2020 Annual Report

From the Executive Director

Dear Supporter,

I’m sure you’ve heard this a hundred times before, but 2020 was indeed a year like no other. For an organization like IEC that thrives on the pace of Illinois’ General Assembly and scoring big policy victories each session, the near halt of legislative business forced us to adapt.

However, despite the challenges, our team remained committed as ever to IEC’s mission of building power for people and the environment– and we still managed to put one of our best years in the books yet. When I think about what our team accomplished in 2020, I couldn’t be any prouder.

Jen Walling

For starters, we shifted gears when the legislature packed up shop and used that time to do long-term policy and movement building. For months, we held public listening sessions and calls with our affiliates. Our program staff worked to incorporate feedback from those into the most comprehensive policy platform IEC has ever released. As a result, Illinois’ environmental movement leads together with a clearer voice on our most pressing challenges. 

What’s more, our new platform includes a new Allyship plank, charting out guiding principles for IEC’s approach to supporting the work of our community level, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and environmental justice affiliates so we can be better allies and partners. I invite you to take a look at our robust new platform here. 

Starting in March 2020, when the country went into lockdown, IEC responded by founding our Lunch & Learn series providing a place for our community to gather while also hearing from experts on a range of environmental issues. Since then, we’ve hosted about 50 Lunch & Learn webinars drawing droves of enviros of all stripes. Take a look back at some of the wonderfully diverse topics we covered here.

The last big in-person event we at IEC enjoyed before the pandemic was our Clean Energy Lobby Day– an IEC tradition where we normally bus hundreds of Illinoisans to Springfield to lobby their legislators on top environmental priorities. Then in November, we decided to try a Virtual Clean Energy Lobby Day. We had our largest turnout yet– around 1,000 Illinoisans signed up and we had meetings with over 80 legislators! There were other silver linings too. Holding our Lobby Day virtually made the event far more accessible. We had a much more diverse turnout, with working folks able to pop in on their lunch breaks, students between classes, and more. 

Lobby Day was not the only bright spot; Team IEC grew. We added capacity to our policy team and were even able to help our partners at volunteer-led Clean Power Lake County hire two new team members through our pilot fiscal sponsorship program. Moreover, IEC could take all of this on because we were fortunate enough to have another strong year fiscally. During 2020, we were able to secure the funding needed to close 2020 on firm financial footing, putting us in the perfect position to continue growing our movement even more.

In 2020, we also saw our country continue to reckon with the centuries-old epidemic of racism. As an environmental organization with historically white leadership, IEC contemplated our role within the environmental and racial justice movements and how best to support anti-racist work as an umbrella organization for over 100 diverse groups. At the same time, we also saw environmental justice communities’ health and well-being bartered away by industry-friendly decision makers. 

At the very start of the pandemic, Chicago’s Little Village was cloaked in dust from the demolition of a retired coal plant, which would later be replaced by a warehouse stocked with diesel polluting trucks. Around this same time, one government agency after another approved permits to move serial polluter, General Iron, from the white and wealthy Lincoln Park to the working-class, Black & Brown 10th ward. And beyond Chicago, the downstate town of Centreville has been struggling with sewage system backs up, leaving residents’ yards flooded with sewage. This disinvestment has caused unsafe living conditions and potentially compromised the drinking water of an entire community. Supporting the work of our community-based partners in combating environmental racism is a priority. 

It’s an important time for IEC and the environmental community in Illinois, and we are cautiously optimistic. 2020 challenged us all. We saw many of our partners step up, be it in fighting environmental racism or in helping their community access food and resources during the lockdown. While there was no shortage of obstacles, our community showed up for one another during this unprecedented time, and we couldn’t be prouder to have such resilient members in our movement. We remain hopeful and will continue to push for Illinois’ environment and communities always.

As IEC grows stronger, so too does our community. If you have joined us by taking action, donating, attending a lobby day or volunteering in some way, please know how much we appreciate you.

In community,

Jennifer Walling

Jennifer Walling

 

A New Policy Platform

OUR VISION

Our vision is to create an Illinois where informed decision makers successfully champion the environment and win.

How do we get there?

Following a series of public listening sessions and planning calls with our affiliates, IEC released our 2021 Revamped Policy Platform.

