Address: 3826 N. Taylor Road
Hanna City, IL 61536

Phone: 309-676-0998

The Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park is a registered 501 3(c) organization. A Board of Directors has been put in place to insure the perpetuation of Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria County, Illinois, (Park). The Board is responsible for taking any and all actions to support in perpetuity the Vision of the Park – To provide a sustainable community asset focused on Conservation, Recreation and Education. All operations of the Park are overseen by a Chief Executive Officer who reports directly to the Board of Directors.

The Board consists of a maximum of 22 members, including a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer & Secretary. The Board seeks community members with varying skill sets ranging from Business Management, Legal, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, HR and Board Governance. The Board holds regular meetings (at least 6/year) serving in a governing and fiduciary role for the Park on behalf of the community.

Meet Our Governing Board Members

Our board members are passionate about Wildlife Prairie Park’s mission! Get to know more about them below.

Michelle R. Hubble

Board Chair

Michelle is a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and serves as our Board Chair and on the Finance/Audit committee. She is married to Keith Hubble, owner of Palomar Wealth and they have two adult children Cass and Justin.  She serves on the Board to build a better community and continue to build upon the legacy the Rutherford’s started decades ago.  Her family loves the outdoors and her favorite Park memory is a staycation visit during the 2020 Pandemic with her daughter Cass and her boyfriend Brady.  Her favorite Park animals are the Elks, but the White Bison are a close second!

Dr. David Knaak

Executive Vice Chair

David is a retired veterinarian at Limestone Companion Animal Hospital. He serves on the board at Wildlife Prairie Park to improve the welfare of all Wildlife Prairie Park animals! David’s favorite memory at the park is the roundup of the bison and elk herds. His favorite animal is the Alligator snapping turtle. David serves on the board at the Tri-County Animal Emergency Clinic and Mason County Pheasants Forever. David is married to Mary.

Janie Copeland

Executive Board Treasurer

Janie worked in Accounting at Caterpillar for 31 years! In 2019 she retired as the Chief Accounting Officer. She serves on the Finance/Audit committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. She serves on the board to help ensure the park remains a unique and fun place to enjoy in the Peoria area. The park’s pillars of Education, Recreation, and Conservation resonate with her. Janie’s favorite memory is the Easter Egg Hunt when her children were young. There was snow on the ground which made for an interesting experience! More recently, her favorite experience was seeing the completion of the new Legacy Cabins. Janie’s favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the otters. Janie is married to Gary, and has two children, Phillip and Andrea. Each of her children have worked in Customer Service at the park.

Tom Fliege

Executive Board Member

Tom is retired from the Hawk Agency/Arthur Gallagher and serves on the Building/Grounds and Recreation committees at Wildlife Prairie Park. He serves on the board to build a better tomorrow for current and future generations of Central Illinoisans. Tom’s favorite memories are the fish survey with Herman Brothers, and fence building with Dave Knaak and Bob Beecham. His favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the Muskellunge. Tom also serves on the UnityPoint Foundation. He is married to Dr. Cheryl Fliege.

Robert Beecham

Executive Board Member

Robert currently works as a Consultant with Hutchison, Inc. Previously he worked as a Manual High School Mathematics & Economics teacher before moving on and retiring from Keystone Steel & Wire as President/COO. He serves on the Building/Grounds committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. Robert’s favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal are the Bald Eagles. He says they are so majestic!

Heather Forney

Chair - Hospitality Committee

Heather Forney is the owner of I Do Events, an event design and rental company serving Central Illinois and Iowa for the last 17 years.  Before starting I Do Events, Heather’s career was in accounting with positions at Walgreens and Caterpillar.  Heather earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Eastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Heather has been married to her husband, Ben, for nearly 18 years and has three children who are active in nearly every sport and activity imaginable.  She loves the small town life in Brimfield, IL and will occasionally make it on to the golf course in her spare time.

Rex Linder

Building/Grounds Committee

Rex is a retired attorney from Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen after 46 years and serves on the Building/Grounds committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. He serves on the board because Wildlife Prairie Park is a community treasure that must survive and become even better! Rex’s favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the bison. He also serves the Peoria Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sister City Commission, Creve Coeur Club, Easter Seals Foundation, Peoria County Bar Foundation, OSF St. Francis Community Advisory, and Peoria Gridiron Dinner. He is married to Laura and has two daughters named Stacie and Jamie.

