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Significant Growth and Achievements Highlighted in National Awards

June 28, 2024 11:14 AM

Two members of the Lake County Forest Preserves team recently earned national recognition.

The National Association of County Park and Recreational Officials (NACPRO) honored Event Operations Manager Stephanie Bosack with the New Professional award while Preservation Foundation President Nels Leutwiler was honored with the Outstanding Volunteer award.

NACPRO is comprised of about 120 park and special recreation districts from across the country, including the Lake County Forest Preserves.

Leutwiler was recognized for his significant efforts to increase the fiscal resources for the Preservation Foundation, the 501c3 charitable partner of the Lake County Forest Preserves. When he steps down in 2024, he will end 15 years of volunteer service as a board member, including the last 7 years as president.

“During his tenure, Nels oversaw remarkable growth. He grew the Foundation board from 3 to 18, recruiting civic and business leaders to give generously of their time, connections, expertise and donations,” said Rebekah Snyder, director of community engagement and partnerships. “The donor base tripled as the Foundation helped raise more than $40 million to advance every aspect of the mission of the Forest Preserves.”

The Foundation raises funds for educational programs, restoration initiatives and underwrites innovation in capital projects, such as systems to achieve net-zero energy. It maintains a robust Annual Fund, which is an immediate, flexible source of capital to pilot new initiatives or extend the scope of projects.

A signature achievement is the establishment of an endowment to care for the Forest Preserves’ restored lands in perpetuity. When the Foundation reaches its $20 million goal, the endowment will provide approximately $800,000 each year to fund critical land management activities, such as retreating invasive species, replanting native trees and conducting prescribed burns.

Bosack was recognized as an up-and-coming leader who exhibits a visionary blend of service-oriented dedication and refined business acumen. She joined the Forest Preserves in 2018 and was charged with revitalizing a defaulted licensed facility initiating an "in-house" operation from the ground up.

Under her leadership, business revenues experienced a surge, escalating from $65,000 in 2018 to $150,000 in 2019. This growth trend persisted, with a sustained 130% increase in 2022 and 2023. Notably, revenues reached their pinnacle at $200,000 in 2022 at Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago.

“As a cornerstone of the business development division, Stephanie consistently demonstrates her commitment through creative initiatives and tireless efforts to optimize processes,” said Director of Facilities Dan Stearns. “Her multitasking prowess, adept proposal creation and innovative event planning processes underscore her invaluable contributions, strategically positioning the Lake County Forest Preserves for sustained success in a competitive landscape.”