President & CEO Gerald W. Adelmann joined Openlands in 1980 to coordinate a special program that led to the creation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the first federal land designation of its kind. Today, there are more than fifty federally designated heritage areas across the United States.
In 1988, Jerry was appointed executive director of Openlands. Under his guidance, Openlands launched the 21st Century Open Space Plan, which called for expanded parklands, greenways, and trails in northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. His leadership in creating the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie; in preserving the rare and scenic landscape at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve for public enjoyment; and many other conservation and preservation accomplishments has earned him numerous honors and conservation awards. In 2012, the Chicago Botanic Garden awarded him the prestigious Hutchinson Medal.
Jerry is chairman of the Center for Humans and Nature and an emeritus member of the National Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He also chairs the City of Chicago’s Nature and Wildlife Committee, where he played an integral role in the initiation and recent completion of the Chicago Nature and Wildlife Plan, and is a member of several other boards and commissions.
Jerry has been involved in conservation and historic preservation projects in China since the early 1990s. He lectures extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Jerry has received an honorary doctorate from Lewis University and is an honorary member of the American Association of Landscape Architects.
- B.A., Georgetown University, Washington, DC
- M. Phil., George Washington University, Washington, DC
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