Meet the 2023 Wild Ones West Cook


Laura Hartwell-Berlin, President, Program Co-Chair
Laura has been a longtime advocate, supporter, and volunteer with WOWC. She has made our chapter stronger than ever with her organizational skills, tenacity, and willingness to adjust and adapt. Laura oversees several critical areas: Programs, the Native Garden Tour, and plant sales. 

Stephanie Walquist, Vice-president and Founding Member
Stephanie has also been with WOWC since 2013. Her passion has been in developing Programs, Communications, and Community Outreach. She brings a sense of urgency about planting natives and what she terms eco-sensitive maintenance. 

Sharon Storbeck, Treasurer
Sharon has also been with WOWC shortly after its founding. She is also on the Plant Sale Committee. She has given us steady guidance about our finances and plant sales strategies over the years.

Byron Lanning, Secretary Board Member
Planting natives for many years, Byron brings a practical eye to our activities, questioning us to ensure we have clarification on our goals and strategies. He is the person who made our dream come true of our yard sign. When we are helping maintain gardens or install new ones, Byron has any (literal) tool for the situation. Byron is the creative voice behind our newsletters. We are so lucky that he lends his unique style and voice to us!

Candace Blank, Membership Chair
A long-time member whom we finally convinced to join the board, Candace is an instrumental part of Wild Ones and has developed systems of welcoming and retaining members of our organization. She is passionate about our mission and about members. With whatever we do, she reminds us about where our focus should be: on members.

Carolyn Cullen, Plant Sale Committee Chairperson
Carolyn has been with WOWC since 2014 and a Wild Ones member since 2000. A long-time native plant advocate and restoration volunteer, Carolyn joined to help bring native plants to home gardens. She is the woman behind our Shopify site, a model for so many other non-profits and WO chapters.

Adrian Ayres Fisher, Board Member and Programming CommitteeAdrian is a long-time WOWC participant who loves native plants and our Northern Illinois ecosystem. She gardens for pollinators at home and volunteers with the Forest Preserves of Cook County at several sites. Adrian is also our lead on many advocacy initiatives; she brings her depth of knowledge, research, and writing skills to many issues and is focused on results.

Doug Chien, Board Member, Board Member and Grant Committee ChairDouglas brings 25+ years of professional and volunteer experience in native landscaping, ecological restoration, and environmental advocacy. He’s a volunteer Steward of an Illinois Nature Preserve within the Cook County forest preserves. His home reflects his values with native landscaping and a high-efficiency building envelope.

Kerrie Gonzalez, Board Member

Kerrie grew up in a gardening family, so her mother requested each Mother’s Day they work in the yard and spend the day planting with her.  Gardening became a way for all of them to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and each other. Six years ago, she and her husband bought their current home and were excited to begin gardening to make the landscape their own. They stumbled upon a PBS show that first summer where they were introduced to native plants which changed Kerrie’s perspective on how and what to plant. She shifted her gardening practices and is continuing to learn how to garden with these plants. Through reading as well as attending seminars and workshops, she has built some knowledge, and her interest has moved toward a passion. This opened her eyes to a whole new community. Wild Ones is a part of that growth. She found her community!

A year ago, she raised her hand to become Wild Ones West Cook (WOWC Volunteer Coordinator so that she could become more involved with our chapter. During this time, she worked with various committees to organize volunteer support for events. In this role, she made use of her professional skills in training and development and project management.  For example, with the help of the Spring Plant Sale committee, they all collaborated to develop training to prepare volunteers for the tasks to simplify and organize these busy days.

She would like to contribute to the WOWC Board in the sharing of ideas, with an openness to growing and learning, and positively affecting change. She will bring her skill set and passion to the community to make a difference while furthering the mission and goals of Wild Ones West Cook.

Outgoing board members:

We want to recognize our board members who finished their terms and left a lasting impact on Wild Ones West Cook :

Cynthia Colvin

Cynthia supported many initiatives and assisted at important events like our plant sales. We will miss her friendly and uplifting presence!