Our Team

executive director
Jen started as executive director of IEC in January of 2011. In addition to managing the organization, Jen lobbies on behalf of IEC’s member organizations on a wide range of issues.

Eliot leads ideation, drafting and evaluation IEC’s legislative and administrative policy proposals.


Lindsay is focused on protecting open space and clean water resources in Illinois. 


Iyana oversees coalition building, advocacy, & policy for water issues.

Chicagoland Conservation Manager

Tonyisha manages IEC Chicagoland conservation work.


Ariel provides general legal and policy guidance to IEC.

City Energy Policy Coordinator

Dany coordinates IEC energy policy work at the city level.

Development & Communications

Jeff leads IEC’s fundraising efforts, ranging from grant management to individual appeals to event planning.

Communications director

Tucker oversees the IEC’s traditional and digital communications strategy to protect Illinois’s environment.

Communications associate
Finance Director

Crystal began as IEC’s accountant in 2017 before transitioning to Finance Director in February 2019.

Researcher & Database Manager

Ben assists with special projects and maintains IEC database.

Careers at IEC

Jennifer Walling

Jen Walling has served as the Executive Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since January of 2011, where she oversees the strategic direction and management of the organization and lobbies decision makers on environmental issues. Jen is dedicated to building the power of Illinois’ environmental community to secure policy outcomes that protect the environment.

Over the last decade, Jen has worked to grow IEC staffing five fold, increase the budget and member affiliates, all with a focus on serving and representing IEC’s over 90 affiliated organizations. With the board of directors, Jen worked to secure IEC’s partnership with the League of Conservation Voters, a national organization which has helped IEC network and build on a national level.

Jen has drafted, negotiated, lobbied and passed hundreds of bills in Springfield while working to build the power, expertise and relationships of the entire environmental community. On energy issues, she worked to fix the renewable energy portfolio standards and increase energy efficiency through the Future Energy Jobs Act, and as a steering committee member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, she is working to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Jen has been a statewide leader in composting policy since 2009, when she worked to pass the first commercial composting law in Illinois. She has fought to protect state parks and natural areas through increasing funding to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, increasing recreation liability protections and funding stewardship through the Natural Areas Stewardship Act. Through Jen’s leadership, Illinois was the first state to ban microbeads in personal care products in 2013.

Jen holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also received a juris doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law and is an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Jen loves to spend her free time with her rescued standard poodle, Sally. She enjoys baking and in 2015, she and Rep. Kelly Cassidy baked fifty different blondie recipes during May in legislative session. She is a compost enthusiast and loves running, yoga and sewing.

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay has served as the Agriculture & Water Programs Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since December of 2018, providing support and guidance for IEC’s sustainable agriculture priorities and legislative agenda. Eliot is dedicated to ensuring that agriculture, our state’s largest source of revenue, is not depleting our natural resources and negatively impacting our environment.

Prior to his work with IEC, Eliot was a staff member of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus for nearly four years, providing assistance as a Legislative Analyst for the Environment & Conservation Committee and the Agriculture Committee. He also served as a graduate assistant with Illinois Issues magazine and the Springfield-based NPR station.

Eliot earned his undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in Political Science and English Literature, and then went on to obtain a master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Lindsay Keeney

Lindsay Keeney

Lindsay Keeney has served as the Conservation Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since 2017, where she serves as lead staff on IEC’s conservation, open space and river issues. In addition, she supports IEC’s sustainable agriculture and local food programming. Lindsay believes that getting our decision makers out of their offices and into the field where they can see environmental issues and initiatives first hand and build relationships with their constituents in the conservation and agriculture community is the key to passing public policy that makes Illinois a leader in these areas.

Lindsay has served in various conservation roles throughout her career including positions with Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Jim Edgar State Fish and Wildlife Area, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Natural History Survey’s Illinois River Biological Station and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. She currently serves as a network architect for the Illinois Vital Lands Network and is on the board of the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield. Lindsay is trained in controlled prairie burns and is a certified farmers market manager.