Dr. Timothy Cundiff

Chair - Recreation & Events Committee

Timothy works as an Optometrist at Vision Care Center. He serves on the board in order to help preserve, enhance, and promote this wonderful gem of Greater Peoria! This park is a true destination both for our local community and for visitors from all over. He loves serving on this board of such an important community jewel. He wants to keep it shining brightly for generations to come. Timothy has been coming to Wildlife Prairie Park since he was a child. He has many memories of the train and Gollywopper slide. But his favorite was coming to visit his favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal, the bison! One year, he celebrated his birthday party at the park. It was a cold and dreary day. Unfortunately, most of the animals were hiding from their view while seeking shelter from the weather. However, who was the one animal that showed up to his party in full force? The mighty bison! From that day forward, he has declared the bison his favorite animal. It made such a great impact on a young child, and now as he’s become older, he has learned there are many more reasons for the importance of this animal. Showing up to his birthday party was the icing on the cake! Timothy also serves the Illinois Optometic Association, Peoria Sunday Morning League, Central Illinois Chapter of the Indiana University Alumni Association, Peoria Riverfront Museum, Volunteer and On-Air Personality for WTVP, and formerly served the Lakeview Museum, Methodist College, and Young Professionals Organization of Greater Peoria.

Mike Wells

Mike is employed with OSF HealthCare System since 2005 in various leadership roles. Currently, he serves as President of OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Prior to that, he worked for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria in various roles that included management of clinical programs and business operations including marketing and communications. Prior to that, was a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor providing child and family therapy services in private practice and in community mental health. He serves on the board because of Wildlife Prairie Park’s commitment to the local community and to the families, in particular, resonates with the mission at the Children’s Hospital. He has long been a fan of Wildlife Prairie Park so he was thrilled when the opportunity to serve on the board presented itself. His favorite memory is the first time he ever came to the park nearly 30 years ago! He and his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time, attended a wedding and reception at the park. It was a fun place to celebrate and he remembers it being a perfect balance of formality and elegance against the natural backdrop of the park. He hadn’t seen anything like it! His favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the white bison. He is married to Kim Wells.

Zach Morgenstern

Finance & Recreation Committees

Zack is an associate at David Vaughan Investments and serves on the Recreation committee at Wildlife Prairie Park and was a part of the recent integration of Kayaks at the park. He serves on the committee and board to ensure that the park can be enjoyed by all for generations to come! Zack has always had an affinity for animals and has very fond memories of coming to the park as a child and looks forward to the preservation of Wildlife’s education, conservation, and recreation. His favorite animal at the park is the gray wolf and he is married to Casey and has a daughter named Quinn.

James M. Tomlin

Forrest Park Foundation Appointee

James is a retired Captain JAGC, USNR, Vice President/Treasurer of the Forest Park Foundation, and has been self-employed as an attorney since 1975. He serves on the board to be involved with the development, growth and “rebirth” of Wildlife Prairie Park since before it opened to the public. He has served as the representative of Forest Park Foundation since the restructuring of the Board. James’s favorite memory is observing the bison herd during the birth of a calf. His favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the cougar. James has previously served as President of Neighborhood House Association and Tower Park Board in Peoria Heights, IL along with other civic boards. In 2001, he was awarded the Illinois Bar Association Community Service Award. James is married to Barbara R. Soldwedel.

Les Cohen

Building & Ground Committee

Les Cohen is President and CEO of Cohen Development Company.  Cohen is recognized for innovative and environmental design.  He has projects throughout Central Illinois, including Westlake Shopping Center in Peoria.

Natalie Finnie

Natalie Phelps Finnie is the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Natalie served as deputy director for IDNR since August of 2021 where she was overseeing legislative affairs, land management, and more.

She also served as the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act coordinator for the department, coordinating with the governor’s office and the U.S. Department of Interior to manage one of the largest capital investments in Illinois history.  She was a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 118th District from September 2017 to January 2019.

Finnie earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Southern Indiana and a master’s degree in nursing-family nurse practitioner from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Thomas D. Schlink

Finance/Audit Committee

Thomas is the President of F&M Bank in the Peoria Market and serves on the Finance/Audit committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. Thomas serves on the board to help make sure the animals at the park are safe and healthy. He wants to utilize his financial background to make the park stronger financially. He also wants to help increase the number of people that come to the park as he feels it is a community treasure! David’s favorite memory is spending a weekend at Cabin on the Hill with his family and coming to the park as a child with his mom and siblings. His favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the badger. David also serves on the board for the Heart of Illinois United Way, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, and Heart of Illinois Harvest. He is married to Deirdre and has a daughter named Rosie.

