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.
Government Affairs Assistant

Blake assists our government affairs team in executing IEC’s state advocacy strategies. 

Chief of Staff

Chelsea ensures that IEC on track to meet our ambitious goals.

Policy Manager - Climate Programs

Stephanie manages climate & transportation policy, education, & strategy.

Land Use Programs Director

Eliot directs IEC’s sustainable land use policy priorities.

State Government Affairs Director

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


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


Lindsay directs IEC’s conservation, open space, and river work.

Zero Waste Policy Manager

Liz manages advocacy, coalition building & organizing related to zero waste issues at IEC.

Climate Policy Program Associate

Francisco run climate policy education & workforce development initiatives at IEC.

Legislative Relations Director

Dany directs IEC’s climate and transportation policy development & implementation.

City Programs DIRECTOR

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

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.

Municipal Engagement Manager

Angela manages IEC’s efforts to help implement the Inflation Reduction Act.

Communications & Development
Communications director

Tucker directs IEC’s communications strategy.

Social Media Manager

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

Digital Engagement Manager

Alongside mobilizing Illinois enviros, Paloma coordinates our community council.

Development Associate

Danny ensures that IEC’s wide variety of donors is recognized and engaged.

Development director

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

Climate Communications Manager

Hannah manages IEC’s climate communications planning & execution.

Grants Manager

Meredith manages, strategizes, and tracks IEC’s robust grants portfolio.

Communications Associate

Max Touchette

Max assists with event coordination, copywriting, & IEC’s Community Council.

Office Administrator

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

HR & Operations Manager

Lauren manages our human resources work, supporting the well-being of our staff.

Careers at IEC

Jennifer Walling

Jen Walling has served as the Executive Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since January 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 fivefold and increase the budget and number of member affiliates, all with a focus on serving and representing IEC’s affiliated organizations. With the board of directors, Jen worked to secure IEC’s partnership with the League of Conservation Voters in 2018, a national organization that 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.

As a leader in climate policy, Jen has been at the frontline of lobbying and passing bills that will advance renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction, including the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in 2021, and laws to simplify local siting of utility solar and wind projects in 2023.

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 by increasing funding to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, increasing recreation liability protections, and funding stewardship through the Natural Areas Stewardship Act.

In 2022, Jen was recognized by Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40. She is also a two-time winner of the Capitol Fax Golden Horseshoe, once in 2023 for best in-house lobbyist and again in 2014 for best do-gooder lobbyist. She is also an Edgar Fellow (2018), New Leaders’ Council Fellow (2011), and Truman National Security Project (2012).

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 the May legislative session. She is a compost enthusiast and loves running, yoga, photography, and sewing.

Blake Andonov

Blake Andonov joined the Illinois Environmental Council in the Spring of 2023 as the Government Affairs Assistant.

Prior to joining IEC, Blake worked in the Clerk’s Office for the Illinois House of Representatives as the Information Resource Clerk, gaining key experience interfacing with legislators directly on the House Floor and in committees. Blake valued the up-close look at how decisions are made at the Capitol but wanted to be a part of making those decisions. That is why he joined IEC, so he could work directly with legislators to influence environmental legislation.

In his free time, Blake and his partner spend most of their time planting native flowers and trees in their almost three-acre yard. They also enjoy rock climbing and camping with their dog, Whiskey.

Chelsea Biggs

Chelsea Biggs joined the Illinois Environmental Council as Chief of Staff in Fall 2023. In this role, she leads the programs and legislative teams and oversees the affiliate engagement strategy. Chelsea supports the organization’s internal structures during this extraordinary period of growth, ensuring smooth staff function across departments and effective communication within the organization.

Prior to coming to IEC, Chelsea worked on the national, state, and hyper-local levels in economic development, youth services and system diversion, and youth mental health. She brings a passion for bringing together public, private, and nonprofit entities to execute on solutions for large scale, systemic issues. Her career has focused on strategies for building capacity for nonprofit organizations through strong training and technical assistance programs.