Lindsay holds a master’s degree in Biology from University of Illinois at Springfield and a master’s certificate in Geographic Information Services. In her spare time, Lindsay can be found restoring her farmhouse in rural Ashland, Illinois; chasing her 2 year old, Oliver; hiking; fishing; kayaking and instagramming pictures of her dogs.

Iyana Simba

Iyana currently serves as the Clean Water Policy Director at the Illinois Environmental Council. Previously, she served as Clean Water Advocate for a year. Iyana is responsible for overseeing coalition building, advocacy, and policy development related to water issues in Illinois. Her work ensures water issues are salient to both the public and decision makers and that IEC’s policy solutions are adopted in order to better protect bodies of water and the people dependent on them. Iyana believes all Illniosans including those in disadvantaged communities, who are the most harmed by poor water quality, should have a voice in water policy development.

Prior to working at the Council, she attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated with honors with a degree in Public Policy and a Sustainable Cities minor.

Outside of her work, Iyana enjoys engaging in local politics and organizing. She has worked on a successful state senator campaign in Illinois. She is also a member of the Young Democrats of Cook County, the Environmentalists of Color Network and the Chicago Urban League’s Metropolitan Board. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, baking, and thrifting.

Tonyisha Harris

Tonyisha currently serves as the Chicagoland Conservation Manager at the IEC; she was previously the Clean Energy Programs Director. Beginning in September 2019, she has worked with the energy, conservation and Chicago teams on facilitation, organization, legislative education and policy development. Her goal is to create legislative environmental champions and stewards that will advocate for policy that improves green space and conservation job access to BIPOC communities.

Tonyisha is a Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Alumni and previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researching the effects of nutrient loads on the western basin of Lake Erie and for the Huron River Watershed Council as the Communications and Field Intern. Tonyisha was awarded her Open Water Scuba Dive certification in the Galapagos Islands.

She earned a bachelor’s of science with honors in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago. She enjoys singing karaoke, reading books and playing video games in her free time.

Gavin Taves

Gavin Taves

Gavin Taves started as the Energy Policy Director at the Illinois Environmental Council in January of 2020. Within his role, Gavin spearheads energy policy development and analysis, working with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and other key stakeholders to advance progressive environmental legislation across the state.

In his previous position, Gavin worked as a development associate at the Chicago Housing Authority, where he led the agency’s land policy team and generated environmental reviews for major housing developments. Prior to his work at the CHA, Gavin was a fellow with Chicago United for Equity, New Leaders Council and the Chicago Mayor’s Office.

Gavin holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Master of City Planning, specializing in environmental planning, from the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of work, Gavin advocates for racial equity, climate justice and animal rights.

Ariel Hampton

Ariel (ah·ree·ELLE) serves as the Legal & Policy Researcher for the Illinois Environmental Council as of October 2020. She believes in bridging the gaps between the science community and policymakers, and offering practical solutions that protect the public.

Before joining IEC, Ariel worked as Assistant Legal Counsel for the Illinois State Senate in the Office of the Senate President.

Ariel holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geology from Colgate University as well as being a licensed attorney in Illinois. Outside of policy and research, you can find Ariel reading paranormal novels in between mugs of tea and cooking southern-style dishes.

Dany Robles

Dany Robles joined IEC in April 2021, where he engages with coalitions, community organizations, and local elected leaders to advocate for Clean Renewable energy as the Chicago Energy Policy Coordinator. He helps City Council identify best practices to move towards decarbonization of buildings, electrifying the public transit system, and obtaining renewable energy for the city’s utilities. Dany believes that equity must be at the forefront of these decisions, and prioritizes engaging with the community members to understand their needs to obtain these goals. 

Dany holds a Master’s in Criminology Law and Justice with a focus on Immigration Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His experience as a first generation immigrant has given him the lens to connect the issues of racial, social and environmental injustice towards bringing energy policies that can help communities most affected by these issues. 

