2019 Annual Report
From the Executive Director
The Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund embarked on 2019 excited by the promise of many new decision makers taking office in Illinois, including a new governor, attorney general and many new lawmakers. On the heels of our candidate education program, these new decision makers came to office educated and passionate about environmental issues.
Our high hopes for what we could accomplish in these new partnerships came with an equally high bar for success. IECEF staff and our affiliate member organizations rose to the challenge. Together, we grew our team, expanded our movement and made progress on important conservation, agriculture, energy, water and public health priorities.
As I write this reflection of 2019 a few months into 2020, the world has changed more than any of us could have imaged then. However, I remain confident in what the future holds for IEC.
Growing Our Power
IECEF is in a stronger position than ever to accomplish our priorities. We entered 2019 with a new vision, mission and strategic plan that will take us into a new decade with a renewed sense of our purpose and priorities. We also expanded six new staff roles, including a new agriculture and water programs director, development director, communications director, finance director, office manager and clean water advocate.
Our physical footprint continues to grow along with us. In 2018, IECEF purchased a new office building just blocks from the Capitol Building in downtown Springfield. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to make a series of sustainability upgrades to our new home, and in 2019, we installed a 9.72kW rooftop solar array. Consistent with our role as a convener of our movement, our new building has become a hub for the environmental community during legislative sessions and serves a communal space for our movement.
Green Legislature and Green Governor
IECEF’s policy knowledge, education efforts and statewide reach positioned our community to gain substantial ground in 2019 and beyond.
Governor JB Prizker signed Illinois on to the US Climate Alliance as one of his first acts, committing Illinois to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050, and publicly stated his intention to pass a comprehensive clean energy bill without the influence of big utility companies.
In a demonstration of the growing strength of our community and increasing seriousness with which the General Assembly prioritizes environmental issues, IECEF is proud to say that the 2019 legislative session was one of the most productive in decades.
We now have an unprecedented pro-climate action majority in both the Illinois House and Senate. Both bodies voted to repeal the Kyoto Protocol Act of 1998, an outdated law originally passed to prevent Illinois from taking independent action to regulate carbon.
In most years, repealing this ill-advised legislation would have been a highlight, but in 2019, it was only a precursor of bigger things to come. Introduced in February of 2019, the Clean Energy Jobs Act would make Illinois a national leader in building a just and equitable clean energy economy while tackling climate change. And Illinois voters are ready: over two lobby days, IEC and our affiliates brought over 1,000 people to lobby day in Springfield, marking the largest events in our 44 year history.
Environmental Policy Wins
In 2019, we coordinated a broad and ambitious environmental legislative agenda, defeated potentially damaging legislation and secured important appropriations in the state budget.
The class of freshman lawmakers brought protection of the environment to a new level. Nineteen of the 50 lawmakers receiving a 100% rating in our annual scorecard were in their first legislative session, setting the stage for many promising opportunities over the next few years.
Thanks to these new and existing champions in the legislature, we made polluters pay to clean up coal ash, banned BPA receipts, removed prohibitions on the regulation of carbon emissions, curtailed illegal logging, protected soil health, fostered water jobs, encouraged reuse and recycling, secured nation-leading energy efficiency standards for cannabis production, funded a billion in environmental programs through the capital plan, and so much more.
Our new strategic plan recognizes that IECEF is a historically white-led organization that needs to make significant strides in holding ourselves accountable to the communities we aim to serve. Examples of environmental racism are all around us, and it is our responsibility to help break down the systemic barriers to clean air, water, and open spaces. Our work is not done until frontline communities, communities of color, and under-served communities all across our state benefit from these essential resources.
What Does the Future Look Like
It is an exciting time for IECEF and for the environmental community in Illinois and we are more optimistic than ever. We saw youth lead our movement, as thousands marched in our streets for climate action, building bridges and momentum with real results. After all, the work we’re doing today will impact their futures more than anyone else.
As IECEF 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.
A New Strategic Plan
Our vision is to create an Illinois where informed decision makers successfully champion the environment and win.
We ensure a healthful environment for all Illinoisans through education, communication and collaboration.
WHO WE ARE
From the Board Presidents
We are proud that the IEC and IEC Education Fund are able to serve Illinois now, as we weather this crisis, and continue to advance our mission to protect and ensure a healthful environment for all Illinoisans.
We entered 2020 with sound financial footing thanks to consistent long term support from a diverse set of institutional funders and contributions from a steadily growing number of affiliate organizations and individual members.
