Board of Directors
Fran Peterson, President
Fran was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois. She graduated from Millikin University, then worked for Archer Daniels Midland as an accounting manager. She was married to Dick Peterson for almost 45 years before his passing in 2012. Fran has two fabulous daughters and four fantastic grandchildren who all live in the Midwest. She and Dick both lived in Decatur all of their lives until they moved to Galena, whereupon they almost immediately became involved with the Guardians and the Conservation Foundation. The beauty of the region was so different from central Illinois, and they both loved it and wanted to do what they could to preserve and protect it. Fran feels strongly that educating children to feel the same way is essential to the future of our natural community, and says that the Conservation Foundation does this so well.
Susan McDonald, Vice President
Susan McDonald grew up in a farming community in Iroquois county and now resides in Palatine IL. She has had a second residence in Apple Canyon Lake for over twenty-five years where she developed a great affection for this unique and beautiful area of Illinois. She has been in marketing and sales for the last thirty years. In this capacity, she oversees a geographical sales area, manages sales reps and support staff, and is a part of a management team. She continues to work as Regional Sales Manager for Inteplast. With her background in sales and marketing along with her interest in the preservation of Daviess County, Susan is interested in contributing in the areas of fundraising, membership and general awareness of JDCF
Christine Larson, Treasurer
Christine Larson is semi-retired and actively involved in not-for profit, conservation-oriented work. From 2006 through 2008, she served as Executive Director of the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, and is presently Treasurer and a board member of that organization. She brings over 20 years of corporate experience in marketing, business development and management. Her for-profit corporate life ended in 2006 with CCC Information Services, Inc., a software services firm, where she was Director of Operations for four years. The majority of Chris’ career includes executive and management positions with such telecom and technology companies as Ameritech, Motorola and AT&T. Larson holds a Masters in Management from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Business Management from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Randy Downing, Secretary
“My professional career mostly involved managing the development of computer controlled switching systems for Bell Telephone Laboratories. Our first visit to this county in 1978 led to the purchase of a small piece of property, then to a weekend home, and finally to a full-time home in 1990. Bluebird conservation through the Conservation Guardians got me interested in environmental issues. Next came NIPE and prairie restoration. For many years I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of picking prairie seed for new restorations on beautiful fall days, and managing burns in the springtime. In 1995 we acquired a parcel of land in rural Stockton and did our own 5-acre restoration (with a lot of help from our friends) which we call Bluebird Prairie. The call of the prairie eventually led to our building a home on this property and to move here in 2006. A conservation easement held by JDCF now ensures that Bluebird Prairie and the surrounding woodlands will be here for a long time. I look forward to helping the JDCF continue on its very successful land preservation journey.”
An artist whose work celebrates the Driftless landscape, Maureen has owned property in Jo Daviess County for 40 years. A fascination with area architecture and history led to learning more about county geology and geography, birds and wildlife. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, her professional life in human resources helped her build a successful art career in fiber and surface design: creating art, curating exhibits, writing reviews, and speaking to groups. Community involvement includes the Patient Family Advisory Board of Lurie Cancer Center, Chicago; Greenspace Committee at The Galena Territory; Corps of Discovery team at Lost Mound; bird surveys and Bio-Blitz at Wapello Land & Water Reserve; bird counts, burn team, and bird watching. Maureen is looking forward to contributing her talents to JDCF.
Public service first brought Tom and family to Jo Daviess County in 2008 in the form of a presentation to the Illinois City Managers’ Association. No one told Tom that the Managers hold their annual meeting at the Eagle Ridge resort in Galena, some 6 hours away from his then home in Belleville, Illinois. Upon entering the area with its rolling hills, deep valleys and scenic vistas, however, the family was “hooked” and immediately began looking for property within the area. Now a full-time resident of the Galena Territory, Tom has been active in the GTA Greenspace Committee, volunteering on various stewardship activities and co-managing the Territory Farmers’ Market from 2012 through 2014. Tom is also a committed member of the Galena Area Land Enthusiasts (GALE) and can be found most Tuesday and Thursday mornings cutting trees and brush and hunting thistles at Gateway Park as well as an active “seed picker” with the Northern Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts (NIPE). Tom has also served on JDCF’s Land Preservation Committee for nearly 2 years.
Lois received a B.S. in Education, Northern Illinois University (NIU), DeKalb, IL, an M.S. in Education, NIU, and a Masters in Public Administration, NIU. She attended Executive Development School, University of Indiana, Bloomington, IN and Revenue Resource Management, University of North Carolina. Her professional experience includes Physical Education Teacher, Director of P.E. and Coach, in IL, NY, and Japan, Executive Director of the Glen Ellyn, IL Park District, Carol Stream Park District Project Manager & Planner, and Park District Consultant for Long Range Planning, Financial
Management & Grant Writing. Her community service, in addition to serving on JDCF’s board, includes Elected Park Commissioner Wheaton IL, Board Director for Western DuPage Recreation Association, DuPage Conservation Foundation, Greenway Committee, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC), League of Women Voters, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn Rotary, Glen Ellyn, IL, Friends of the Library, Galena, IL, Former Habitat for Humanity in Galena, IL, Long Range Planning Committee, Galena Territory Association (GTA), and Architectural Review Committee, GTA.
