Mirella Villafuerte promoted to Deputy Director
Cook County Clerk David Orr today named Margie Cusack, of Chicago’s Beverly community, as Director of the Real Estate and Tax Services Division.
“Margie knows the workings of the Tax Services department inside and out,” Orr said. “She has proven – in her nearly three decades of working either with or in my office – to have the depth of knowledge and experience necessary for the director’s position.”
Clerk Orr also promoted Mirella Villafuerte, of Chicago’s West Lawn community, to Deputy Director of Tax Services.
“Mirella has excelled at every task that has come her way during 10 years in Tax Services,” Orr said. “She has worked her way up through the ranks in my office and she has a bright future ahead.”
The promotions of Cusack and Villafuerte follow the retirement of Bill Vaselopulos, whose career with the clerk’s office spanned 32 years, most recently as Director of Real Estate and Tax Services. Vaselopulos retired at the end of 2014.
The Clerk’s Real Estate and Tax Services department has a variety of property tax responsibilities, including: maintaining the county’s property tax maps; calculating tax rates and the valuation of properties; handling the redemption process of delinquent or unpaid taxes sold by the county treasurer’s office; keeping records of delinquent taxes for prior tax years; creating the clerk’s annual TIF report, and producing a TIF Viewer, TIF property search and TIF maps for residents’ use.
Since 1989, Cusack has worked in some fashion on Cook County property taxes. She joined the Clerk’s office in 2012, after 24 years in the County Assessor’s office, where she was head of valuations. In the Assessor’s office, Cusack was responsible for much of the Idaily operations to determine the value of properties throughout Cook County and for bringing modern GIS mapping technology to the process.
“I’m grateful for two years of direct training under Bill Vaselopulos, who taught me so much about the intricacies of the tax extension process,” said Cusack, who has master’s degrees in public policy and political science from the University of Chicago.
Cusack is a mentor at the Harris School, and has taught at the UIC Graduate School of Public Policy. She has been very active in the International Association of Assessing Officers, serving on executive boards and numerous committees. Cusack has also taken part in the “Polar Plunge” into Lake Michigan, to benefit Special Olympics. Margie and her husband Patrick have four grown children; two stepsons and two daughters.
Villafuerte has worked her way up through the ranks of the Clerk’s office over the past 14 years, beginning in the Bureau of Vital Records. She moved to Tax Services in 2005, assisting Vaselopulos with tax extensions. About six months later, she was promoted to Executive Assistant to the Director.
“Mirella has been a part of anything and everything that hits Tax Services,” Cusack said. “I have every confidence in her abilities.”
Villafuerte, a native of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, earned her MBA from the Keller Graduate School, while working full-time and raising her two young boys. “I’ve been working toward this position for many years and I am excited to get started,” Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte will oversee project management and guiding more processes in Tax Services toward automation. The goal is to have even more information more easily accessible to the public, continuing initiatives implemented throughout the clerk’s office. She will also be part of a new initiative to re-engineer the property tax system.
At the same time, Cusack and Villafuerte said they are grateful for the excellent Tax Services staff, who bring tremendous professionalism and empathy to their jobs. “The staff here is so professional and attuned to customer service,” Cusack said.