Kimberly R. Doe

Finance/Audit Committee

Kimberly (Kim) R. Doe is the Division CFO for Large Power Systems Division. She has financial responsibility for Large Power Systems Division, within Caterpillar Inc.

Previous to her current position, Kim was the CFO for Resource Industries and the Chief Audit Officer for Caterpillar Inc. and had worldwide responsibility for Corporate Auditing & Controls. Kim joined Caterpillar in 1998 as an accountant followed by a series of positions with increasing responsibilities. Kim has held the leadership positions of corporate business planning & forecasting manager in Corporate Accounting and Divisional CFO for Caterpillar’s Diversified Products Division, Earthmoving Division and Global Power Solutions Division.

Kim obtained her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bradley University and has a master’s degree in business administration from Illinois State University. She also has participated in a  Duke University executive leadership program and is a Certified Public Accountant. Kim and her husband have three children and reside in Brimfield, Ill.

Travis Weaver

Education Committee

Travis loves the outdoors and has a passion for education and providing young people with tools to help them be successful in life. He has demonstrated this passion as a prior board member with CASA, a prior big brother with BBBS, and in his new role as a GED tutor with Moonlight Coalition. Professionally, he is a Strategy Manager at Caterpillar and has received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Travis grew up on a large animal farm in Central Illinois; however, his favorite local large animal is the bison at Wildlife Prairie Park.

Mike Unes

Mike Unes has been the UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois Foundation Vice President since January 1, 2020. Unes is a community-minded leader with a proven track record in public service and fundraising. His work at the Foundation includes a commitment to generate resources for the sustainability and advancement of healthcare in Greater Peoria and surrounding communities. Prior to joining the UPH team, Unes served five terms in the Illinois General Assembly, representing the 91st District in the House of Representatives. There, Unes focused his work on improving the quality of life, access to quality services, and Illinois’ overall financial stability. Unes is still active with many organizations in the community, including current Board President of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce.

Sharon Williams

Recreation Committee

Sharon K. Williams is a life-long resident of the Peoria area. She was first elected to the County Board in 2012. Sharon is the Editor/Business Manager of The Labor Paper, where she has worked since 1994. Sharon is a member of the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Auxiliary. She has volunteered for the Heart of Illinois United Way, where she is a pillar society member. She served as former secretary and board member of the Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters and was a board member for the Friendship House and Global Village. In addition to serving as a Union Counselor with the Labor Council of West Central Illinois, Sharon has volunteered her time for the Union Construction Career Expo and the annual Labor Day Parade.

Lindsey Birkel

Lindsey is HR Director for Caterpillar’s Global Construction & Infrastructure division. Her responsibilities include the creation and execution of a strategic HR plan designed to attract, retain and develop talent globally through compensation and benefits design, talent acquisition, leadership capability development, succession planning and employee communications.

In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys spending time with her husband, Dustin, ten-year old son, Lucas, and their yellow lab, Koda; in addition, Lindsey enjoys exercising, dancing and traveling.  She is an avid sports fan, cheering on the Bradley Braves, Fighting Illini basketball, those beloved Chicago Cubs and her son’s travel baseball team!

Lindsey received her masters degree from Bradley University in December 2005 in Human Service Administration and Leadership Development.

Leslie A. Zeaman

Leslie Zeaman is general manager of GreenWise Lactic LLC, a joint venture between ADM and LG Chem to produce lactic acid. In this role, Zeaman has responsibility for oversight of the construction and commercial development of the new JV while working closely with the leaders for ADM and LG Chem’s second JV, LG Chem Illinois Biochem, which will produce polylactic acid. Once the new facility is complete and the JV begins commercial operation, Zeaman will manage all aspects of the GreenWise business.

Zeaman joined ADM in 1999 and has held several leadership roles throughout the finance organization – from focusing on closing the books and colleague development to compliance and business planning – while partnering closely with leaders across ADM. Prior to her current position, she was finance director for Ag
Services & Oilseeds.

Zeaman holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Millikin University in Decatur, IL; an MBA from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana; and an MBA from TIAS School for Business and Society in Tilburg, Netherlands.