Arnold L. Randall is the General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the nation’s oldest and largest forest preserve system. He was appointed to this position by Forest Preserves Board President Toni Preckwinkle in December 2010.
Key highlights of his tenure include an increased focus on restoring and protecting Cook County’s most precious natural areas; the development and execution of strategic plans, including camping, recreation, trails and habitat restoration; the launch of a multi-year Centennial celebration to bring new and diverse audiences to the Preserves; and expanding the Preserves’ important role in the scientific and academic communities.
Under Mr. Randall, the Forest Preserves have also made tremendous strides in becoming a more transparent and effective government agency. In 2011, the Preserves completed a comprehensive operational audit and continues to implement key recommendations. In 2013, the Forest Preserves became only the second local government agency to be released from the Shakman Decree, a finding that verified that political consideration plays no role in employment decisions.
In 2014, the Preserves launched its award-winning Next Century Conservation Plan, an ambitious framework to ensure the agency will be a national conservation leader in its second century. Implementation of the plan is underway, including the completion the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, the first formalized restoration plan and the creation of the Conservation and Policy Council comprised of civic and business leaders who function as an independent advisory council.
In 2015, the Preserves reintroduced family and group camping for the first time in 50 years. Today, more than 100,000 visitors have visited the Forest Preserves’ new and revitalized campgrounds. The campgrounds serve first-time campers, as well as many urban youth, providing them the opportunity to connect with nature.
Mr. Randall previously served as Director of the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, where he planned and coordinated major public projects undertaken by the University, working as a liaison between the University and the City, neighbors, and other concerned parties. He led the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee's neighborhood legacy team and previously worked as Commissioner of the City of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, directing efforts to promote economic development and create jobs in the city.
Mr. Randall also served in a number of roles with the Chicago Park District between 1995 and 2007, including Director of Legislative and Community Affairs, Director of Planning and Development and Lakefront Area and South East Region Manager.
Mr. Randall holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and attended the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.
Mr. Randall is active in numerous civic and professional organizations. Affiliations have included the Chicago Community Development Commission (chair), The Chicago Plan Commission, Commission on Chicago Landmarks, the Public Buildings Commission, the Delta Institute Board, the Woodlawn Children's Promise Community, Woodlawn New Communities Program (NCP), American City Planning Directors' Council, American Planning Association, Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA), the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) Executive Committee, the Harper Court Foundation Board, and the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Board.
Mr. Randall has received local and national recognition for his contributions to recreation, leisure and open space programs. Recent recognitions include the Society for Outdoor Recreation Professionals’ Individual Service Award, the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials Outstanding Public Official Award, and the Civic Federation’s 2017 Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award.
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