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Jane Balaban Honored as 2021 Unsung Heroine

Thursday, March 04, 2021
Special to suffredin.org

Skokie resident Jane Balaban received the 2021 Unsung Heroine Award for the 13th Cook County district from the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues. The award was presented by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle during a virtual ceremony on March 4, 2021.

Jane Balaban is a tireless champion of the forest preserves and an environmental volunteer extraordinaire.  Her efforts have contributed to dramatic improvements in the local forest preserves and brought together hundreds of volunteers annually who work to enrich the biodiversity of public nature preserves.

She helped found the North Branch Restoration Project to take care of the forest preserves along the North Branch of the Chicago River. After 45 years, their experienced stewards now help manage 20 sites from Chicago to Northbrook.  The land is visibly healthier. Her outreach has resulted in thousands of youth volunteers who will ensure the Preserves endure for future generations.  Jane connects schools, faith communities and the general public to the local natural areas that enrich their lives.  She is a consummate diplomat who is beloved and respected by fellow volunteers and valued by Forest Preserve staff and elected officials who benefit from her deep commitment.

Jane is a former trustee for the Nature Conservancy Illinois Chapter and served on its Conservation Committee.  She has been an organizer and chair of the Forest Preserves Key Stewards Committee which connects volunteer stewards across Cook County and provides a critical link between them and the volunteer management staff of the Forest Preserves. She serves on the Next Century Conservation Plan Steering Committee.

Jane is often “rewarded” by being asked to do even more work because people recognize that if Jane is in charge the work will get done and get done well.  The Cook County Unsung Heroine honorees were selected based on their contributions to their communities, families and professional endeavors that are vital, but seldom recognized. They are drawn from the community they serve.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin represents the 13th County Board District, which includes areas of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka and Chicago’s 49th and 50th Wards.

 



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