Winnebago County Forest Preserve District Announces New Executive Director

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- At its monthly meeting on March 20, 2013 the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners will announce the hiring of the agency’s new Executive Director. Michael Holan will replace retiring Executive Director, Tom Kalousek, beginning April 10, 2013.

Holan brings over thirty years of professional experience in forest preserve district operations. He has most recently served as the Director of Operations and Maintenance at the Kane County Forest Preserve District, a position he has held since 2003. Previously, he was employed for twenty-one years at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County where he began as a seasonal employee, advanced through various positions, and ultimately served as the West Section Operations Supervisor whereby he managed approximately 14,500 acres. Holan’s educational qualifications include a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University with major focus in wildlife management, and minors in botany and chemistry, as well as post-degree work in Environmental Studies.

Holan says the opportunity to continue and build upon Winnebago County Forest Preserve District’s valuable legacy attracted him to the leadership role with the 90-year old organization. Holan says, “I would like to focus on leading WCFPD in carrying out their mission to provide public access to natural lands for recreation and education, to promote District involvement in Winnebago County communities, and to encourage the communities’ involvement in the WCFPD.” Further, he will “make a determined effort to secure funds to allow WCFPD to acquire and preserve additional high quality natural lands for the benefit of current and future generations of Winnebago County citizens.”

Jon Duerr, retired Executive Director of the Kane County Forest Preserve worked with Holan and says he comes highly recommended. He especially noted Mike’s skills in public relations, financial management, and in working with and maintaining good communications with staff. Justin Frederick, Director of Land Management for the DuPage County Forest Preserve, says that he followed in Mike’s footsteps due to his ability to inspire staff and to connect people with nature. Melisa Taylor, a Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioner, says that Mike has stepped up to the challenge of operating within the same budget constraints and with no additional staff in the face of difficult economic times and in spite of the addition of substantial new properties to the District.

The Winnebago County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners was unanimous in their selection, even though all four of the finalists had excellent qualifications. “Mike had the most extensive background in Forest Preserve operations, and it is obvious that he is a motivated professional who works well with the public, staff and Board. In his current position, he has cross-trained personnel, implemented high quality recreation programs for the public, and has served as an effective liaison to District support groups,” comments Judy Barnard, WCFPD Board President. “We believe that his strong decision-making, analytical and organization skills, as well as his natural science background, will make Mike the kind of leader that this Board has been seeking for the past year. We look forward to introducing him to the community over the next few months.”

The Board is grateful to Tom Kalousek, who has served as Executive Director of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District since 1999.

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