Kerri Daniels, director of business development for DLZ

Last fall, Kerri Daniels received an invitation from board member Claire Williams to attend the Foundation’s second Friendraiser. Kerri, the director of business development for the Illinois office of DLZ, an architecture and civil engineering firm, had supported the Conservation Cup in the past, but saw the Friendraiser as an opportunity to learn more about the Foundation.

Sitting in the conference room at the Chase Tower, she heard the stories of young people who have been transformed through their experiences with the Youth Conservation Corps. “I was very impressed by the students and what they were taught by the various programs that the Foundation provides,” she says. “They spoke highly of their experiences.”

A few months after the Friendraiser, Kerri became a Foundation board member herself. She brings a background in fundraising and business development and wants to apply her expertise in those areas to strengthening the Foundation and “grow the organization’s funding stream.”

“I’m all about relationships,” she says. “I am a true a connector.”

Given the Foundation’s work in the area of youth leadership development, she wants to focus on that aspect, too. “A lot of the young adults who are involved with the [Conservation Corps] program had no previous experience with nature preserves, had no understanding when they’re coming in how truly special the preserves are. It’s really exciting to see their mindset do a complete 180 after a few days in the preserves.”

A Chicago native who grew up in Rogers Park, she remembers family picnics in the forest preserves, which gave her a fond appreciation for them. “They’re really a hidden jewel that aren’t used as much as they should be.” Now that she’s on the board, she plans to spread the word about what the forest preserves have to offer.

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