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For Immediate Release: Conservation Organizations Celebrate the Passage of the Natural Areas Stewardship Act in the Illinois General Assembly

CONTACT: Brandon Hayes, Openlands, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Matt Steffen, Illinois Environmental Council, 847-830-2057, msteffen@ilenviro.org
Gelasia Croom, the Nature Conservancy, 312-580-2175, gcroom@tnc.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – May 31, 2017) Today, the Natural Areas Stewardship Act was passed in the Illinois General Assembly after unanimous approval in both the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Natural Areas Stewardship Act allows nonprofit conservation organizations such as conservation land trusts to conduct needed stewardship and restoration projects on lands enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserve System. By applying for existing state funds, conservation land trusts can assist local and state agencies in caring for the 600+ Illinois Nature Preserve sites that provide habitat to 20% of Illinois conservation priority species.

The following statement was issued by Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council:

“Open space provides real environmental and economic benefits to Illinois’ residents and should remain a consistent priority among decision makers. Conservation Land Trusts are experienced in managing natural areas, and therefore make an ideal partner for a public-private partnership designed to promote stewardship of natural areas.”

The following statement was issued by Michelle Carr, State Director, the Nature Conservancy-Illinois:

“Local land trusts act as invaluable stewards of Illinois’ natural resources. This legislation provides conservation land trusts access to existing funds for stewardship purposes. The Nature Conservancy commends Representative Tom Bennett and Senator Jason Barickman for their leadership on the bill.”

The following statement was issued by Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO:

“The Natural Areas Stewardship Act better protects the last remaining fragments of Illinois’ wildlife and natural landscapes. The Illinois Nature Preserves are living museums, home to tallgrass prairie, oak savannas, sandstone bluffs, ravine ecosystems, and hundreds of rare wildlife species. By accessing state funds that are already dedicated to protecting these natural areas, we can work with public and private landowners of nature preserves to conduct desperately-needed stewardship actions. Openlands sincerely thanks Representative Tom Bennett (R-106) and Senator Jason Barickman (R-53) for their leadership, as well as our many supporters who contacted their elected leaders in support of this bill.”

The following statement was issued by John Sentell, President of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition:

“The Prairie State Conservation Coalition has identified stewardship of our last remaining natural areas as the most important issue facing conservation today and well into the future. The passage of the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act will go a long way to help protect and enhance these gems of Illinois Presettlement Landscapes by bringing private dollars to work with state dollars to provide stewardship to these sites. We thank Representatives Tom Bennett and Charles Meier and Senator Jason Barickman for sponsoring the bill.”

About Illinois Environmental Council
Since 1975, IEC has promoted sound environmental laws and policies in Illinois. We encourage decision makers in the private sector to go beyond minimum standards to establish new environmental best practices. We credit those who lead, innovate, and inspire others to follow their example. Visit us at www.ilenviro.org.

About the Nature Conservancy
Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest conservation organization in the world. Its mission is to conserve lands and waters on which all life depends. www.nature.org/Illinois

About Openlands
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

Prairie State Conservation Coalition:
Founded in 2005, the Prairie State Conservation Coalition represents the 41- Conservation Land Trust in Illinois. Conservation Land Trusts strive to improve the quality of life in their communities through voluntary protection of land, water and other important natural resources.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BOBOLINK MEADOW DESIGNATED AS ILLINOIS LAND AND WATER RESERVE

*** Designation adds over 900 acres to Illinois Nature Preserve System ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – May 22, 2017) Forest Preserves of Cook County and Openlands announce the designation of Bobolink Meadow Land and Water Reserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission on May 9, 2017. The 918-acre reserve is owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and it is located at the junction of Interstate-57 and Interstate-80, near Tinley Park, Illinois. The designation follows nine years of Openlands’ restoration project management, which has been funded through the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA). Restoration improved habitat for pollinators and more than 150 observed bird species, and included more than 300 acres of high quality wetlands adjacent to other conserved wildlife habitat.

“The Forest Preserves appreciate our partnership with Openlands, and their dedication to conserving and restoring land in Cook County. This project is helping us achieve one of our Next Century Conservation Plan goals of restoring 30,000 acres, in addition to adding to the amount of land that is designated as a Land and Water Reserve,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves. “Bobolink Meadow is next to Bartel Grassland, which is also a designated Land and Water Reserve, providing the public with exceptional ecological diversity to explore right here in Cook County.”