The organizations’ staff grew to 12 staff members in 2019, bringing on experts in communications, development, water policy, and youth advocacy. We have enjoyed working with the new staff and watching the organization’s reputation and capacity to support member organizations and to lead the environmental movement in Illinois grow as a result of their talent and hard work.
In 2019, we completed and began to implement a new three-year strategic plan. The plan established the IEC and IEC Education Funds’ vision of an Illinois where informed decision makers successfully champion the environment. Also, both organizations now have distinct mission statements and strategies for achieving those missions. We are grateful to the affiliate staff, individual members, survey respondents, board members and other stakeholders whose input and guidance helped shape the plan.
This past fall, we celebrated a number of exciting legislative victories and our champions in the General Assembly at our 17th Annual Environmental Leadership Dinner. The event was a huge success, where over 450 attendees toasted the recipients of the Legislative Leadership, Milestone Achievement and Community Champion Awards as they were presented by members of our board. At the dinner, generous attendees also made significant donations toward the installation of solar panels on our Springfield office roof, which were installed in September!
So, 2019 was a good year for the Illinois Environmental Council and IEC Education Fund. We look forward to continuing to serve Illinois and our shared environment in 2020 and beyond.
2019 IECEF Board of Directors
Stacey Paradis, President
David McEllis, Vice President
Brian Sauder, Treasurer
Andrew Szwak, Secretary
IECEF ELECTED DIRECTORS
IECEF APPOINTED DIRECTORS/LEAD AFFILIATES
Jennifer Baader, Chicago Zoological Society
Ellen Bell, Environmental Defense Fund
Jack Darin, Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club
James Gignac, Union of Concerned Scientists
Will Kenworthy, Vote Solar
David McEllis, Environmental Law and Policy Center
Stacey Paradis, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
Andrew Rehn, Prairie Rivers Network
Brian Sauder, Faith in Place
Andrew Szwak, Openlands
Pastor Booker Vance, Elevate Energy
2019 IEC/IECEF Staff
Jennifer Walling, Executive Director
Colleen Smith, Legislative Director
Eliot Clay, Agriculture & Water Programs Director
Lindsay Keeney, Conservation Director
Iyana Simba, Clean Water Advocate
Tonyisha Harris, IL Clean Jobs Administrator
Cary Shepherd, Policy Director
DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS
Matt Steffen, Deputy Director
Jeff Shelden, Development Director
Tucker Barry, Communications Director
Crystal Kern, Finance Director
Alli Kearney, Office Coordinator
Paloma Campillo, Events Coordinator
IEC hosted 10 educational tours with over 20 legislators, as well as our affiliates and other decision makers throughout 2019. Sites ranged from the Chicago River, to the Nygren Wetland Preserve in Rockton, the Lower Cache River in Southern IL, and several businesses and farms that embrace sustainability.
These events have proven crucial in helping legislators understand environmental issues by giving them the chance to get first-hand experience.
Educational Town Halls
In addition to our site tours, IEC hosted 18 educational town halls with over 700 total attendees in 2019. These events were designed to collect input from residents and to connect them with their legislators.
Going forward, IECEF is committed to hosting these town halls to ensure that the issues our organization works on match the needs of communities.
Chicago city council and mayoral elections were held in April of 2019. IECEF conducted educational sessions with all of the major mayoral candidates and sent educational information on our priorities to all aldermanic candidates.
These priorities included climate change, conservation, recycling, environmental justice and more. Thanks to these efforts, the new Chicago City Council entered office with higher knowledge of environmental issues than any other previous council.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
State Representative Ann Williams (11th District)
Thank you to our institutional funders!
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Grand Victoria Foundation
League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
Lumpkin Family Foundation
Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust
Walton Family Foundation
Food:Land:Opportunity, a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust that is funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust
Thank you to our donors!
Honorable Susan Garrett
Sue Lannin and Albert Ettinger
Dr. Gabrielle and Rev. Brian Sauder
Terri Treacy and Michael Wiant
$500 - $999
Rick and Tracy Fox
Charles and Debbie Frank
Ed and Sue Harney
Lauren Rosenthal and Howard Learner
$250 - $499
Ed and Pam Rosenthal
$100 - $249
Richard and Joanne Barsanti
Robert and Jennifer Linton
Ben and Kate Julian
June and Steve Keibler
Karen J. Lewis
Thomas and Cecilia Murphy
Jeffrey and Joan Petertil
Robert and Margaret Rauschenberger
Randall and Nancy Schietzelt
John D. Schmitt
Dennis and Anita Werling