A Tribute to Commissioner Audrey H. Nixon
May 10, 2017 09:44 AM
It is with respect and love that we pay tribute to Lake County Forest Preserve District Commissioner Audrey H. Nixon, who passed away Thursday, April 27, 2017, at the age of 81.
Audrey, who began her service with the Lake County Forest Preserves in 1982, was the longest-serving commissioner on the Forest Preserve Board. In her 35 years of service, the land managed by the Forest Preserves for the people of Lake County nearly tripled, from 11,701 acres in 1982 to the current 30,859 acres. In her home District 14, which she so ably represented, the size of Greenbelt Forest Preserve also grew, from 457 acres in 1982 to 596 acres today.
Audrey provided leadership for Forest Preserve signature facilities and initiatives over the last 35 years, including Greenbelt Cultural Center, Independence Grove, Ryerson Welcome Center, the completion of the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway, the championship golf course at Thunder Hawk, the RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance at Spring Bluff Forest Preserve, and the county’s only National Historic Landmarks, Fort Sheridan and the Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home. Commissioner Nixon led an advisory committee of residents, government officials and local leaders that oversaw the development of the Greenbelt Cultural Center as a place where people could come together with each other and with nature.
Audrey took great interest in the history of Lake County’s people, and was a staunch supporter of the former Lake County Discovery Museum and its move to the Forest Preserve’s General Offices in Libertyville, where it will re-open in late 2017 as the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County. She also spearheaded the Profiles in Excellence program, which, for nearly 40 years, has focused attention on the history and contributions of Lake County’s African American community.
Audrey championed the welfare of her District 14 constituents, but was also known for her ability to take the long view and to think about the welfare of all of Lake County, in addition to those who had elected her to represent them. She was known for connecting the dots between people and projects, and worked hard to bring people together for the good of all. To that end, Audrey supported strategic land purchases throughout the county and championed the development of the Forest Preserve’s 100-year Vision for Lake County.
In 2007, Audrey supported the creation of the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves, the District’s charitable partner. To date, the Preservation Foundation has raised over $12 million in non-tax cash and in-kind contributions from individuals, corporations and organizations, a return on investment of 330 percent in the Foundation’s first decade. One of the key projects supported by the Preservation Foundation was near and dear to Audrey’s heart––the Green Youth Farm in Lake County. Located at Greenbelt Forest Preserve, the Green Youth Farm is a youth development partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden, through which Waukegan and North Chicago students gain job skills, spend time with adult mentors, and learn about nutrition, cooking, and entrepreneurism through growing fresh produce for the community. Audrey’s commitment to youth support and development––to nurturing the county’s next generation of citizens––was a golden thread running through her public career.
Lake County Forest Preserve President Ann B. Maine said, “Audrey brought a wide vision, inclusiveness, kindness, grace, and a sense of wonder to her work on behalf of the public. Her service to the people of Lake County, her thoughtfulness, and her desire to bring people together to discover solutions was remarkable. She will be sincerely missed.”
In 2016, a bench was installed, in Audrey Nixon’s honor, at the front entrance of the Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago. Next time you visit the Cultural Center, pause and take a rest on Audrey’s bench. She would like that.
Audrey H. Nixon
Media Contacts: Ann Maine, President, Lake County Forest Preserves, firstname.lastname@example.org, 847-367-6640; Alex Ty Kovach, Executive Director, akovach@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3338; Katherine Hamilton-Smith, Public Affairs and Development Director, khamilton-smith@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3380