Surprising choice for new DNR director

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s choice to run the Illinois DNR is Colleen Callahan, a 61-year-old Edwards resident who runs her own communications consulting firm, formerly worked as an agriculture broadcaster and has deep roots in Illinois politics.

In his announcement, Pritzker did not point out any connections Callahan has with the state’s outdoors.

Callahan spent more than seven years as state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois.

“During her tenure, she oversaw a 20 percent reduction in staffing while still being able to generate a $1 billion increase in the Illinois loan portfolio,” a news release from Pritzker’s office stated. “Prior, Callahan served as the agribusiness director for WMBD in Peoria, a position she held for 30 years. She was the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.”

According to her bio, Callahan received her Bachelor of Science in agricultural communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As pointed out by the Peoria Journal Star shortly after the announcement, “Callahan has also been active in local Democratic politics, attending a number of Pritzker campaign events during the 2018 election cycle, including the opening of his Peoria campaign office. She was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 2008, running against Aaron Schock to represent the Peoria-centered 18th Congressional District.”

On her Facebook page, Callahan announced the appointment.

“I welcome the opportunity to communicate the importance and impact of our natural resources and the diverse responsibilities of Illinois DNR,” she wrote. “From Mines and Minerals to Museums and Management of Lands; from Parks to Preservation of History; from Water to Wildlife…the oversight is vast and various. I’m looking forward to connecting with those who use and those who depend on our state’s greatest asset, our natural resources.”


Stay tuned as we try to get a better grip on the appointment.

Categories: Illinois – Ralph Loos

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