Chelsea has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Northeastern University with a concentration in urban studies as well as a Bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in anthropology. Chelsea is also a member of the Chief of Staff Association. Outside of work, you might find Chelsea enjoying time with her husband, two daughters, and dog in the city.

Stephanie Blumenthal

Stephanie Blumenthal joined the Illinois Environmental Council as Policy Manager for Climate Programs in spring 2024. In this position, she is responsible for assisting with climate policy education, strategy, planning, and operations related to the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) in Chicago. Stephanie’s work also focuses on increasing access to equitable public transit in the Chicago area and across the state.

Before coming to IEC, Stephanie worked in the Wisconsin State Capitol. There, she focused on constituent relations and policy creation for the State Assembly after working for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Stephanie’s experience in state government informs her understanding that elected officials, and the policies they introduce, must adequately represent the needs of their communities.

Stephanie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and environmental studies and certificates in Chicano/Latino studies and history. Outside of work, you’ll likely find her spending time outside with her dog, Hugo, exploring Chicago’s many restaurants, or convincing her partner to go swing dancing.

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay

Eliot Clay has served as the Illinois Environmental Council’s Land Use Programs Director since July 2023, having previously served as the State Programs Director from 2021 to 2023 and the Agriculture & Water Programs Director from 2018 to 2020. Eliot provides leadership and guidance for IEC’s policy agenda on agriculture, conservation, and other matters related to how natural and working lands are utilized in Illinois. He also co-leads the Illinois Livestock Reform Coalition and was appointed by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton to the state’s Good Food Purchasing Task Force in 2024.

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 in political science and English literature at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and then obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Ariel Hampton

Ariel (ah·ree·ELLE) is the Illinois Environmental Council’s State Government Affairs Director. She previously served as the Legal and Governmental Affairs Manager and the Legal and Policy Researcher. In this position, she oversees policy development and IEC’s lobbying efforts on the state level. 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.

Samira Hanessian

Samira joined the Illinois Environmental Council as the Energy Policy Director in the Spring of 2022, where she serves as IEC’s staff lead on energy, power sector, and decarbonization issues, as well as the implementation of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. In addition, she supports IEC’s zero-waste and water programming. Samira holds various appointments including service as a Steering Committee member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and voting member of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Climate Committee. As of 2024, Samira was appointed by Governor Pritzker to serve on the state’s Climate Jobs Advisory Council. Samira brings thoughtful leadership to her role and enjoys leveraging IEC’s partnerships to bridge technical expertise and decision-maker education.

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, including Chicago’s climate emergency declaration and updates to the ComEd Franchise Agreement. Samira was an early catalyst for the City to address extreme heat, flooding, land use, and siting issues. 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 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Double Minors in Environmental Science, Policy & Management, and Sustainability Studies. In 2021, she 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, Samira enjoys exploring different neighborhoods, hiking, musical theater, and spending time with her family.

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 firsthand and build relationships with their constituents in the conservation and agriculture community is the key to passing public policy that makes Illinois a leader. The work she is most proud of is building IEC’s tour program and connecting legislators to environmental issues across the state.

At IEC, Lindsay leads the Illinois is Beautiful Coalition, which works to ensure Illinois contributes to the national 30×30 goal in an equitable, community-based, and impactful manner, and the Wetlands Coalition, which aims to reinstate wetlands protections at the state level after devastating federal rollbacks. Lindsay has also served as a Vital Lands Network Architect and on various agency committees, including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Illinois 30×30 Task Force and the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Purchasing Cooperative Agreement Planning Committee. She is currently a member of the Lieutenant Governor’s Rivers of Illinois Coordinating Council, the board of the Old Capitol Farmers Market, and the Prairie State Conservation Coalition Board. In addition, she chairs the Prairie State Conservation Coalition’s Policy Committee.

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, Illinois Organic Growers Association, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. 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, she can be found restoring her farmhouse in rural Ashland, Illinois, chasing her kiddos Oliver, Hazel, and Lucas, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and Instagramming pictures of her kids and dogs.

