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 an Executive Director who reports directly to the Board of Directors.

The Board consists of a maximum of 20 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

Vice Chair & Chair-f Wildlife Committee

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.

Debbie Simon

Secretary & Chair - Personnel Committee

Debbie retired as the President/CEO of UPH Peoria and serves on the Personnel committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. She serves on the board because she believes in the Mission of the Park. Debbie’s favorite memory includes picnics with families and kids at the park. Her favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the Bison! She also serves on the boards for Illinois Mutual, Memorial Hospital-Carthage, IL, and Bradley University. Debbie is married to Rick and has a son named David and daughter-in-law named Allie.

Janie Copeland

Treasurer & Chair - Finance Committee

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.

Mike Everett

Executive Committee

Mike is a Retired electrician/Union Business Manager serving on the Executive Committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. He has had a long relationship with the park through labor unions and volunteer projects. Mike’s favorite memory is arriving early for meetings and being greeted by lots of deer. His favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal are the otters. He has served as board chair from 2019-2021. Mike also serves as an ICC Trustee, on the Rebuilding Together board, and previously on the United Way and Goodwill Industries boards. Mike is married to Ginny Everett.

Tom Fliege

Chair - Building & Grounds Committee

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.

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.

Bill Cirone

Chair - Cabin Oversight Committee

William has worked in the Transportation, Logistics, and Warehousing industry his entire working career. Senior management and ownership. His last owned business, Federal Warehouse Company and subsidiaries. He retired and sold the company in May 2016 through planned succession buy out. He is currently engaged in farm development, community work, conservation activities, outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing education and participation, and spends three months a year at his second home in south Texas. William serves on the board to ensure that our region preserves one of the most valuable assets that we have in this region for teaching conservation, stewardship, outdoor recreation, animal, plant, and environmental education. Tracts of diverse ecology like this one in Central Illinois are gifts that need to be preserved to tickle the curiosity in our youth to seek STEM educations and life balance with nature. His favorite memory is watching the stress melt away from children and parents faces as they leave their cars and buses and walk into the park is the greatest joy for him and is the key reason why he remains involved in this jewel in our community. He says all animals at Wildlife Prairie Park are important to him, their health, safety, and survival. All are his favorites! William has served on many industry and community boards over his lifetime and chaired several key projects or events in the Peoria Region of the many years. Truly too many to list!

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.

Colleen Callahan

IDNR Appointee

Colleen currently works as the Director at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. And because of that she is an automatic representative on the Wildlife Prairie Park board. Colleen definitely can’t pick a favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal, as she says it’s like asking who is your favorite child! 

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.

Sreedhar Tatavarthi

Finance/Audit Committee

Sreedhar currently works as the Director of Product at Thales, previously working as a Software Engineer for companies like UPS, Bell South, and Caterpillar and serves on the Finance/Audit committee at Wildlife Prairie Park. He serves on the board because as a family with a young kid, they have enjoyed the park over the years and he wanted to give back to the park and the community at large by making the park even more attractive to young families. His favorite memory is the Easter egg hunt. He says it is always fun, and in 2017 his family along with a group of friends had a lot of fun volunteering, participating in the egg hunt and other park activities that day. Sreedhar’s favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is Molly the Black Bear. He is married to Raje Addepalli and has a daughter named Chinmayee. 

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

Robert Beecham

Building/Grounds Committee

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!

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.

Marylean Abney

Finance/Audit Committee

MaryLean previously worked at Caterpillar for 40 years, followed by 2 years with USS, and currently working with Purtec Ink. She serves on the board because she loves the park, and feels it is very important to the community. Her favorite memory is taking her daughter to the park when she was 8 years old! MaryLean’s favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the bison. MaryLean is married to William and has a daughter named Tameka and a granddaughter named Ava. 

Stephanie J. Hill

Chair - Marketing Committee

Stephanie is originally from Iowa, starting her career working at the Science Center of Iowa developing children’s programs and camps. After college, she started working as an Event and Marketing Coordinator at the Blank Park Zoo. When she married her husband, Josh, she re-located to Peoria for his job. She began her career as the Director of Membership and Marketing at the Country Club of Peoria where she met so many great souls and quickly fell in love with the Peoria Community. Currently, she works as a Communications Coordinator for OSF HealthCare Foundation. Stephanie serves on the board because it provides our community with beautiful outdoor adventures, it protects wildlife and gives our community a chance to immerse ourselves in that experience, it is a place for unique family experiences, a stunning place for a getaway, a natural playground, unique and special. Her favorite memory at the park is taking her son, Owen, for his second birthday. They rode the train, hiked, and explored all the animals. She remembers soaking in the wonder in his eyes and just experiencing pure joy with him. Her favorite Wildlife Prairie Park animal is the otters! She could sit and watch them for hours! Stephanie also serves the Rotary Club of Peoria North.

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.