Prior to joining IEC, Dany served as Regional Organizing Director for Congresswoman Marie Newman (IL-3) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14). Outside of IEC Dany spends time finding new places to stroll and hike, playing some acoustic folk/punk songs on guitar, or reading a book at the park.  

Jeff Shelden

Jeff Shelden

Jeff Shelden has served as the Development Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since 2019, where he leads IEC’s fundraising efforts. Jeff believes enhancing IEC’s financial stability through a comprehensive fundraising strategy built with the support of individuals, affiliate members and institutions is critical to achieving IEC’s mission.

Jeff worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art as their Corporate and Foundation Gifts Officer prior to joining IEC and worked in a variety of roles in a first career spent in the beverage industry. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Denison University. He is a Sierra Club volunteer and avid fan of live music.

Tucker Barry

Tucker Barry

Tucker Barry has served as the Communications Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since early 2019, where he manages traditional and digital communications strategy. Tucker knows that like the sound of a falling tree in an old wood forest, people can’t know about the good work nonprofits do if they don’t hear about it, or even better, see it in action. He believes that it’s up to communicators to bridge that gap between organizations and their audiences.

Before moving to Illinois in 2019, Tucker served as Press Secretary to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D-Louisiana) and ran communications and operations outfits at a handful of progressive advocacy nonprofits in Louisiana.

He graduated from Louisiana State University with a master’s in Mass Communication and a bachelor’s in English, Writing and Culture. When taking a break from what’s trending on Twitter, Tucker enjoys teaching his dog, Elio, new tricks, bouldering and learning about sustainable architecture.

Matt Steffen

Matt Steffen

Matt Steffen has served as the Chief of Staff for the Illinois Environmental Council since early 2018, where he oversees organizational operations and manages IEC’s Chicago office. He believes that organizations owe it to their supporters to be efficient and well-run so staff can stay focused on fulfilling their mission.

Matt is a current fellow of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute. Before starting at IEC in 2014, Matt worked on a successful state representative campaign in Illinois and interned for Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in the United States Senate.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and History. In his free time, Matt enjoys rock climbing, reading (classics & sci-fi), playing strategy-based games and watching Arsenal FC.

Paloma Campillo

Paloma Campillo has served as an intern and Event Coordinator for the Illinois Environmental Council since October 2019, where she coordinates IEC’s Lobby Days, special events and various administrative tasks. She has coordinated two Lobby Days so far, the first bringing in over 500 participants from across the state and the second bringing in over 700, including around 200 youth. Paloma knows that political participation and advocacy are essential to a functioning democracy, so she is proud to facilitate that advocacy where she can.

Paloma has previously worked as a research assistant at the Field Museum doing qualitative data coding and analysis under the Monarch’s View of the City Project. Additionally, she has interned with the Chicago branch of Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) as well as the Kampala-based NGO Advocate’s Coalition for Development and Environment, where she performed qualitative data analysis as well as contributed to the book Local Government in Uganda: Democracy, Accountability And Civic Engagement.

Paloma graduated with honors from Kalamazoo College in March 2019, earning her degree in Anthropology & Sociology with a concentration in Public Policy. In her free time she likes to hang out with her giant wolf dog, Nessie, and her very sweet turtle, Drizzle.

Crystal Kern

Crystal Kern

Crystal Kern has been with the Illinois Environmental Council since 2017 and currently serves as Finance Director, where she oversees and manages all fiscal activity of the organization. Crystal knows that if your goals are too vague, they are still just dreams. She believes that it’s up to the finance staff to help nonprofits realize their dreams through measurable goals and accurate budgets.

Prior to coming to IEC, Crystal was the Controller for the Grand Lodge of Illinois and ran their HR and accounting departments for over seven years. During this time she gained extensive nonprofit experience.

Crystal graduated from the University of Illinois with a master’s in Accountancy. Prior to that, she graduated with honors from McKendree University with a bachelor’s in Business. When not working, Crystal enjoys spending time with her two boys, Aiden and Ethan, and gardening.

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