Liz Kunkle

Liz joined the Illinois Environmental Council as its first Zero Waste Policy Manager in May 2023. She oversees IEC’s advocacy, coalition-building, relationships, and organizing efforts related to zero waste issues throughout the state and helps IEC advance equitable legislation that reduces the use of natural resources and wasted material. Liz promotes innovation and action on source reduction, recycling, and composting and develops position and strategy analyses on how other states’ and cities’ policies could be implemented in Illinois and the city of Chicago.

Liz works to increase the diversion and composting of all organics in the state through the Illinois Food Scrap & Composting Coalition, where she is the Co-Chair of the Policy Committee and a Board Member. Liz also works to decrease the production, sale, and use of single-use plastics in the state through the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, where she is the Chair of the Policy Committee and a Steering Committee Member. In December 2023, Liz was appointed to the Statewide Recycling Needs Assessment Advisory Council, which will help lay the foundation for sound packaging and paper product stewardship legislation in the state. In February 2024, Liz kicked off IEC’s new Landfill Methane Emissions Coalition, which works to reduce methane emissions from landfills through upstream and downstream policy solutions.

Prior to joining IEC, Liz worked increasingly on sustainability and zero waste initiatives personally and professionally. While practicing trademark law for 20 + years, she established Green Teams at local schools, founded Go Green Winnetka, a non-profit citizens’ environmental group, and was appointed to her community’s Environmental and Forestry Commission. Since stepping away from the practice of law in 2019, Liz worked for Collective Resource Compost, a woman-owned food scrap hauling company, and has become an active member of the U.S. Composting Council.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Liz with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. She loves being outside, especially but not only in the summer, whether it’s walking, biking, boating, hiking, or reading. Her roots are in Illinois, and she is very excited to be part of IEC.

Francisco Lopez Zavala

Francisco Lopez Zavala started as the Illinois Environmental Council’s (IEC) Climate Policy Program Associate in the Summer of 2024, having previously served as IEC’s Climate Policy Intern in the Spring of 2024. In their current position, Francisco is responsible for assisting with climate policy education and workforce development initiatives, as well as leading the Jobs & Economic Justice Subcommittee within the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC). Francisco’s work focuses on increasing investment into Illinois’ green workforce programs, ensuring these opportunities are going to historically disinvested communities.

Prior to joining IEC, Francisco assisted the Cook County State Attorney’s Office as a Law Clerk, gaining experience in the inner workings of the criminal justice system. He was also a Summer Intern for the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association, helping organize the 2023 Chicago Summer Brews event and the 2023 County Chairs’ Brunch held in Springfield, Illinois. Francisco was also a Grassroots Advocate for Environment Illinois, where he advocated for a statewide ban on polystyrene foam products to protect Illinois waterways and endangered wildlife.

Francisco attended the University of Illinois at Springfield, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Legal Studies with a minor in Global Studies. Outside of work, Francisco enjoys traveling to Springfield, cycling on bike trails, listening to music albums (beginning to end), reading, and spending quality time with his younger siblings.

Dany Robles

Dany started as the Illinois Environmental Council’s Legislative Relations Director in the Spring of 2024, previously serving as IEC’s Climate Policy Director and Chicago Energy Policy Coordinator. In this role, Dany serves as IEC’s point of contact for Illinois decision-makers while also leading the organization’s work on green workforce and sustainable transportation issues. Additionally, he continues to work on developing the narrative around the need for climate migration solutions as the looming effects of climate change continue to displace people worldwide.

During his tenure at IEC, Dany has served on Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Environmental Policy Transition Team and on previous Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Building Decarbonization Policy Working Group and Climate Action Plan Working Group. As of 2024, he was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker to serve on the inaugural board of the state’s Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund to help develop transformational financial resources for low-income community members to access renewable energy infrastructure. Dany has been a co-chair of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coaltion’s Clean and Equitable Transportation Campaign and is also serving on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s steering committee to develop a Regional Climate Action Plan to support the administration of the Inflation Reduction Act funds being awarded to Illinois.

