Natalie Finnie to lead the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced appointments in his administration on Monday afternoon, a familiar name was in a new position on the list.

Natalie Finnie

Provided by IDNR

Natalie Finnie, of Eldorado, will now serve as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Finnie has served as deputy director of IDNR since August of 2021 where she oversaw the Office of Land Management, Legislative Department, Office of Oil & Gas Management, and Office of Mines and Mineral.

Prior to this, she served as state representative of the 118th District of the Illinois House from 2017 to 2019. She has experience as an advanced practice nurse and family nurse practitioner.

Finnie said she and Deputy Governor Andy Manar set goals for her when she became the deputy director of IDNR. She has since fulfilled those goals, creating a surplus of positive change within the IDNR system.

As a result, Manar recommended she take the helm of the organization. She met with the governor, and he agreed.

Many of the past directors of IDNR have backgrounds in science or conservation. Finnie’s background lies elsewhere. 

“I think my background in healthcare uniquely positions me to serve in leadership. In healthcare, you have to listen to people without being dismissive,” Finnie said, adding that listening without being dismissive is also required when serving the people of Illinois.

For Finnie, she and all the other employees of IDNR act as servants first and foremost to the people of Illinois, and serving is what she intends to do.

Finnie grew up in Eldorado and attends church there. She and her husband live on a cattle ranch in Elizabethtown.

“As a Southern Illinoisan, I live amongst the Shawnee National Forest and near Cave-in-Rock and Glenn O. Jones state parks. I have a great passion for the outdoors,” she said. “Illinois has beautiful parks all over the state.”

Illinois has 400 state parks and other sites the Department of Natural Resources manages. Finnie said some of those sites have been neglected too long.

As deputy director, she began catching up deferred maintenance at state parks, dropping the total left to complete from over $1M to around $800K. Finnie said they could not have completed that maintenance without the help of Gov. Pritzker getting the funding for it.

She plans to continue catching up the deferred maintenance.

Another goal or hers is to improve the interpretation of state historic sites.

“Their stories need to be culturally and historically accurate,” Finnie said.

She wants to improve communications between IDNR departments and make employees of IDNR feel more appreciated.

“I am really passionate about DNR’s mission and conservation,” Finnie said.

Finnie received her Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Southern Indiana. She received her Master of Science in Nursing at Vanderbilt University.

She and her husband have three children.

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Region: Southern,Politics,City: Carbondale,Region: Carbondale

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January 23, 2023 at 06:38PM

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