Openlands announces 2024 Annual Luncheon: celebrating the inaugural Gerald W. Adelmann Conservation Leadership Award and “Conserving Nature for Life”


This annual event is consistently recognized as the premier gathering of the conservation community in the region

Huan Song, Director of Communications
(312) 863-6153

Yamys Urbano Valencia, Bilingual PR and Communications Specialist
(415) 712-5427


(CHICAGO, JULY 8, 2024) Openlands, one of the most prominent metropolitan conservation organizations in the region, and among the first in the nation, is thrilled to announce its highly anticipated 2024 Annual Luncheon. This event will take place on Thursday, October 17, 2024, at the Hilton Chicago and is co-chaired by esteemed civic leaders, Gloria Castillo and Steve Koch.

The Openlands Annual Luncheon is a cornerstone event that brings together passionate individuals, corporate partners, and community leaders who share a deep commitment to preserving and protecting nature in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. In 2023, the event welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees as part of the organization’s 60th anniversary celebration.

This year’s luncheon promises to be an inspirational gathering of conservation leaders, including Openlands’ new President and CEO, Michael Davidson. “This is an unprecedented and exciting time for conservation. Increasingly, as our region and indeed the world look to nature for healing, community, and solutions, the Openlands tagline – “conserving nature for life” – becomes ever more poignant,” said Davidson. “I look forward to exploring this call to action in our program and hearing the wisdom of our speakers as they share what it means to conserve nature for life.”

A highlight of the luncheon will be the presentation of the 2024 Gerald W. Adelmann Conservation Leadership Award to Arnold L. Randall, Executive Director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. Randall joined the Foundation in January 2024 after serving as General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County for 13 years. This award recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the environment and has celebrated leaders at the intersection of conservation and advocacy, community organizing, planning, academia, and the arts.

This award was renamed in 2024 in honor of Openlands’ immediate past President and CEO, Gerald W. Adelmann, who was the recipient last year. The award not only acknowledges outstanding achievements, but also fosters a collective spirit of environmental responsibility, reminding us all of the profound impact that dedicated individuals can have on our community and planet.

“I’m honored to support Openlands as the premier organization advancing the health of lands and waters in one of the most ecologically and culturally diverse regions in the world. Tree-lined streets and accessible, high-quality parks and natural areas matter to all, and are of special importance in disinvested places where the healing power of nature is most needed. Openlands uses its power and privilege as a leader, collaborator, and innovator to position nature as the great equalizer for us all,” said Gloria Castillo, event co-chair.

On this occasion, attendees will also hear from Dr. J. Drew Lanham, who will be the 2024 keynote speaker. Dr. Lanham is a renowned author, naturalist, and distinguished professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University. His speech promises to include compelling storytelling and a unique perspective on the intersection of race, culture, and the natural world to inspire and enlighten attendees.

“More than 60 years ago, the visionaries who created Openlands knew that for regions to thrive, nature must be easily accessible to everyone,” said Steve Koch, luncheon co-chair. “Now more than ever, in our globally competitive world, it is clean air and water and beautiful landscapes that drive progress. Openlands continues to play a vital role in leveraging nature to make the greater Chicago metropolitan area a magnet for resources, talent, and financial capital,” said Koch.

The 2024 Openlands Annual Luncheon is a platform to build brand awareness and community engagement and Openlands’ sole fundraising event of the year. Openlands invites corporations, organizations, and individuals to become sponsors of the luncheon. “I am particularly excited about the new sponsorship opportunities available,” said Monica Jirak, director of development at Openlands. “These opportunities will allow sponsors increased exposure while helping to expand our footprint and support our vital conservation efforts. We look forward to an inspiring and impactful gathering.”

For more information about the 2024 Openlands Annual Luncheon, including sponsorship opportunities and ticket sales, please visit our website or contact Lai Smith at


Related Posts

Scroll to Top