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Join Openlands on October 21 at The Palmer House for the 2022 Annual Luncheon honoring Adele Simmons with the Conservation Leadership Award. From supporting the creation of the first metropolitan greenways and trails plan in the nation to championing early planning efforts that led to the establishment of America’s first National Tallgrass Prairie—Midewin, Adele’s lifelong leadership on climate issues is inspiring. Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer for the National Audubon Society, will give the keynote address. Marshall leads the strategic direction for hemispheric-wide conservation work at Audubon to address the unprecedented climate change and biodiversity crises facing birds. Consistently the largest gathering of the conservation community in the state of Illinois, the Openlands Annual Luncheon recognizes the achievements of environmental leaders in our region and celebrates the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship in our region and world.

James L. Alexander and Shaun C. Block, Co-Chairs
2022 Conservation Leadership Award Recipient: Adele Simmons
Keynote Speaker: Marshall Johnson
Friday, October 21, 2022
The Palmer House

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities click here or contact Nitsaniyah Fitch in the Development Office at nfitch@openlands.org or 312.863.6293.

Conservation Leadership Award Recipient
Adele Simmons

Adele Simmons has been a life-long champion for the environment and an early and consistent voice addressing climate issues. Her early academic life included teaching at Tufts and then Princeton, where she became the youngest dean in its history. She served as the first woman president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts from 1977 to 1989. From 1989 to 1999 she was the second president of the MacArthur Foundation. During her tenure at MacArthur, the Foundation supported Openlands’ efforts to create the first metropolitan greenways and trails plan in the nation and also early planning efforts that led to the establishment of America’s first National Tallgrass Prairie—Midewin. She co-chaired Mayor Daley’s Climate Committee, which was composed of leaders from business and industry. Among numerous civic engagements, she led the 2009 celebration of the centennial of the 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago, in which Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge was singled out as a green legacy project. 

Adele sits on numerous boards, including the Field Museum, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Newberry Library, The American Prospect, the Synergos Institute, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. She served on a number of corporate boards including Marsh & McLennan and First Chicago Corporation. 

Adele is the president of the Global Philanthropy Partnership and has always had significant involvement in global issues. This year The Simmons Center for Global Chicago was established to bring together globally active organizations in Chicago that focus on international issues.  By co-locating in a communal space, nonprofits can better learn from each other, collaborate, and economize through shared services.  Virtual members attend programs and take advantage of a mission-aligned community. 

Adele graduated from Harvard University and received her doctorate from Oxford University in African studies.  She has lived in Oxford, Mauritius, Kenya, and Tunisia.

Keynote Speaker
Marshall Johnson

Marshall Johnson serves as Audubon’s Chief Conservation Officer. In this role, Marshall leads the strategic direction for hemispheric-wide conservation work at Audubon to address the unprecedented climate change and biodiversity crises facing birds. He previously served as Vice President for Audubon Dakotas where he raised more than $50M, spearheading the development and launch of the Northern Great Plains Grasslands project, which has conserved nearly 500,000 acres across the Dakotas, enrolling over 300 farmers, ranchers, and communities. Marshall also served as Vice President of Audubon’s Conservation Ranching (ACR) Initiative, now America’s largest regenerative, bird-friendly land certification, spanning more than 3.5M acres across 16 states. Marshall led the creation of the Urban Woods & Prairies Initiative which has created over 36 new nature parks across North Dakota, creating safe passage for migratory birds while returning over 2,000 acres back to nature and increasing recreational access and ecosystem services across 5 communities.

Marshall serves on the boards of the U.S Prairie Pothole Joint Venture and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust. In his spare time (with his phone at his hip), Marshall busies himself with waterfowl and upland bird hunting, canoeing, tinkering with his muscle car, and cherishing his time with his fiancée Meleah in their restored 1932 Cape cod home in North Fargo.