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Meet The Board

Claudia Emken, Chairman
Yates City-appointed to the Board in 2006

Pat Kernan, Vice Chair

Terri Treacy
Golconda-has been employed by the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter as the southern Illinois habitat conservation field organizer since 2001. She has served on the board of directors of the Illinois Audubon Society since 1999, as Vice President since 2009, and as a founding member and board member of the local chapter of the Society since 1993. She has also held the position of resident site-manager for the Society’s 500-acre War Bluff Valley Sanctuary in Pope County since 2002. She enjoys anything to do with nature, including bird watching, deer hunting, fishing, hiking, and photography.

Dr. Brian Anderson

Dr. Timothy Collins
Timothy Collins has been Assistant Director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) since 2005. Collins has helped author more than 125 publications, reports, and essays on diverse rural issues, including environmental policy, economic development, sustainable land use, and education. His current research interests include sustainability and rural communities.  Mr. Collins is co-editor of the Community Development Society’s monthly Vanguard e-newsletter. He also authors IIRA’s monthly column, Illinois Rural Perspectives, that is distributed to newspapers throughout the State and is a regular contributor of essays to, which covers the spectrum of rural issues. In addition, he is a member of the Prairie Land Conservancy board of directors.  Before coming to IIRA, Collins was an educator with Penn State Cooperative Extension. As leader of the Capital Region Economic and Community Development Team, he was responsible for land use education, leadership, and agricultural economic development.  Dr. Collins also was director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools in Charleston, West Virginia. As director of research at the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center in Lexington, Dr. Collins worked with communities on comprehensive planning and project evaluation, researched parental participation in schools, and managed mapping and other research functions.  Collins has a Ph.D. in sociology (rural) from the University of Kentucky, an M.S. in agricultural economics from West Virginia University, and a B.A. in journalism from The Ohio State University.

Dennis Ferrell
Herod-a self employed, heavy equipment operator specializing in custom conservation land improvements. He previously worked for the Operating Engineer's Local 318 and also worked in the mining industry. Dennis is involved in and a member of Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and the Pope/Hardin Farm Bureau.

Richard T. Wren Jr
Oak Lawn-is a Labor Consultant for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local #399. Currently he is serving on various committees pertaining to civic and professional organizations. He enjoys the outdoors, hunting, boating and fishing (catch and release). Mr. Wren was appointed to the board in 1996.

Larry Lucas
Chicago-appointed to the Board in 2002. Mr. Lucas has over 15 years of experience in the gaming and technology industries development projects in the United States, Europe, Africa and Latin America. For the past 8 years Mr. Lucas served as an Advisor and Chairman of the Board of (2002-2003). Youbet is the leading technology and service provider for interactive wagering worldwide through its exclusive closed-loop network that features live horse racing from a choice of all major racetracks in the U.S. and Canada, He also serves as president of Conor Communications, the nation's largest provider of emergency services support to the cellular and wireless communications industry. Mr. Lucas' involvement with the Chicago community has positioned him as an active participant in key organizations such as the Department of Natural resources and the Max Mac Graw Wildlife foundation.

Joe Pearson
appointed to the Board in 2005

Dale Stewart

Michael Howard
Founder and CEO of Fuller Park Community Development (FPCD). Since 1992 he has led the community in addressing socio-economic and environmental issues that impact his constituents of 4,200 families. He has worked tirelessly to procure more than $150 million capital improvements within the Fuller Park Community. These critically needed funds were allocated for major projects, such as the elimination of lead contamination and the reclamation and remediation of acres of vacant land being illegally used as toxic dumping grounds. The Howards also founded Eden Place nature Center. A 35 year old illegal dumpsite transformed literally by hand into an urban oasis. Touted by many as the first African American urban nature center designed, built and managed by a local community of color. The nature center exists to educate youth and their families about Environmental stewardship using the bio-diversified environment of a wetland, prairie and woodland.  Mr. Howard has lectured extensively at national and local organizations and colleges and provides environmental stewardship and urban forestry training at Eden Place Nature Center, National Audubon Society, Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and City of Chicago Green Corps and Departments of Environments C-3 Program.  Mr. Howard serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Conservation Corps., City of Chicago C-3 Program, as well as numerous private boards.