Debra Walker Johnson: President & Executive Director

Chicago, IL – Debra Walker Johnson has been appointed President & Executive Director of the Forest Preserve Foundation, a public-private partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Walker Johnson brings more than 20 years of nonprofit executive management experience to the Foundation, which provides support for youth conservation internships that bring more people of color and low-income young adults into the conservation field and summer job programs for young people in Cook County. It also raises funds to supplement restoration projects to keep the Preserves ecologically healthy and to make sure all communities have access to the Preserves.

Walker Johnson has dedicated the bulk of her career connecting individuals to resources and services that enable them to participate in society fully. Her extensive background includes fund development, marketing and communications, advocacy and government relations. She has successfully designed and implemented programs and services that address systemic barriers affecting underserved communities, including access to financing for community development, legal services, technology access, and employment and training.

Most recently, she served as Vice President of Resource Development and Strategic Partnerships for IFF, a community development financial institution that acts as a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant and developer to help nonprofits and their communities thrive.

The Forest Preserve Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation dedicated to raising funds and in-kind resources to support initiatives in the Forest Preserves of Cook County that are new, innovative and not able to be supported through public resources. Since its founding, the Foundation has contributed over $2 million to support programming across several core investment areas.