I was elected to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in November 2006 in my first run for public office. (Though I was not endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party, I received support from many ward and township organizations, many elected officials, garnered all the newspaper endorsements as well as the Sierra Club and IVI-IPO, and came in first in a field of nine candidates.)
Prior to running for office, I helped to launch Chicago WILDERNESS Magazine in 1997 and served as editor until December 2006. Chicago WILDERNESS is an award-winning quarterly magazine devoted to the rare nature of the Chicago region and the inspiring stories of the people working to protect, preserve and restore our native prairies, oak woods, and wetlands.
It emerges from a regional consortium of more than 230 public and private organizations working together to protect and restore the biological diversity of the Chicago metropolitan region.
In the 1980s, I worked for eight years as an investigator at the Better Government Association. That was a wonderful education in Chicago politics and investigative journalism. I have published freelance articles in a number of magazines, including Outside.
Since the early 1990’s, I have been an active volunteer in the efforts to restore habitat in the Cook County forest preserves. This work led me to advocate for better management of our public lands in Cook County, including helping to found a group called Friends of the Forest Preserves. For 10 years I served on President John Stroger’s Community Advisory Council on Land Management.
I was born in Chicago 56 years ago but grew up in Dallas, Texas (I consider myself a recovering Texan). I attended Goucher College in Maryland (thinking I was going north to school) and have master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College in Chicago. I moved back to Chicago 26 years ago. I have one grown son and live with my partner, Kathleen Gillespie, in Skokie.