Starting in the summer of 2020, we held a series of statewide public virtual town halls—bringing in over 1,000 registrations—in the key issue areas: open spaces, clean water, food systems, clean energy, transportation & waste reduction. IEC additionally held a Community Council town hall open to community level organizations and activists statewide, which kickstarted IEC’s community council, a new collaborative effort bringing together place-based community organizations from across Illinois. Along with the town halls, we hosted a series of planning calls in each issue area with our affiliates. All of these calls and town halls helped to inform our revamped policy platform, which was ultimately approved by our affiliates and community council members.

COORDINATION

Coordinate a comprehensive legislative agenda that maximizes environmental protection.

ADVOCACY

Lobby decision makers, motivate grassroots action, and hold decision makers accountable.

EDUCATION

Provide timely legislative updates & civic and environmental educational resources to members

ALLYSHIP & POWERBUILDING

Listen to & uplift the on the ground work of our BIPOC, low-income, EJ or otherwise underrepresented partners.

WHO WE ARE

From the Board Presidents

During a year of unprecedented obstacles, the collaborations and active participation of our members and partners like you were refreshing highlights. Amidst that backdrop of obstacles, we’re proud of the Illinois Environmental Council and the IEC Education Fund’s accomplishments and progress protecting and ensuring a healthful environment for all Illinoisans.

The organizations’ growing staff ranks are to be commended for managing the shift to working from home, hosting Zoom gatherings for our partners and pivoting their work plans as legislative opportunities rapidly evolved. These professionals make a very positive impact on our movement.

Anne McKibbin
IEC Board President
Stacey Paradis
IECEF Board President

A highlight from our perspective was IEC’s quick pivot in March, 2020 to hosting virtual Lunch and Learn sessions. This educational series stemmed from the idea that we had much to learn from each other and proved that there was an opportunity, even virtually, to build a stronger environmental movement. IEC members were pivotal to the initiative’s success, showing up in big numbers as participants, presenters and collaborators. This space not only provided a variety of educational content, but a space for IEC’s community to come together even though we could no longer physically be together.

Another highlight from 2020 was, despite the landscape of obstacles and barriers to IEC’s traditional fundraising tactics, the organization came out of the year on strong financial footing. Our financial outlook is secure as we look to 2021 and beyond. Our institutional funders have been resilient in their support of IEC’s conservation, clean energy, clean water and agriculture initiatives. Their support was complimented with that of our growing individual membership program and a profitable virtual gala which have ensured we have the resources to accomplish our goals.

Yes, a virtual gala! This past fall, we went virtual, and brought our community together to celebrate the leaders in our movement and the progress we made while raising funds through sponsorships, ticket sales and a uniquely IEC silent auction.

Overall, this past year we were happy to see the quick & creative responses IEC’s staff took to the pandemic, and the impressive advocacy work they managed to get done in spite of it. The year was certainly not without challenges for any of us, but we’re proud of how IEC and its staff managed this unprecedented year, and we look forward to seeing them take the resiliency, creativity & drive they showed in 2020 into 2021 and beyond. 

Thank you for being a part of our success last year and, we hope, for years to come.

2020 IEC Board of Directors

IEC OFFICERS
Anne McKibbin, President
Kelly Mazeski, Vice President
Delmar Gillus, Treasurer
Andrew Szwak, Secretary

IEC ELECTED DIRECTORS
Delmar Gillus
Beverly Halloran
Dave Kolata
Karen May
Kelly Mazeski
Juliana Pino
Lauren Rosenthal
Mike Tryon

IEC APPOINTED DIRECTORS/LEAD AFFILIATES
Jennifer Baader, Chicago Zoological Society
Elliot Brinkman, Prairie Rivers Network
Jessica Collingsworth, Union of Concerned Scientists
John Delurey, Vote Solar
Josh Ellis, Metropolitan Planning Council
Margaret Frisbie, Friends of the Chicago River
Christie Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund
J.C. Kibbey, Natural Resources Defense Council
Ashley Maybanks, The Nature Conservancy
David McEllis, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Kady McFadden, Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club
Anne McKibbin, Elevate
Pastor Scott Onque, Faith in Place
Andrew Szwak, Openlands
Brian Urbaszewski, Respiratory Health Association