“Bobolink Meadow is exemplary for Openlands’ strategic land preservation focus,” explains Emy Brawley, Openlands Vice President of Conservation. “Bobolink Meadow lies in a 2,400-acre network of pristine Land and Water Reserves. By identifying and restoring conservation areas in proximity to one another like these, we create the habitat on the scale needed for wildlife to thrive.”

Bobolink Meadow is adjacent to the 585-acre Bartel Grasslands Land and Water Reserve, and both are in proximity to the 898-acre Orland Grassland Land and Water Reserve. It is home to the second largest bobolink population in Illinois, and it is among the state’s largest Land and Water Reserves. Through OMMA funds, Openlands has impacted 1,466 acres of Illinois Nature Preserves.

The Illinois Nature Preserve Commission promotes the preservation of these significant lands, and provides leadership in their stewardship, management, and protection. The Forest Preserves of Cook County currently has 23 dedicated Nature Preserves and four Land and Water Reserves. Openlands has assisted in the creation and restoration of more than 40 sites in the Illinois Nature Preserves system such as Glacial Park, Goose Lake Prairie, and the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve.

About the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.

Connect with us!

fpdcc.com
facebook.com/FPDCC
twitter.com/FPDCC
instagram.com/FPDCC

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

*** Summer certification course to be offered in Oak Park ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – April 25, 2017) Openlands announces that registration is open for the summer 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. Since 1991, Openlands has trained over 1,800 volunteer TreeKeepers to care for Chicago’s urban forest, identifying potential tree-related problems, and leading neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

Summer 2017 classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 1 through June 27. Weekday courses allow interested individuals with busy weekend schedules a chance to participate in the program. Tuesday and Thursday classes run from 6-9pm at Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center, 167 Forest Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302. Interested applicants may visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The registration period closes on May 31.

The course costs $128. Tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge, and TreeKeepers t-shirt. This summer Openlands will provide five scholarships to local residents and current Village of Oak Park employees.

All certified TreeKeepers go through the TreeKeepers program. Certification includes an eight-day course with classroom and field components; passing a written exam, completing practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledging 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation; and adopting public trees in a park or on a parkway. Two undergraduate or graduate credit hours are available through the College of Education at Aurora University for an additional fee.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

(Chicago – February 21, 2017) Statement by Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann:

Openlands applauds Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to use unclaimed property tax rebates for tree plantings in Chicago. We wholeheartedly support efforts to reduce crime and enhance community wellbeing on Chicago’s south and west sides. Our urban forestry work has supported those goals for over 25 years. Tree plantings not only increase community greening, which has been repeatedly demonstrated to reduce crime and aid community development, but also can be strong drivers of job creation.

Mayor Emanuel’s tree planting allocation of $500,000 is a small part of the proposed $15 million property tax rebate. The Bureau of Forestry’s budget for tree plantings has been repeatedly cut, and under this plan, plantings of 20 trees will take place in all 50 wards, providing substantial public benefit:

  • Trees in Chicago capture harmful pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and improve air quality;
  • Children play outside 10% more in tree-lined neighborhoods, and have lower rates of ADHD and asthma;
  • Trees provide a mentally restorative effect that decreases the incidence of violent crime by measurably improving mental health;
  • They retain storm water to reduce urban flooding across the city;
  • And trees mitigate the effects of climate change, which affects low-income and communities of color most.

This is a small, but vital investment in community development and public health that will yield significant results for all Chicago’s residents.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

(Chicago – February 13, 2017) Openlands announces that registration is open for the spring 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. Since 1991, Openlands has trained 1,800 volunteer TreeKeepers to care for Chicago’s urban forest, identifying potential tree-related problems and leading neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

Spring 2017 classes are held on Saturdays and Wednesdays from March 18 through April 12. Wednesday classes run from 6:30-8:30pm, and Saturday classes run from 10am-2:30pm at McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Rd., Chicago. Interested applicants may visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The application period closes on March 17.

The course costs $128. Tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge, and a TreeKeepers t-shirt. This year Openlands will provide five scholarships to local residents and current Chicago Park District employees.

All certified TreeKeepers go through the TreeKeepers program. Certification includes an eight-day course with classroom and field components; passing a written exam, completing practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledging 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation; and adopting public trees in a park or on a parkway. Two undergraduate or graduate credit hours are available through the College of Education at Aurora University for an additional fee.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

***Local Public/Private Partnership Is In Service of the Public Good***

(Chicago – February 8, 2017) On Tuesday, Wilmington City Council voted to finalize the acquisition of land on the South Island in the Kankakee River.  South Island is connected to downtown Wilmington by the historic Route 66, and the City has developed a vision for the South Island that increases open space and public use options.  The vision recognizes the South Island as a natural attraction that will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region.  To support this vision, Openlands assembled the land from three separate landowners in 2011, and has held the property as interim owner since that time.  Owning the land now gives Wilmington flexibility and control in shaping the future of the site, and plans include developing a marquis gateway. Through working with Openlands, an accredited Land Trust, Wilmington was able to access grant funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to support the project.