Larry spent 42 years in the consulting engineering business working throughout the U.S. His personal expertise is as an environmental/regulatory specialist for managing the environmental and regulatory requirements for large infrastructure projects, in particular transportation projects including the Illinois Tollway system. In his long professional career Larry sought to balance between the needs of our urban population and the environment. “With good development comes a strong consideration for the environment such that we avoid impact when we can and provide apt mitigation when impact is unavoidable. But, in the process of impacting resources we must do the necessary work to truly understand the environmental systems that are at risk. My wife, Linda and I have lived part time and now full time in the Galena area for over 6 years. We have grown to love our home and the area that surround it. Our interest in JDCF is founded in protecting the important resources of the area, preserving a lifestyle that evolved over the generations, and giving back in ways that we are most passionate.”
I grew up in the Jo Daviess County countryside near Hanover. As a child, and now as an adult, I enjoyed hunting on our family farm and fishing the local lakes and rivers. I graduated from River Ridge high school and then earned my Accounting degrees at the University of Illinois and Western Illinois University. My wife Paige and I make our home outside of East Dubuque and are expecting our first child in July. Professionally, I am a CPA and currently work as a tax accountant for RSM in Dubuque. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve with JDCF and hope to help preserve the great outdoors and educate others how best to do so.
I was raised in Champaign-Urbana, IL where my father was a professor of plant physiology and the head of the botany department. I heard a lot about plant mitochondria at the dinner table. In high school I worked a part-time job at a horticulture lab, mincing corn roots and mixing chemical solutions. My husband, Gregg, and I met in high school, married in college and finished our degrees at the University of Illinois in Chicago. We discovered Galena in 1971 and moved here in 1972. We were charmed by Galena’s history and beautiful architecture. We were also captivated by the rolling hills of Jo Daviess County –quite different from the flat parts of IL we had known! We continued to explore and enjoy the outdoors as we raised our family. I was active in the acquisition and development of the Gateway and Horseshoe Mound properties. I am honored to be a part of the JDCF board and continue to contribute to JDCF’s great legacy.
Jim is a grassland ecologist, computer scientist, and retired professor. He is a graduate of Stockton High School and lives there with his wife Ulrike. His interests include botany, Drupal, nature photography, and space operas.
Frances recently retired from a long career in Fortune 500 Corporate Sales in Information Systems areas. Her field was Data Protection, Data Security, Expert Systems and analysis. But even before retiring, she and her husband Bob both found niches at JDCF when they moved to the Driftless Area in 2007. Frances credits the Conservation Foundation and the Guardians with being their initial resource for information as new residents. Having had an award-winning perennial garden back in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, she was delighted to be able to turn to a whole new level of “gardening” in 2008 by eliminating 22,000 square feet of formerly mowed lawn and recreating a shortgrass prairie and a small savanna at her home in the Galena area. Getting acquainted with JDCF and our members was easy for Frances and Bob as they attended a JDCF-sponsored seminar in 2008 in Elizabeth, Illinois, to learn about bluebirds, and more than once went on the Frog Walk and the Spring Wildflower Walk at Schurmeier led by then-Director of Public Lands, Christie Trifone. They paddled their canoe on the Galena River to work at River Clean-Up Day, attended Green Fairs and Green Fair Fares, seminars on invasive plants and attended and contributed to the Annual Guardian’s Dinner and Auction at the Patinkin Barn.
She is the immediate past President of the Board. Being so involved with JDCF from the classroom to the field, as a contributor and as a fundraiser, serving on the JDCF Board of Directors continues to provide an excellent channel for Frances’s efforts and benefit JDCF in all her areas of interest.
Carl R. “Skip” Schwerdtfeger
Skip received his B.A. from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. He majored in History with an emphasis on military history, and minored in Sociology and Political Science. He received his M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. His Master’s research was on the Black Hawk War.
In 1968, Skip purchased (as part of a partnership), organized and managed Hickory Ridge Ranch, a 275-acre cow-calf and Morgan Horse farm north of Elizabeth, Illinois. In 1989 he, with his wife and partner, formed the Old Northwest Land Co., which grew to over 30 agents. In 2005 they sold the Old Northwest Land Company although they continue to be licensed there.
Currently, Skip is President of the Apple River Fort Historical Foundation, Inc.; President of the Upper Mississippi International Port Authority; President of the In-House Investment Group, Inc.; Managing Partner of SCS Homes, LLC; Partner in Savanna Portland, LLC; and Chairman of the Administrative Council of First United Methodist Church of Elizabeth. As he puts it, “I have always believed in the can-do approach to life. It has led to tremendous challenges and satisfactions. In whatever I have achieved, individually and as a family member, I have pursued integrity, achievement and contribution as the measurements of success.”
“I’m a native Illinoisan and have been a Jo Daviess County property owner for 40+ years and resident for 25+ years. I spent my 32-year career as a petroleum engineer and manager in the international oil business, living in South America, the Middle East, and Europe as well as the U.S. After early retirement, I taught MBA courses as a visiting and adjunct professor for 10+ years. Locally, I have been involved with the Prairie Enthusiasts, Guardians, and JDCF. I have also served on the LRA, CVB, and other non-profit boards as well as being active in the Galena Rotary Club. I fully support JDCF’s mission of preserving our land in this beautiful corner of Northwest Illinois for future generations.”