Pritzker Taps Political Scion as New Head of Illinois Department of Natural Resources


Natalie Phelps Finnie.  (Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources)Natalie Phelps Finnie. (Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

Pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate, Natalie Phelps Finnie is set to become only the second woman to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, after the pioneering footsteps of his immediate predecessor Colleen Callahan.

Callahan resigned on January 16 at the request of Governor JB Pritzker, having held the position since spring 2019. Phelps Finnie has been the department’s deputy director since August 2021, overseeing the Office of Land Management (including parks and historic sites), business legislative bodies, the Office of Oil and Gas Management and the Office of Mines and Minerals.

If confirmed, Phelps Finnie will inherit a department that is better financed and better equipped than it has in decades, though it’s still trying to catch up on a backlog of maintenance needs. At the same time, IDNR is being asked to tackle the heavy lifting on projects including the state’s 30 by 30 conservation plan and the state’s water plan.

The Phelps name is well known in political circles in Southern Illinois where Phelps Finnie was born and raised and still lives with her husband and three children. Her father, David Phelps, and her cousin, Brandon Phelps, were both elected to the Illinois House, representing the 118th District for nearly 30 years combined.

Phelps Finnie was tapped to serve out her cousin’s term from 2017 to 2019 when he resigned due to ill health, but lost his bid in 2018 to keep the post.

Professionally, Phelps Finnie has an undergraduate and graduate degree in nursing. His education in the biological sciences will be “helpful in policy decisions regarding the environment and conservation,” the IDNR said in a statement. announcing the appointment of Phelps Finnie.

Her husband, Kyle Finnie, is a third generation rancher and also works as a real estate agent specializing in “agricultural estates, ranches, dairies, hunting and woodlands”. The couple also own and operate a sawmill, Rose Creek Lumber.

“As deputy director of the agency, Natalie has worked with our ethics officer and legal team to ensure that she recuses herself from any direct policy decision that has an actual or potential conflict of interest, and she will continue to do so as director,” he said. stated. The IDNR spokesperson told WTTW News.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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