NLI Board of Trustees and Affiliations
“Perhaps nobody before us had seen the need or been able to set aside natural areas. And those that follow will no longer have the chance. They will only be able to care for what we leave them.” ~ George B. Fell
Electrical Engineer Manager, Sundstrand /UTAS (retired)
She has been fortunate to hold four uniquely different jobs in her work life, retiring as Deputy County Administrator in 2004. Highlights of her county work included coordinating the county’s Balanced Growth Initiative and the Green Communities Environmental Vision. Once retired, she consulted for two years with the county Economic Development office and then went on to create MarketWorks, a small business specializing in print marketing, photography and event planning.
In 2016 she was elected to a second term as a Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Commissioner, and she also serves as an Associate Director of the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Judy previously served on the NLI board and is a past President. She has continued to be very involved with NLI by serving on several committees, coordinating silent auctions, and chairing the biennial Party on the Prairie fundraiser. Judy feels that the work of NLI is extremely important to the sustainability of the region.
Retired, Environmental Science Educator
Executive Director, Kane County Forest Preserve (retired)
President and Chief Investment Officer, Investors Management Group (retired)
Professor of Mathematics, Rock Valley College (retired)
Rob grew up in northeast Ohio in close proximity to several of the 18 preserves in the 23,000-acre Cleveland Metroparks System. Some of his earliest memories involve playing with friends in forests and creeks. His father introduced him to camping and nature photography, which remain passions to this day. When he moved to northern Illinois in the 90s for a teaching position at Rock Valley College, he was introduced to the Natural Land Institute.
The spring of 2002 was Rob’s first formal connection to NLI when he signed on to help establish a bluebird nest box trail at Nygren Wetland Preserve. To this day he still helps maintain and monitor that trail. Over the years, Rob has also participated in various volunteer work days, restoration projects, prescribed burns, planting and seed harvesting projects. His wife Cassie and daughter Emma have occasionally joined him in some of those activities. The natural world is very important to the entire family.
Rob feels that volunteering with NLI for two decades has kept him close to nature. He doesn’t hesitate to tell people that helping protect natural areas in northern Illinois gives him an immense sense of pride. He is honored to take that service to the next level and serve as a member of NLI’s board of trustees.
John R. Cook, III
Landscape Architect and Designer, John R. Cook Associates
John is a landscape architect who has worked with the private and public sectors for decades and brings a scope of knowledge and understanding about how a natural environment can be enjoyable and encourage healing of the mind and body.
Broker, Dickerson & Nieman Realtors
Ricardo Montoya Picazo
Ricardo was raised in Central Illinois and in 2015 he moved to Rockford for work. Currently, he works as the Chief of Staff for State Representative Dave Vella, Illinois 68th District. He serves in multiple Rockford community boards and advocates on issues that affect our communities of color. Outside his social and political work, Ricardo loves fishing, hiking, and wildlife.
Urban Planner, Gary W. Anderson Architects
Co-Owner, Lindstrom Travel
Daniel L. Swift, M.D.
Physician, Rockford Urological Associates (retired)
Retired, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Nancy served for five years on the board and as President of the McHenry County Conservation District, and 15 years on the McHenry County Conservation Foundation and on two referendum committees, ultimately bringing $141.5 million in open space funding to McHenry County, IL.
Nancy was a recipient of the 2010 United States Department of Interior “Partners in Conservation” Award for her work with Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure and received the award again in 2012 for her role in helping establish Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. She currently serves as Board treasurer for Friends of Hackmatack NWR. She is an accomplished graphic artist/illustrator and helps many not-for-profits with free or cost effective graphic design, including interpretive signage at NLI’s Nygren Wetland Preserve.
President, Midwest Packaging and Container
Rob Young was born and raised in the country at Everbold Farm in Kirkland, Illinois and has had a curiosity and passion for the natural world from a young age. An avid outdoor adventurer, Rob has sought out natural beauty in places such as New Zealand, California, Utah, Arizona, Georgia and Virginia, but when he is home you can find him hiking along a Northern Illinois trail. Professionally, Rob is the owner and President of Midwest Packaging and Container, a tennis teaching pro at Forest City Tennis Center, and the assistant editor of FutureSox.com. Rob is a 2015-2016 alumni of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rockford Program, a member of Next Rockford, and Vice President of the Rockford Young Professionals Meetup group.