Before joining IEC, Dany worked in Corporate Security and Investigation before getting involved in political organizing. Dany worked as Regional Field Director for Congresswomen Marie Newman (IL-3) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and as Latine Bilingual Trainings Coordinator for the Sunrise Movement. Most recently, Dany worked with the IL Green New Deal Coalition as their State Coordinator.

Dany earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminology, Law, and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is also an alum of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus Foundation Fellowship. Outside of work, Dany enjoys playing and watching soccer, spending time in nature, playing and writing music, and exploring the local music scene.

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. In this role, she led a successful two-year campaign to re-establish the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment and also supported the 2023 Chicago mayoral transition team.

Previously, she served in 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. Iyana currently co-leads the Illinois Water Justice Coalition, which works toward equity and justice in water infrastructure decisions. In 2024, Iyana was named a Wavemaker by the Alliance for the Great Lakes in recognition of her coalition work. Additionally, she has served on the Illinois Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board since 2022 and was previously a member of the Chicago Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Group before it was dissolved in early 2023.

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.

Sergio Vargas

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

In 2022, Sergio joined the massively successful Vote Yes Campaign that resulted in an annual increase of $40 million in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s coffers. In early 2024, Sergio was appointed to the steering committee for the Chicago Wilderness Alliance. This work allows him to help guide the overall conservation vision for the region. Sergio has also joined the Wild Things Steering Committee with the goal of shaping their upcoming 2025 conference and working alongside several partner organizations.

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 and graduated 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. In this role, he meets and strategizes with rural landowners and residents throughout Illinois who are impacted by the adverse effects of industrialized agriculture. In addition, he works closely with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and currently serves as their Executive Board of Directors President.

Chad has been a lifetime farmer. His focus has always been on land conservation and sustainability. For the past 20 years, he has operated Oak Tree Organics, producing a wide 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.

Angela Xu

Angela Xu joined the Illinois Environmental Council as the Municipal Engagement Manager in
the Fall of 2023. She works on policy issues surrounding clean energy and water. Additionally,
in advancing IEC’s efforts to implement the Inflation Reduction Act, Angela engages with
Illinois’ communities, grassroots coalitions, nonprofits, groups, and leaders in government. In her short time at IECEF, Angela has already met with more than 60 municipal leaders and given presentations on Inflation Reduction Act programs that have reached nearly 400 people.

She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law with a concentration in
environmental law, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio from The School of the Art Institute of
Chicago (SAIC). Prior to joining IEC, Angela dedicated her time to environmental issues as a volunteer and intern for the Sierra Club, a law clerk for Our Children’s Trust, a legal extern for Ocean Conservancy, and a policy and planning intern for Friends of the Chicago River. For the Institute of Biodiversity Law and Policy, Angela assisted with an amicus brief that was filed to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 12 scientific organizations in the Clean Water Act case of the century, Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency.

Outside of work, she enjoys visiting museums, attending arts events, and spending time with her talented actor-musician husband, Bill, and their adorable dog, Suvi.

Tucker Barry

Tucker Barry has served as the Communications Director for the Illinois Environmental Council since early 2019, where he directs the organization’s 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 if we are to successfully confront the climate crisis.

In his time at IEC, Tucker has led the growth of IEC’s communications team from a one-person operation to a team of five, exponentially increased the might of IEC’s advocacy engagement, which has been recognized during legislative debate on the floor of both the Illinois General Assembly and Chicago City Council, and spearheaded the development of IEC’s Policy Platform allyship plank, among many other contributions at the organization. He also serves on the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Communications Committee and coordinates collaborative communications work within multiple coalition spaces across Illinois’ environmental movement.

Before moving to Illinois in 2019, Tucker served as Press Secretary to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D-Louisiana) and led 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. Tucker enjoys spending time with his dog, Elio, interior design, and daydreaming about his next big hiking trip.

Sam Bower

Sam Bower joined IEC in December 2021 as the Social Media Manager where he oversees the organization’s long-term social media strategy and day-to-day content creation. The Illinois environmental landscape changes rapidly, making social media the perfect tool to build power for people and the environment. Government and the legislative process are fascinating to Sam. Prior to joining IEC, he worked in communication roles with the North American Association for Environmental Education, focusing on education policy, and the City of Portage in the public information office.

