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.
Deputy Director

Colleen started with IEC in 2017. She is in the Capitol each day the General Assembly is in session.


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 researches the issues and policies affecting water resources in Illinois.

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Administrator

Tonyisha coordinates the Illinois Climate Action Table.

Energy policy director

Gavin leads IEC’s clean energy policy development.

Development & Communications
Chief of Staff

Matt has been with IEC since 2014. He oversees IEC’s operations and develops organizational strategy.


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.

Finance Director

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

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.

Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith serves as the deputy director, where she manages IEC’s legislative and advocacy priorities. Colleen believes our collective power and advocacy can effectively educate decision makers to pass strong environmental policies. She knows that states are leading on climate change and environmental protection, and it is more important than ever for us to continue our work here in Illinois.

Before joining the team at IEC, Colleen served as Chief of Staff for State Representative Ann Williams. Colleen has also served in other government affairs positions and on statewide and congressional campaigns.

Colleen holds a master’s in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. She is an alum of the 2019 Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Academy. Outside of politicking, Colleen spends time hiking and running outdoors and watching college basketball.

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 Simba has served as the Clean Water Advocate for the Illinois Environmental Council since June 2019, where she researches a range of water issues afflicting Illinois and the Great Lakes region. Her research informs policy drafting on issues ranging from water affordability to flooding mitigation to aquatic invasive species. 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 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 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.

Tonyisha Harris

Tonyisha Harris has served as the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Administrator for the Illinois Environmental Council since September 2019, where she oversees coordination for the Climate Table and Steering Committee, engages with youth-led organizations and assists with energy policy. She believes that environmental justice should be the center of all environmental work and constant communication is key to building a well-functioning coalition.

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.

Tonyisha 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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