informed decision-maker, she brings valuable data-driven assessment to policies, opportunities and community engagements. As Village President, Patty will work with and for our community so that River Forest continues to thrive and grow with intention.
What people are saying
"I first noticed Patty Dassinger Henek over two years ago when my neighbors and I were meeting with village administration and Union Pacific regarding the UP Third Mainline Expansion. She stood in the back of the room and observed our hours-long heated exchange. She didn’t have to be there, she came because she cared about her constituents, no matter who they were, no matter that she didn’t know us. She showed up and listened because it mattered to her.
In the following years, I have seen her stand up for citizens, transparency and process. Even when standing up isn’t popular. Patty Henek isn’t afraid to ask tough questions. Patty Henek is a careful deliberator, one who strives to make measured decisions and has a passion for getting things right the first time with all of the information she needs at hand. Patty Henek thinks through the long term consequences. Patty is deeply concerned with fairness and equity and has been consistently deepening that engagement as long as I have been observing her work on the River Forest Village Board of Trustees. I think Patty Henek would make an admirable Board of Trustees President."
"It is easy to notice the qualities which make Patty a great leader. She's personable, organized, logical, a clear communicator. What takes a little more time is seeing that she consistently values all the right things - building community, broadly involving people, and a dedication to others. When we initially moved to the adjacent block, Patty warmly welcomed us. She also invited us to help organize the 9-11 charity LemonAid stand, which she co-founded and has run for 20 years to benefit kids in River Forest and neighboring communities. This spirit is in every of the many interactions and actions I've witnessed: organizing holiday gift and food baskets, advocating inclusive village board decisions, encouraging twin suburb status for Maywood, keeping block spirit high during the pandemic. She leads by example and brings people together to make things better. Listen to her - and you will hear a voice and advocate for all.
"I first met Patty at the first River Forest Deer Committee meeting and later because of our shared interest in supporting the Black Lives Matter local activities. Patty is someone who is very committed to serving the community and creating a better place for all to live. She isn’t shy about meeting people and if necessary, jumping in and getting her hands dirty with work.
Patty has demonstrated her passion and ability to listen to the community and lead various projects. I endorse her as the next River Forest President.
"Patty Henek will make an excellent River Forest Village President. We have worked closely with Patty since 2011 when she succeeded us as coordinator of HFGB, a long-standing community program that annually provides food gift cards and holiday gifts to more than 2000 individuals in Oak Park and River Forest. We have had the opportunity to see first-hand her deep dedication to our community and commitment to helping our neighbors. She has a unique ability to manage the needs and interests of a broad variety of people. Her intelligence, willingness to tackle difficult issues, problem-solving skills and work ethic, make her an ideal candidate for Village President. We are proud to support her."
"I was able to watch Patty during the hearings on the Affordable Housing Plan. She was incisive, tied together various strands of the problem while identifying inconsistencies in how the Board has tackled – or not tackled -- other issues to show how this was happening again before our eyes. She is the Katie Porter of the River Forest Board, measured, very thoughtful, and one who thoroughly does her homework. With Patty as Village Board President, River Forest will be in top-notch, competent and confident hands."
"I am supporting Patty Henek because change can become stagnant with the same people in charge. I think the Village is doing good, but new ideas and a fresh approach is needed. If the last six months have taught us anything with COVID-19, and social justice issues, change is not always welcomed but it just might be the thing we need to move a little farther ahead. Patty Henek has proven that she is not always going to say yes, but she will ask the right questions before coming to a conclusion on issues that affect all of us."
"I support Patty Henek for Village President because I believe in her creative and innovative commitment to community. One demonstration of her heartfelt community commitment is in the success of the Lemonade 911 charity fundraiser.
I support her strength in often being the lone “lioness” as a Trustee on the current Village Board. Patty calls for critical unbiased data in order to make sounds decisions. She champions processes supporting fully transparent debate necessary for honing decisions. She vigorously seeks collaborative community input for inclusive initiatives. She strives for transparency and accountability on vendor contracts. Patty encourages the Board to evaluate decisions through the lens of inclusion versus exclusion. One such example occurred during the Board’s consideration of the Red-Light Camera plan. Patty called for more data to proactively understand how the proposed program would impact neighboring, less affluent and more ethnic minority skewed, communities.
I believe Patty’s approach to governance is what is needed to advance the River Forest Village Board towards inclusion and accountability. I believe Patty is the leader that will establish governance that gives no home for the perception and/or reality of cronyism, as exemplified by the languishing Lake and Lathrop “contamination clean-up & development project.”
Patty Henek is the River Forest Village Board President we need to connect, collaborate and advance established, recent, and future River Forest residents"
"I have had the honor and privilege of working alongside Patty for many, many years; working in solidarity four our schools and our community.
Patty puts her heart and soul into everything she attaches herself to and I have full faith that she will do the same when she becomes the president of River Forest. I am thrilled to endorse her."
"I am supporting Patty Henek for Village President as I believe world and local events demand a leader who embraces robust public discourse before decision are reached.
As a Village Trustee, Patty has demonstrated principled independence and will welcome this as a leader at the board table as well as on commissions and committees.
As a community builder, Patty has always sought to include diverse views in her decision-making.
River Forest has a proud tradition of electing strong women and I believe Patty is the woman for the River Forest of tomorrow."
"I am proud to endorse Patty Henek for River Forest Village President. I believe our community and our Village Board will benefit greatly from Patty’s authentic, independent and strategic leadership as exemplified by her contributions as a current Village Board Trustee and as a River Forest community member.
When I first reached out with my support of her Candidacy, I shared with Patty that, “I have been impressed with your pragmatic, rational approach in addressing matters before the Board; your grace and grit in navigating the fairly toxic current Board culture; and, I appreciate your leadership of an inclusive River forest, not only as “window dressing” with words but with actions and policies. Therefore, I am thrilled to see that you are running for Village President!”
As River Forest’s Village President, Patty will lead a vibrant, constructive and respectful Village Board. She will prioritize a Board foundation of community representation, transparency in communications and informed decision-making. Under her leadership, the Village Board will strategically contemplate and positively impact the well-being as well as the fiscal health of River Forest residents and out businesses, ensuring that our community thrives and grows with intention."