2020 IEC Young Professionals Board

Dean Alonistiotis
Jen Baader
Caitlin Brown
Jesse Carbonaro
Jacki Carmichael
Marc Celani
Naomi Clear
Lucas Cvikota
Christine Del Priore
Nicole Eichelman
Matt Evans
Andras Ferencz
Karin Gredvig
Chelsey Grassfield
Beverly Halloran
Jordan Henderson
Ryan Henderson
Alan Jacobson
Lesley January
Molly Kordas
Marianne Lalonde
Reilly Manz
David Neher
Ashley Parr
Kelsey Rodheim
Erin Slifer
Natalie Snyder
Lynza Sprowl
Teri Valenzuela
Patrick Walsh
Xinyi Wang
Kit White

2020 IEC/IECEF Staff

Jennifer Walling, Executive Director

PROGRAMS
Colleen Smith, Deputy Director
Eliot Clay, Agriculture & Water Programs Director
Tonyisha Harris, Clean Energy Programs Director
Lindsay Keeney, Conservation Director
Iyana Simba, Clean Water Policy Director
Gavin Taves, Energy Policy Director

DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS
Matt Steffen, Chief of Staff
Tucker Barry, Communications Director
Paloma Campillo, Communications Associate
Jeff Shelden, Development Director

OPERATIONS
Crystal Kern, Finance Director
Ben Roth, Researcher & Database Manager

2020 Highlights

01.

Clean Energy Jobs Act

IEC held two clean energy lobby days in 2020– the first before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic amassing around 700 Illinoisans, and our second 2020 lobby day was our first ever virtual lobby day. This format, while a new challenge for our team, proved a success resulting in our biggest lobby day ever with 1,000 enviros. 

02.

Lunch & Learn Series

The pandemic put a damper on quite a bit of the work IEC is used to doing, but it also created a bit of an opportunity for our team to think outside the box about how we work toward IEC’s mission from home, and so, in 2020 our virtual Lunch & Learn Series was born. Since March 2020, we’ve hosted nearly 50 Lunch & Learn webinars, bringing in experts to discuss environmental topics ranging from growing your own food to investing without investing in fossil fuels to so many more.

03.

Lifetime Scorecard

Given the unprecedented legislative session in 2020, IEC was not in the best position to carry out our usual yearly legislator environmental scorecard, but that didn’t stop us! Instead for 2020, we got creative, releasing our first ever Lifetime Environmental Scorecard. This scorecard was informed by decades of environmental voting records going back to IEC’s first environmental scorecard in 1975.

04.

Environmental Justice

Through 2020, we saw warehouses sprouting up in EJ communities, a toxic scrap metal recycler attempting to move into the environmentally overburdened 10th ward, MAT Asphalt continuing to run– despite community opposition– with an expired permit, and that’s just to name a few! IEC was proud to support the quick & critical work being done by our partners in Chicago’s numerous EJ communities this year, and will continue to support & uplift this work through 2021.

05.

Membership

In 2020 IEC reached an exciting new milestone– 100 organizational affiliates! We lean on our affiliates to understand the challenges, interests & work being done throughout Illinois’ many  diverse communities, so with each new affiliate that joins us, our movement grows stronger. We additionally began a Community Council, which is made up of exclusively place-based community organizations, and offers free IEC membership to all of its members.

06.

Conservation

2020 was unique in many ways, one of which was the increase of folks visiting natural areas– state parks, beaches, forest preserves & more! IEC took full advantage of this trend: we celebrated a Get Outdoors Week by releasing our first-ever state parks maps as well as a couple of handy guides to getting outdoors in Illinois and Southern Illinois, specifically. What’s more, in spite of the lockdown, our Agriculture and Conservation teams were able to keep up or longstanding legislator farm tours by taking them to Zoom, letting legislators learn about the green space in their district while social distancing.

07.

Civic Engagement & Democracy

If a history-book-worthy pandemic were not enough, 2020 was also the year of the most important presidential election in our lifetime so far! That said, IEC took to our digital platforms to spread the word to voters across Illinois; we even helped to target districts in the Metro East area with lower voter turnout by regranting some of our funds to our partners at United Congregations of Metro East & Metro East Green Alliance. You can read Jen’s voting blog here to see why IEC put so much work into the 2020 election. Additionally, we didn’t stop at a social media & communications campaign– many of our employees truly showed up on election day, taking on the role of election judge at polling locations in Chicago and Springfield. Read about their experience and why they took that extra step in another blog post here

2020 Finances

Thank you to our donors!

