The Openlands Annual Luncheon


Save the Date: The Openlands 2024 Annual Luncheon

Thursday, October 17, 2024

Hilton Chicago
720 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

Join Openlands for the 2024 Annual Luncheon, where we unite under the banner of “Conserving Nature for Life.” This premier event is consistently recognized as the number one gathering of the conservation community in the region. Last year, we welcomed nearly 1,000 influential individuals, including elected officials, civic and environmental leaders, and community partners. The 2024 event lineup assures another unforgettable occasion. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, click to view our luncheon sponsorship package below or contact Nitsaniyah Fitch at

A professional man in a suit and blue shirt.

2024 Gerald W. Adelmann Conservation Leadership Award Recipient: Arnold L. Randall

Arnold L. Randall is the Executive Director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. He joined the Foundation in January 2024 after serving as General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County for 13 years. Arnold made notable strides in guiding the Preserves to being a more transparent, accountable, and strategic agency. He helped increase tenfold the amount of land under active restoration and increased visitors with a focus on inviting a more diverse audience to enjoy the Preserves. A thoughtful and engaged leader, he has a long history in public service, including serving as a Director in the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago, and in leadership roles with the Chicago Park District. Randall holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago. A lifelong Chicagoan, Arnold enjoys exploring our rich and diverse local natural areas and traveling with his family.

A man wearing glasses relaxing on a wooden bench in a serene forest setting, enjoying nature.

2024 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Drew Lanham

A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, Dr. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. Most recently, he is the author of Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including, Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. Dr. Lanham is a 2022 MacArthur Fellow. An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.

Learn more about past Openlands Annual Luncheons

The Openlands 2023 Annual Luncheon

The Openlands 2023 Annual Luncheon honored outgoing President and CEO Jerry Adelmann’s unparalleled legacy and celebrated Openlands’ 60th anniversary.

The Openlands 2022 Annual Luncheon

The Openlands 2022 Conservation Leadership Award Ceremony honors Adele Simmons lifelong leadership on climate issues.

The Openlands 2021 Annual Luncheon

The Openlands 2021 Conservation Leadership Award Ceremony honored U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s environmental and conservation legacy.

The Openlands 2020 Annual Luncheon

The 2020 virtual journey honored Debby Moskovits for her impactful legacy of conservation and celebrated large landscape preservation around the world.

Meet Our Expert Staff

Monica Jirak Openlands
Director of Development
Nitsaniyah Fitch-Openlands Staff
Individual Giving and External Affairs Specialist
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