Director Operations and Infrastructure
As Director, John Nelson’s department includes four divisions: Administration, Grounds Maintenance, Infrastructure, and Building Trades. The Administration Division provides management, administrative and clerical support; direct customer service; data entry; and manages office technology.
The Grounds Maintenance Division performs grounds and trail maintenance, tree and turf maintenance, minor building maintenance, garbage collection, snow removal and general upkeep of preserves; provides program support to other departments by preparing and cleaning up preserves and facilities prior to and after major special events and programs; assists with natural resource management programs through invasive species removal and control, and controlled burning; and maintains a central stores operation.
The Infrastructure Division performs utility, roadway and major trail repairs along with other types of service requiring heavy construction equipment; building demolitions; installs and repairs fences, signs, benches and gates; mechanical repair and preventive maintenance on vehicles and equipment; fabricates gates and other steel structures; produces signs and banners; and accomplishes engineering and construction of major capital repair and replacement projects to roads and parking lots, bridges and boardwalks, bathrooms, picnic shelters and other infrastructure.
The Building Trades Division maintains, repairs, and makes improvements to buildings, including HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems; performs carpentry repairs and maintenance to buildings and site amenities (shelters, bathrooms, boardwalks, etc.); and paints and maintains building interiors and exteriors.
Nelson has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in environmental and hydrosystems engineering, and a bachelor's degree in life sciences with an emphasis in ecology, ethology and evolution, both earned at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
Before becoming Director, Nelson worked more than eight years in various positions, including Project Engineer, District Engineer and Engineering Manager. Prior to joining the Lake County Forest Preserves, Nelson served as a licensed Professional Engineer in Illinois, a consulting engineer and as a civil engineer for the Village of Schaumburg.
John is a member of the American Public Works Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Within the Lake County Forest Preserves, he enjoys spending time with his family sledding, hiking or biking along the trails, or watching birds and other wildlife. He would like others to know that no matter what time of year it is, there is always something to do and see out in the preser