“The effort to build onto and utilize a natural attraction like the Kankakee River, which was designated as a National Water Trail last year, will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region,” said Mayor Marty Orr.

“Openlands is pleased to partner with Wilmington on this opportunity to advance open space and economic development goals,” said Openlands Vice President of Conservation Emy Brawley. “The City’s plan to increase open space and public use options on the island is good planning at its best.”

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon Raises Record-Breaking $360,000; Celebrates Connecting People to Nature

November 11, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS 2016 ANNUAL LUNCHEON RAISES RECORD-BREAKING $360,000; CELEBRATES CONNECTING PEOPLE TO NATURE

***Emerald Sponsors were The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Incorporated***

*** 2016 Conservation Leadership Award Honored Sophia Shaw, Former President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden***

The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon focused on welcoming more people to experience the Chicago region’s natural areas. The event raised more than $360,000—a record—for the regional conservation organization. More than 800 guests enjoyed the Keynote by Audrey Peterman about encouraging diverse communities to experience America’s public lands. The Honorable Senator Dick Durbin congratulated Openlands on major regional accomplishments such as Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Sophia Shaw, recently retired President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, received the 2016 Conservation Leadership Award.

“If you succeed in saving a parcel of pristine open space for future generations, you’ve left a great legacy indeed,” said Durbin in his remarks. In her acceptance speech, Shaw referenced the classic Woody Guthrie lyric, “This land is your land, this land is my land…This land was made for you and me,” as embodying Openlands’ mission. She finished by emphasizing the importance of protecting and sharing the world’s natural spaces with everyone. “We need people of all ethnicities to solve climate change and adaptation issues,” said Peterman, recognized nationally as a leader in the movement to diversify the visitors to America’s public lands.

The event was held October 13 at the Hilton Chicago. Emerald Sponsors were The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. Platinum Sponsors were Allstate, ArcelorMittal, Connie and Tony Bischof, Shaun and Andy Block, Bobolink Foundation, ComEd, ITW, Jeanine and Andrew McNally IV, and Northern Trust. Gold Sponsors were Bartlett Tree Experts; BMO Harris Bank; The Boeing Company; Christy Webber Landscapes; Art Collins; Deborah Lahey; Liberty Prairie Foundation; Living Habitats; J. Timothy Ritchie; University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement; U.S. Bank; Ventas;and West Monroe Partners. The Luncheon Committee Co-Chairs were Dominic Kempson Senior Principal, Sector Leader, Environmental Services, US Federal for Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. and Jeanine McNally, former member of the Openlands Board of Directors.

Honoree Sophia Shaw retired as President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this year. During her tenure, she generated an almost 50 percent increase in attendance, emphasizing conservation and education programs for a broad audience, including diverse and underserved communities. Keynote Speaker Audrey Peterman is a nationally recognized leader in the movement to make America’s public lands relevant to every demographic group. With her husband, she co-founded Earthwise Productions, Inc., an environmental consulting and publishing firm focused on connecting the public lands system and the American public.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

About the Openlands Board of Directors

The Openlands Board of Directors comprises Jill Allread; Paul J. Anderson; J. Tyler Anthony; Gary F. Balling; Paul L. Becker; Alan M. Bell; Shaun C. Block (Honorary Director); Richard J. Carlson (Chair); Bill Clarkin; George W. Davis; Anthony T. Dean (Honorary Director); Garrett Handley Dee; Derek R.B. Douglas; Josephine F. Elting; Joseph Fedacsek; Marshall Field, V, (Honorary Director); Dean Fischer; Hugh D. Frisbie; Jonathan C. Hamill; Mark M. Harris; Scott Jamieson; Leslie Jones; Iris Krieg; Carrie C. McNally (Secretary); Molly Meyer; Andrew Otting; Wendy J. Paulson; Steven M. Ricchio (Treasurer);  J. Timothy Ritchie; Jeffrey R. Rode; Charles Saltzman; Jo Ann M. Seagren; and Patrick Shaw.

