Today the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County announced the June 15 retirement of Brent Manning, its executive director.
According to Forest Preserve District President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., “Hiring him in 2003 was the single most important decision I made after we split from the county board in 2002. He was instrumental in guiding our Board of Commissioners to operate as a separate entity and brought state- and nationwide credibility to the Forest Preserve District.” Pierotti added, “We were the first board in the state to split, and we have since become a benchmark for others making the same change.”
Pierotti went on to say that on a personal note he will miss his close interactions with Manning. “We’ve worked very closely over the past 10 years, and I consider our relationship to be more than merely an employer-employee relationship. I will truly miss his input and our discussions.”
Under Manning’s direction, the District has achieved many significant accomplishments.
- Maintained its financial integrity and AAA bond rating
- Placed a greater emphasis on long-term financial planning, turning the District’s five-year plan into a 15-year-and-beyond plan
- Developed the District’s land acquisition efforts into a prioritized, budget-oriented program
- Maintained a headcount at or below 2003 levels
- Created an award-winning education department
- Developed a fundraising effort that has resulted in a foundation that will be operational this summer
- Maintained and grew the District’s alternative-fuel vehicle program
- Developed a statewide leadership role for the District through the Illinois Association of Conservation and Forest Preserve Districts
- Maintained science as a primary directive
- Added additional miles to the District’s popular trail system
- Built a world-class archery area with a handicap-accessible fishing pier and an Urban Stream Research Center
Of these accomplishments Manning stated, “I want to stress that I strongly believe that the successes that occurred during my tenure should be attributed to staff, the president and the commission. The failures were mine.”
Manning came to the District with more than 20 years of experience in natural-resource management and administration in both the public and private sectors. He previously served as director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as well as the IDNR’s predecessor, the Illinois Department of Conservation. He was the director of field operations for Ducks Unlimited and worked as an environmental chemist with I.C. Industries. Manning earned a master’s degree in zoology and bachelor of science degrees in environmental biology and zoology from Eastern Illinois University.