Sam graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity. He then graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2022 with a Master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication. Sam enjoys swimming, going to brunch with friends, seeing movies, scrolling through Instagram for hours and exploring Chicago.

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.

Danny Collins

Danny Collins joined the Illinois Environmental Council in early 2023 as the Development Associate, where they help develop, streamline, and maintain key fundraising practices. Danny is passionate about ensuring our dedicated community of supporters receive the highest-quality experience in their partnership with IEC.

Prior to coming to IEC, Danny served as the Database & Development Specialist at Erie Neighborhood House for nine years and as the Program & Events Coordinator at YouthBuild Lake County for two years before then. With over ten years of experience in fundraising, Danny brings a wealth of knowledge in donor database management, event planning, and individual giving.

Danny earned their Bachelor’s degree in Organizational & Corporate Communication from Northern Illinois University. In their free time, Danny enjoys riding their bike across the many trails Chicago has to offer; playing guitar; and spending time with family, friends, and their cat, Milo Lothario Oatmeal.

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. Jaime is passionate about making sure all donors feel valued and that IEC staff have the funds needed to carry out their impactful work. During her time at IEC, Jaime has expanded the development team, grown the annual Environmental Leadership Dinner to record attendance, and launched a new major giving initiative. She also serves on the Racial Justice and Equity working group for the Conservation Voters Movement to help shape and facilitate adoption of anti-racist fundraising best practices.

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 over 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 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, enjoying the outdoors with her partner Marty, and cooking.

Hannah Flath

Hannah Flath joined the Illinois Environmental Council in May of 2024 and serves as the Climate Communications Manager. She has seen firsthand how traditional and digital media can be used to make bold progress in the clean energy transition and is excited to work to ensure Illinois remains a national leader in equitable climate policy and climate solutions.

Prior to joining IEC, Hannah served as Communications Coordinator with Sierra Club Illinois from 2021 to 2024 and previously worked as a Political Organizer through Sierra Club’s Victory Corps program. Before moving to Illinois in 2020, Hannah worked on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign and at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston. Hannah graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Human Services.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys baking (particularly when it involves citrus), reading in Chicago’s many public parks, and taking care of her houseplants and container garden.

Meredith Lukow

Meredith Lukow joined the Illinois Environmental Council as Grants Manager in summer 2023. In this position, she is responsible for managing, strategizing, and tracking IEC’s robust grant portfolio—which totals more than $3 million annually and spans 25 active funders—and seeking new funding opportunities.

Before coming to IEC, Meredith honed her project management and communications expertise at several nonprofit organizations in Chicago and Washington, D.C. These roles included serving as a project manager and communications lead for federal contracts at an education research organization, editing policy reports at a progressive think tank, and organizing for LGBTQ and immigrant rights at a small advocacy campaign.

Meredith is a certified Project Management Professional and graduated from American University with dual bachelor’s degrees in international studies and political science and a minor in Arabic language. Outside of work, you might find Meredith tending to her ever-growing collection of houseplants, helping out with a prescribed burn or cutting buckthorn at the Riverbank Neighbors site along the Chicago River, or trying to decide once and for all which Muppet is her favorite.

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.

Lauren Sprowl

Lauren Sprowl joined the Illinois Environmental Council at the beginning of 2024 and is our HR & Operations Manager. She supports the well-being of all of our staff and our beloved Chicago office plants.

Lauren holds a degree in Human Development and Social Relations from Kalamazoo College. Prior to working with IEC, Lauren worked for an education technology start-up as a People Operations & DEIB Manager. She also has non-profit management experience where she managed a vocational program for adults with disabilities. While her experience is varied, one thing has always remained true: her dedication to making work a safe and supportive place for all employees.

Outside of work you’ll find her enjoying time with her family (probably in some body of water), playing the piano, or baking up something yummy and unique.