Illinois Audubon Society Announces New Executive Director

SPRINGFIELD, IL. The Illinois Audubon Society Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has named Joanne (Jo) Fessett as its new Executive Director, effective August 12, 2022. She replaces Executive Director Jim Herkert who retired April 8, 2022.

“Our Board of Directors is thrilled to introduce this selection,” said President Randy Schietzelt. “Fessett possesses the qualifications, expertise and drive to help Illinois Society move into its next 125 years of excellence.”

Fessett began her career in nonprofit conservation in 1999 working for the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She served as the Community and Economic Development Coordinator in the Havana office and focused on the Emiquon Project. In 2000 she joined the Illinois Audubon Society Board of Directors as an At-large member and left that post in 2006 to become the Assistant to the Executive Director for the Society.  Prior to 1999 she was employed as an administrator at Argonne National Laboratory near her hometown of Lemont, Illinois.

As Assistant to the Executive Director, Fessett managed all aspects of Society operations including membership coordination, outreach and marketing and budgeting. Her duties also included, developing and conducting many events and field trips, website development and maintenance. She has successfully written many grants for land acquisition and sanctuary restoration and improvement projects.

Fessett holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration (1998) from Lewis University in Romeville, Illinois.

The appointment concludes a seven-month search process completed by the Search Committee, led by the immediate Past President of the Board, Deb Carey. “It was evident to the committee that Jo’s proven ability, past experience and passion for her work made her the perfect candidate to step up and serve as the Executive Director of the Illinois Audubon Society,” said Carey.

Fessett will continue to work from the Society’s headquarters in Springfield, Illinois. She can be contacted at

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