IEC STAFF

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.
Programs
Deputy DIRECTOR

Jeff directs IEC’s programs in effectively advancing the organization’s mission.

state PROGRAMS DIRECTOR

Eliot directs IEC’s legislative and administrative policy proposals.

CONSERVATION DIRECTOR

Lindsay directs our open space and clean water work. 

City Programs DIRECTOR

Iyana directs coalition building, advocacy, & policy priorities in our city program.

CONSERVATION RESEARCH MANAGER

Ben manages special conservation research projects.

federal policy director

Brian directs IEC’s engagement on environmental policy at the federal level.

Energy Policy Director

Samira directs IEC’s state energy policy development & implementation.

Legal & Governmental Affairs Manager

Ariel manages legal & governmental affairs in IEC’s state policy work.

Chicagoland conservation Manager

Sergio manages IEC’s Chicagoland conservation partnerships & programs.

Rural Affairs Director

Chad directs IEC’s rural affairs program across central & southern Illinois.

Communications & Development
Communications director

Tucker directs IEC’s traditional & digital communications strategy.

Development director

Jaime directs all grants, development, and donor activities at IEC.

Digital engagement manager

Alongside mobilizing Illinois enviros to action, Paloma coordinates IEC’s community council.

Development Associate

Ignacio ensures that IEC’s wide variety of donors are recognized and engaged.

Social Media manager

Sam is the voice and strategy behind IEC’s social media platforms. Follow IEC today!

Operations
Office Administrator

Aly administers the day-to-day operations of our Springfield office.

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.

Jeff Shelden

Jeff Shelden

Jeff Shelden serves as the Illinois Environmental Council’s Deputy Director. Jeff works with IEC’s program team to ensure that Illinois decision makers are informed by their constituents and our partners regarding the opportunities that strong environmental policies present. Jeff believes that when policy makers understand the challenges facing our communities and our environment they will take action to ensure all Illinoisans have clean and affordable water, clean air and access to the bountiful recreational opportunities and open spaces our state has to offer.

Jeff joined the Illinois Environmental Council in 2019 and served as Development Director for three years, a time during which IEC’s revenue stream saw rapid growth.

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 in the beverage industry. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Denison University. He is a Sierra Club volunteer and attends live music performances as often as possible.

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay has served as our State Programs Director at Illinois Environmental Council since Fall of 2021, having previously served as our Agriculture & Water Programs Director since December of 2018. Eliot provides leadership and guidance for IEC’s legislative and policy agenda. 

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 the 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 the 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 kiddos Oliver and Hazel; hiking; fishing; kayaking and Instagramming pictures of her dogs.

Iyana Simba

Iyana currently serves as the City Programs  Director at the Illinois Environmental Council where she oversees advocacy, coalition building, aldermanic relationships and organizing related to environmental issues before the City of Chicago. Previously, she has served several roles at IEC including Clean Water Policy Director, Clean Water Advocate and Intern. In her most recent role as Clean Water Policy Director, she oversaw policy development, coalition building and advocacy related to water issues in Illinois. Iyana’s work continues to ensure water among other environmental issues are salient to both the public and decision makers.

Prior to working at IEC, 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, painting, hiking and traveling. She is also a member of the Environmentalists of Color Network and the Chicago Urban League’s Metropolitan Board.

Ben Roth

Ben Roth has worked at IEC since the end of 2019, starting off as an intern, then as the IEC’s Research and Database Manager, and currently as the Conservation Research Manager. His job responsibilities include maintaining the IEC’s Power Analysis and assisting the Conservation and Agriculture teams through research, writing and other assignments.

Ben graduated from the University of Illinois at Springfield with a Master’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy. Previously, he graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Springfield with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. In his free time, Ben enjoys reading, spending copious amounts of time writing, and finding new board games to play with friends.

Brian Gill

Brian Gill serves as IEC’s Federal Policy Director, where he leads IEC’s efforts to engage on environmental policy at the federal level. Brian works with IEC members, partners and the Illinois Congressional Delegation to advocate for good climate and clean energy legislation, rules and regulations.

Before joining IEC, Brian consulted for foundations, non-profits and political campaigns on community engagement strategy, campaign execution and program design. Brian worked in legislative affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense in the Obama administration, worked on both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and spent time at a political technology and analytics firm.

Brian earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Colorado and is a proud White Sox fan. Outside of politics, Brian enjoys cooking, golfing, hiking with his dog and buying too many house plants.

