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

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 the 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 Kleeman – Vice President

Mike has lived in Lake Zurich since 2006 with his wife and 2 children.   He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Marketing and currently works in Operations for a financial services company.   Mike grew up in an area of suburban Chicago where he feels lucky to have woods to explore 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.


John Thode – Treasurer

John Thode grew up in Niles, Illinois and is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.  He has worked various electrical engineering and management positions around the country and is currently a clinical professor of entreprenurship at the University of Illinois.     He plays jazz trumpet for Reunion Jazz Orchestra, his high school alumni band, and has run many marathons.  He and wife Judi have lived in the area since 1992.

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  that she spoils rotten.   She has worked for McHenry County Conservation District for many years.  Her 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 since the early 90’s 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.


Erin Poliakon, AOF Board of Advisors

Alicia Timm – Board Member

Alicia grew up in the “grids” of Oak Park and Elmhurst. She moved to Lake Zurich with her husband and two young children in 2014. They wanted to get “out of the city” and love Lake Zurich and the green spaces that make it so special and unique in Illinois. Alicia has a degree from Knox College in Latin American/Women’s Studies. The natural beauty of Lake County inspired her to start learning more about the environment and local flora/fauna. She became obsessed with native plants and soon after had her property certified by Conservation@Home through Conserve Lake County (now Openlands) and as a Habitat Corridor through the Citizens for Conservation (CFC) of Barrington. She worked for Trader Joe’s for 16 years and now hopes to put full-time energy into conservation and restoration of the Lake Zurich area. She is thrilled to be working with The Ancient Oaks Foundation to continue the work and education going on at home.

Erin Poliakon, AOF Board of Advisors

Dave Mock – Board Member

Dave grew up in the Bensenville/Wood Dale area. He moved to Lake Zurich 12 years ago with his wife, Sue, and his son, Ricky (12). He worked 37 years for a Fortune 500 industrial supplier in the IT sector. He has been enjoying retirement and can often be found on Lake Zurich “fishing for science” by taking Creel Surveys. He started his volunteer involvement with AOF by monitoring the nesting activities of the Bird Boxes at Kuechmann Arboretum and Oak Ridge Marsh. He is an avid fisherman and has always been fascinated with the animal world. He is looking forward to working with the AOF team and having the opportunity to meet more of our residents of all ages through educational activities and events.

Erin Poliakon, AOF Board of Advisors

Michelle Titterton – Board Member

A longtime resident of Lake Zurich, Michelle grew up traveling the world.  She has resided in six different countries and traveled to more than 20 for work.  She spent fifteen years working in the energy sector prior to transitioning into education.  She is currently the Science Department Chair at Carmel Catholic High school and teaches green chemistry and sustainability.  An avid gardener, Michelle was influenced by her years spent in England and was one of the original founders of the Jubilee Garden at Saint Francis de Sales parish in Lake Zurich.  Having raised four children in Lake Zurich, Michelle is passionate about outdoor and nature-themed educational programming for the community.  Michelle is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and is completing a master’s degree in sustainability science.     

Erin Poliakon, AOF Board of Advisors

Claire Slattery – Executive Director

Claire, a Lake Zurich local, assumes responsibility for day to day operations as well as marketing, public relations and fundraising for the foundation. Having owned Mindful Mix, a Lake Zurich based full service marketing company, Ms. Slattery joins us with over 22 years of marketing experience. As Past President and now the Executive Director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, she has deep knowledge of the local economy and brings added depth to our mission of preserving local natural areas through education, volunteerism, supportive funding and long-term planning.  She also leads with experiences she has had serving as a Director on various local non-profits Boards such as the District 95 Educational Foundation, the American Marketing Association – Chicago Chapter, and the May Whitney Parent Teacher Organization.

Join the AOF Board

We’re expanding the foundation’s board. We’ve already made great progress preserving the Lake Zurich area’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.