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For Immediate Release: Largest Gathering of Illinois’ Environmental Community Focuses On Expanding The Diversity Of People Who Experience Nature

September 20, 2016

CONTACT:  Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Tasha Lawson, 312-863-6277, tlawson@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

LARGEST GATHERING OF ILLINOIS’ ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY FOCUSES ON EXPANDING THE DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE NATURE

*** Sophia Shaw is the Conservation Leadership Award Recipient; Audrey Peterman is the Keynote Speaker***

***Dominic Kempson and Jeanine McNally are Committee Co-Chairs; The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. are the Emerald Sponsors***

Protected landscapes, gardens, parks, and open waterfronts that improve mental and physical health should be accessible and inviting for everyone in Chicago’s diverse metropolis. The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon focuses on how we can welcome more people to experience the Chicago region’s natural areas. At the luncheon, Openlands will present former President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Sophia Shaw, with the Conservation Leadership Award in honor of her achievements cultivating the Garden as an international leader in horticulture and public engagement.

The Openlands Annual Luncheon is consistently the largest gathering of conservation-minded organizations, volunteers, and elected officials in the state of Illinois with over 900 attendees expected. It will take place at the Hilton Chicago on October 13 from 10:30am until 1:30pm. A networking reception begins at 10:30am and the lunch and program begin at noon.

Honoree Sophia Shaw retired as President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this year. During her tenure, she generated an almost 50 percent increase in attendance, emphasizing conservation and education programs for a broad audience, including diverse and underserved communities. “One of the beliefs of the Chicago Botanic Garden is that people live better, healthier lives when they can create, care for, and enjoy gardens and places where nature can thrive, a sentiment shared by Openlands,” said Shaw. “When environmental organizations make it a goal to expand audiences—become relevant to all people—we make a crucial investment in the present and future health of the world.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Sophia’s leadership,” states Openlands President and CEO, Jerry Adelmann. “As Openlands continues to connect underserved and more diverse communities to the vital benefits of nature, the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the gems of the region for people to visit and feel welcome.”

Keynote Speaker Audrey Peterman is a nationally recognized leader in the movement to make America’s public lands relevant to every demographic group. With her husband, she co-founded Earthwise Productions, Inc., an environmental consulting and publishing firm focused on connecting the public lands system and the American public. On touring the national parks, Peterman says, “Traveling through the park system, I get a bigger picture of what America really is. It is so much more inclusive of all the races. Everybody has contributed to the greatness of this country.”

Co-chair Dominic Kempson is Senior Principal, Sector Leader, Environmental Services, US Federal for Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience consulting in the management of water resources and natural resources impact analyses. Co-chair Jeanine McNally is a former member of the Openlands Board of Directors and a long advocate of metropolitan Chicago’s natural areas.

For tickets or more information on attending the event, please visit: http://www.openlands.org/openlands-2016-annual-luncheon or contact Jennifer Van Valkenburg at JVanValkenburg@openlands.org or call 312-863-6261.

Media inquiries or members of the press wishing to attend the Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon should contact Brandon Hayes at bhayes@openlands.org or 312-863-6260.

Sponsors as of September 20, 2016

The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon Emerald Sponsors are The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. Platinum Sponsors are Allstate, ArcelorMittal, Shaun and Andy Block, ComEd, Connie and Tony Bischof, ITW, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew McNally IV, and Northern Trust.

Gold Sponsors are Bartlett Tree Experts, BMO Harris Bank, The Boeing Company, Christy Webber Landscapes, Art Collins, Deborah Lahey, Living Habitats, J. Timothy Ritchie, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement, U.S. Bank, Ventas and West Monroe Partners.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

About the Openlands Board

The Openlands Board of Directors comprises Jill Allread, Paul J. Anderson, J. Tyler Anthony, Gary F. Balling, Paul L. Becker, Alan M. Bell, Shaun C. Block (Honorary Director), Richard J. Carlson (Chair), Bill Clarkin, George W. Davis, Anthony T. Dean (Honorary Director) Garrett Handley Dee, Derek R.B. Douglas, Josephine F. Elting, Marshall Field, V, (Honorary Director), Dean Fischer, Hugh D. Frisbie, Jonathan C. Hamill, Mark M. Harris, Scott Jamieson, Iris Krieg, Carrie C. McNally (Secretary), Molly Meyer, Andrew Otting, Wendy J. Paulson, Steven M. Ricchio (Treasurer),  J. Timothy Ritchie, Jeffrey R. Rode, Charles Saltzman, Jo Ann M. Seagren, and Patrick Shaw.

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