Natural Land Institute Congratulates Kerry Leigh, the recipient of the 2023 George and Barbara Fell Award!

The Board of Trustees is proud to recognize NLI’s Executive Director of the past ten years, Kerry Leigh, for her outstanding achievements in land conservation. She was presented with the award at the conservation land trust’s Annual Dinner on April 12, 2023.

Kerry’s work experiences prior to Natural Land Institute included regional watershed planning and Great Lakes restoration work. She brought her regional perspectives and eye for partnerships to her position as Executive Director of NLI.

Kerry will be remembered for her passionate commitment to creative and enhanced partnerships, for creating a collaborative work approach for effective land protection, healthy soil, water and air, and for making land stewardship a priority for NLI. Her imaginative approach to funding has created new sources of ongoing grants, which have funded land acquisition, stewardship staff and special projects.

Under Kerry’s leadership, the Natural Land Institute protected 1,511 acres of land including the acquisition of White Wood Ridge, Townsend Glade, Lost Flora Fen on Raccoon Creek, Richard Conklin Preserve, William and Gayle Keefer Nature Reserve, the additions to Devils Backbone, Lind McGeachie, and Silver Creek Woods, and the donations of two farms: Addison Foss and Schlo-Mar.

Kerry secured $4.8 million dollars in grants, and gifts to NLI Endowment Funds increased $3.4 million dollars since 2013.

During the past 10 years Kerry has dedicated her work to protecting and restoring the natural communities of northern Illinois, including working with rare and globally impaired ecosystems.


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