$1000 +

Laura Davis
Christopher Gaggero
Reid McCollum
Anne McKibbin
Victoria Trauscht

$500 - $999

Joyce Blumenshine
Bob Fisher
Steven Gouletas
David Kolata
Nancy Maze

Rob Milburn
Elaine Nekritz
Kevin Ogorzalek
Mariyana Spyropoulos
George Tully

$250 - $499

Steven and NanetteAndersson
Cynthia Broten
Steven Byers
Marc Celani
Christine Del Priore
Barbara Flynn Currie
Bonnie Gahris
Randy Gunn
R Given and Jean Harper
Jolie Krasinski
Nancy Loeb
Marisa Martin
Amy Morton
Rosemary Naseef
Janice Rodgers
John Rogner
Dan Rosenthal
Merrill Smith
Rand Sparling
Sara Spoonheim Amit
John Viebach
Mary Vieregg
David & Sandra Whitmore
Kim Zalent

$100 - $249

Ryan Adams
Craig Agger
Joseph Appell
Peter And Kristine Baldo
Marysue Barrett
John Bartok
Anne Basten
Clark Bullard
Julie Chomko
Thomas Clemens
Rick Courtheoux
Anatole Crane
Manya Crippen
Cameron Davis
Dave Davis
Kay Day
Mary Ellen Declue
Hans Detweiler
Kathrine Dixon
Sylvia Ewing
Stuart Feen
David Finkel
Angela Foster-Rice
Raquel Garcia
Doug Gerleman
Karen Glennemeier
Deanna Glosser
Sheridan Gray
Liam Griman
Mary Griswold
Allen Grosboll
Mary Grose
Deborah Halpern
Amanda Hanley
Virginia Head
Alex Hlavacek
Renee Hoff
Kaylie Honkala
Alice & Bill Howenstine
Kumar Jensen
Larry C. Johnson and Mardell J. O’Brien
Larry Johnson
Ben Julian
Karen Kane
Sandra Kaptain
Kim Kaulas
June & Steve Keibler
Walton Kelly
Todd Kinney
Nance Klehm
Jean Korte
Zach Koutsky
Adam Kreuzer
Karen Lewis
Jennifer Lucas
John Marlin
Janet McDonnell
Barbara McKasson
Robert McKim
Ronald Meissen
Frank Merritt
TW Miller
Julie Moller
Tom Murphy
Andy Neill
Peggy Nelson
Nina Newhouser
Joe O’Toole
Deborah Jo Patton
Judith Pollock
Jo Ann R. Potashnick
Henrietta Saunders
Rita Schnell
Marilyn Schweitzer
Jill Sellers
Eileen Shanley-Roberts
Catherine Shannon
Jessica Sieja
Valerie Sivicek
Kathleen Skoller
Mat Smarjesse
James Smedinghoff
Pamela Smith
Art Spooner
Kim Stone
Benjamin Strahs
Richard Stuckey
Daniel Swartzman
Andrew Szwak
Michael S Thompson
Terri Treacy
Marilyn Turchi
Margaret Van Dyke
Andrew Vesselinovitch
Louise Voegtle
Thomas Von Geldern and Cindy Skrukrud
Jen Walling
Patricia Walter
Kit White
Elsie Williams
Jay Wolff
Virginia Woulfe-Beile

Thank you to our institutional funders!​

Walton Conservation Coalition


Energy Action Fund

League of Conservation Voters

Thank you 2020 Environmental Leadership Gala Sponsors!

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Amanda Hanley Climate Fund
Barnes & Thornburg
BNSF
Chicago Federation of Labor
Chicago Zoological Society
Climate Reality Project
Coca Cola
Perri & Rick Courtheoux
Donnie Dann
Randall Doubet-King
Elevate Energy
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Environmental Defense Fund
Facebook
Charles Frank
Illinois American Water
Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting
Invenergy
JAQ Corp
Leinenweber Baroni & Daffada LLC
Karen May

Kelly Mazeski
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
Scott Moller
Nekritz Amdor Consulting
National Parks Conservation Association
National Resources Defense Council
Openlands
PDC
Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas
Plumbers Local 130 UA
Respiratory Health Association
Lauren Rosenthal & Howard Learner
SEIU
Kelly Shelton
Mariyana Spyropoulos
Heather Steans
The Nature Conservancy
Terri Treacy & Mike Wiant
George and Melissa Tully
Union of Concerned Scientists
Vote Solar
Waste Management

Join us

Get updates on our issues