(This article originally published in our August 2016 issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Arch.)

Jean Follett and Doug Thompson of Wheaton recently made the first major gift commitment to Landmarks Illinois under a new funding initiative— a tremendous $91,000 to support its Springfield Office, which provides preservation advocacy to areas outside of the Chicagoland. The commitment spans three years and is also comprised of significant matching funds from the Follett Corporation.

As a statewide organization, it was critical to gather feedback from people throughout Illinois to inform our new five-year strategic plan, but we were limited in what we could accomplish within our short window of time.

Enter Jean Follett, long-time LI leader, who volunteered to facilitate eight strategic planning sessions throughout the state this spring. There, she heard that LI is often the only resource people have to help save or reuse an important historic place.

“Over and over, stakeholders said, ‘You need more Franks,’ referring to LI’s Springfield Office Director, Frank Butterfield. That planted the seed,” said Jean.

Shortly after the planning sessions ended, Jean and Doug made the momentous decision to pledge the first-ever major gift to LI’s statewide advocacy program, kicking off a new funding initiative that, with additional gifts, will enable us to add another field office within the next five years and double our statewide impact.

Jean Follett, an historic preservation consultant, went off the Board of Directors in June after serving three consecutive two-year terms and chairing the Preservation Issues Committee and Strategic Planning Working Group. Previously, she served in multiple staff positions at LI including Interim President in 2011. With a B.A. in the history of architecture and planning from Brown University and a Ph.D. in American and New England studies from Boston University, as well as a long-time passion for historic preservation, Jean was and continues to be a tremendous resource for Landmarks Illinois.

Although Jean has “retired” for now, she will remain on the Preservation Issues Committee and has joined the new Emeritus Board to continue her steadfast support of our organization and its mission-driven work to help people save places.

When they are not traveling to historic sites the world over, or working on yet another fixer-upper, Jean and Doug enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.

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