Samira Hanessian

Samira joined the Illinois Environmental Council as the Energy Policy Director in the Spring of 2022, where she collaborates with IEC members and partners to implement the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. Samira understands that diverse experiences from equitable collaboration will drive the best path towards a clean energy future.

Prior to joining IEC, Samira served as Research & Policy Manager for the Chicago City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy where she created and promoted the passage of environmental policies. Prior to her work on the Committee, Samira led key initiatives for the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office Sustainability Team. She was also a consultant with MIST Environment and an Assistant Program Manager for the 2019 CommonGround Chicago Conference.

Samira attended the University of Minnesota graduating with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Double Minors in Environmental Science, Policy & Management, and Sustainability Studies. In 2021, Samira earned a Certification of Completion as a Fellow with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute and trained with the Climate Reality Project in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring different neighborhoods, hiking, musical theater, and tolerating her boisterous cat.

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.

Sergio Vargas

Sergio joined the Illinois Environmental Council in the Summer of 2022, where he develops and maintains partnerships with volunteers, individual supporters, affiliate organizations, partner and ally organizations to further IEC’s climate and conservation goals in Chicagoland.

Prior to coming to IEC, Sergio served as a Community Outreach Worker for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), helping students realize their potential and establishing a plan for success. Prior to ISAC, Sergio was a Policy Intern for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, helping to advance the green policies and sustainable initiatives necessary to protect one of the largest land management agencies in the United States. Sergio was also an Urban Public Policy Fellow via the Institute of Policy and Civic Engagement, where he learned from community leaders, advocates, and other experts about organizing, planning, and policy to better address the issues facing underserved communities.

Sergio attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, with specializations in education and environmental policy. In his spare time, Sergio enjoys playing chess, djing, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Chad Wallace

Chad Wallace currently serves as the Rural Affairs Director at the Illinois Environmental Council.

Prior to working with IEC, Chad has been a lifetime farmer. His focus has always been geared toward land conservation and sustainability. For the past 20 years, he has operated Oak Tree Organics producing a large variety of fruits and vegetables. He also raises beef, pork, and lamb. Chad’s products are sold at farmers markets and local restaurants.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family.

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 strategies 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 spending time with his dog, Elio, rock climbing and building out his new saltwater aquarium.

Jaime Gutshall

Jaime Gutshall joined the Illinois Environmental Council as the Development Director in the Spring of 2022, where she oversees all development and donor activities to ensure IEC can continue its mission to advance public policies that create healthy environments across Illinois through education, advocacy, and movement building. 

Prior to joining IEC, Jaime served as the Manager of Feeding Tomorrow, the foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists, and has also worked in a variety of roles at PAWS Chicago. She has worked in nonprofit organizations for almost a decade and has a true passion for helping nonprofits make the world a better place.

Jaime earned her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from North Central College and recently earned her Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University. When not hard at work, Jaime enjoys spending time with her rescued dog Leo and rescued rabbit Carl Fredricksbun, hiking, and cooking.

Paloma Campillo

Paloma Campillo serves as a Digital Engagement Manager at IEC after having entered as an intern and Special Events Coordinator in October 2019. Alongside strategic communications and educational work, Paloma oversees and coordinates IEC’s community council, a collective of community-based organizations from across the state. Paloma knows that political participation, education and advocacy are essential to a functioning democracy, so she is proud to facilitate that work 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.

Ignacio Salinas

Ignacio Salinas began as a Development Associate with the Illinois Environmental Council in late 2021; he works to ensure that IEC’s wide variety of donors receive personalized care. Before coming to IEC, Ignacio worked at the Museum of Science & Industry engaging with and educating the range of people who would visit.

Ignacio received his degree from Fisher College in Business Management. When he is not working he enjoys small, casual gatherings with friends.

Sam Bower

Sam Bower joined IEC in December 2021. He currently serves as the Social Media Manager. He’s excited to use the power of social media to raise awareness of IEC’s environmental initiatives and share the power of communities across the state fighting for the environment. Prior to joining IEC, he worked in communications roles with the North American Association for Environmental Education and the City of Portage. 

Sam graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity. He currently attends Loyola University Chicago where he’s pursuing a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication. 

Sam enjoys swimming, going to brunch with friends, seeing movies, scrolling through Instagram for hours and exploring Chicago.

Aly Mejia

Aly Mejia has been working at IEC since May of 2021 as the Office Administrator at the Springfield office. Her responsibilities are managing the day-to-day operations of the office, organizing the workflow and providing an efficient and organized office environment. She is dedicated to providing support for staff and enjoys the administrative challenges of supporting a diverse organization. When not working, Aly enjoys arts and crafts and playing with her dogs.

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