Board Members

Board Members 2017-05-04T11:15:04+00:00

Prospective Board Member Packet Available

Interested in joining our dynamic Board that is making great progress in preserving the Lake Zurich area’s oak woodlands and natural areas? Check out the Prospective Board Member Packet below.

Meet the Board

Judith Thode, President

Judith Thode

President Judi calls Aurora, Illinois, her hometown. She graduated from West Suburban Hospital School of Nursing in Oak Park and Elmhurst College and is a registered nurse. But her first love is nature, and she has volunteered with various local conservation groups over th years. She earned a certificate in Ecological Restoration from McHenry County Conservation District and established the Oak Ridge Marsh Conservation Group in 2007. She has also served on the Lake Zurich Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Tree Commission. She recently began taking hammered dulcimer lessons and is making slow but steady progress toward her Carnegie Hall debut.

MIke Kleenman, Vice President

Mike Kleeman

Vice President Mike has lived in Lake Zurich for 8 years. He and his wife Sarah have 2 children, Megan (5) and Owen (1) and their yellow lab, Molly. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Marketing and currently works in marketing operations for Capital One. Mike grew up in an area of suburban Chicago where he feels lucky to have woods to explore, a lake nearby to fish, and open spaces to play sports.  He and his wife chose to live in Lake Zurich because of its diversity of natural spaces instead of just housing developments. Mike is happy to have the opportunity with Ancient Oaks to help preserve these spaces and return them back to the way they once were, where native plants, animals and insects thrive for residents of all ages to enjoy.

Jim Mihelic, Secretary

Jim Mihelic

Secretary Jim Mihelic was born in St. Joe, Missouri but calls Omaha, Nebraska, his hometown.  He graduated from Creighton University and retired from GTE after working as a regional sales manager. He and Mary have been very involved with Ancient Oaks LZ (formerly Oak Ridge Marsh Conservation Group) assisting in habitat restoration of the Oak Ridge Marsh Nature Park.  He has also served on the Tree Commission.  Both Mike and Mary are also craft beer and jazz afficianados and are excellent swing dancers.

John Thode, Treasuer

John Thode

Treasurer John Thode grew up in Niles, Illinois and is a graducate of the University of Illinois, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.  He has worked various electrical engineering and management positions around the country.  Currently he works for Digital Optics.  He and Judi have been married for 32 years and have three children, Matthew (with lovely bride Brittany and grand baby on the way), Angela and Lisa.  He plays jazz trumpet for Reunion Jazz Orchestra, his high school alumni band, and has ran many marathons.  They have lived in the area for 22 years.

Mary McGuinness Kozub

Mary McGuinness Kozub

Board Member Mary’s degree from the University of Wisconsin was in Resource Management and Environmental Law Enforcement.  Mary has been Married to Paul for 30 years!!!!! Meghan and Joseph are their kids, and they have two border collies she spoils rotten. I have worked for McHenry County Conservation District for 15 years. My past employment includes, Village of Lake Zurich, Park District of Highland Park, Bryon Forest Preserve, Vernon Township and Lord and Taylor! Mary has lived in Lake Zurich for 21 years and served as a founding member of the Village of Lake Zurich’s Tree Commission for 19 years.  She is fascinated with large carnivores and urban ecology, and she will devour any information on these.

Shannon Westphal

Board Member Shannon grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan and moved to Illinois in 1998 when she finished college.  She has worked for The Care of Trees for 19 years and held various roles from Plant Health Care Technician to Regional Operations Coordinator to her current role of Sales Arborist.  Shannon has a BS in Forest Conservation from Michigan State University, she has been an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist since 2000 and is a licensed pesticide applicator for the state of Illinois.  She started hanging around trees at a young age in the National Forests of Northern Michigan and has loved trees and the environment ever since.  Shannon has volunteered with The McHenry County Land Conservancy.  When she isn’t at work Shannon enjoys spending time watching her daughter play soccer and basketball, hiking with one or all three of her dogs or snuggling with a book and one of her cats.


Ashley Stevenson, Director Ex-Officio

Ashley Stevenson

Director Ex-Officio Ashley originally hails from Oregon, and after a brief stint in Louisiana as a second-grade teacher, she rediscovered her passions, became a wildland firefighter in Oregon, and then moved to Chicago for a broadcasting school. Since then she’s been freelancing in tv and video production and web design, and has been exploring the outdoors in Illinois. She is excited to be in charge of social media and website design for the Ancient Oaks Foundation. In her freetime she is pursuing improv and all forms of creative expression in Chicago.

Join the AOF Board

We’re expanding the foundation’s board. We’ve already made great progress preserving Lake Zurich’s oak woodlands and natural areas but there’s more work to be done. If you’re interested in joining the board then please download and review the materials provided in the Prospective Board Members packet. Please return the completed documents to Judi Thode at 52 Robertson Rd, Lake Zurich IL 60047.