Linda Puvogel, President
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Linda earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Loyola University, Chicago. She practiced law for twenty years in the Chicago area before joining the staff of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. In 2012, Linda retired from her position as assistant dean of Dominican's Brennan School of Business, and she and her husband have been full-time residents of Grand Beach, Michigan since then. Linda is happy to have returned to her Michigan roots and is especially pleased to be involved in the preservation and restoration work of Chikaming Open Lands in this beautiful corner of the state.
David Eblen, Vice President & Secretary
David was introduced to Southwest Michigan in 1971 when he married into a family that had been coming to Lakeside since the 1920s. A summer home and the diverse natural habitat of the area still make it a major draw for his family. David was a secondary school teacher and administrator for 37 years in Chicago’s western suburbs, culminating with 17 years as Superintendent of the Downers Grove High School District. He holds a BA in American Studies from Williams College and a PhD in Educational Administration from The University of Chicago. In retirement David enjoys bicycling, gardening, traveling, grandfathering, and volunteering with COL.
Bill Racine, Treasurer
Having lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, Bill and his family began taking summer vacations in Lakeside, Michigan in the 1940's, and he has made Berrien County his home since 1974. Bill and his wife Nancy raised their three boys in Niles, Michigan during which time he was employed at Clark Equipment Company and later owned Ramer Products in Niles. Since his retirement in 2009, Bill and Nancy have become full-time residents of Lakeside. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with degree in Finance, and after four years in the Navy as an aviation weather forecaster, he was employed by The Northern Trust Bank in Chicago. Bill enjoys skiing and golf, and has been a licensed pilot for 50 years. He has been a member of various boards, including The United Way, Old Kent Bank, Signal Point Club, Chikaming Country Club, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve and The Hunter Foundation.
Alan Berkshire, Board of Directors
A graduate of The University of Michigan and Columbia University School of Law, Alan’s professional career has included private law practice and senior executive roles in three asset management firms. He has been familiar with the beautiful natural landscape of Berrien County his entire life, having grown up nearby in Northwest Indiana and as a homeowner in Chikaming Township since 1993. Alan is committed to the mission of Chikaming Open Lands and to his garden, where he likes to spend his free time working and planning changes.
Ellen Frankle, Board of Directors
An Atlanta native, Ellen came to the Midwest to attend Northwestern University. After earning a Masters degree in Librarianship from Emory University, she returned to the Midwest where she and her late husband Larry settled in New Buffalo full time in 1982. She was active in her two daughters’ schools, serving on the Board of the Montessori School of Michigan City, and volunteering in various capacities until they graduated from La Lumiere School. Ellen has served on the Board of Sinai Temple of Michigan City, and on the Board of Sinai Temple Sisterhood. Currently, she is managing partner for Grand Beach Land Development, Inc. and Grand Beach Investments, LLC. Ellen enjoys searching for beach glass on the shoreline, travelling, and hiking -- and now working to protect and preserve our special corner of Michigan for the generations to come.
Victoria J. Herget, Board of Directors
Victoria J. Herget has been an Independent Director of the First Oppenheimer Funds since 2011 and a Director of United Educators since 2004. She has served as Board Chair of United Educators since 2008. Until her retirement in 2001, Vicki was a managing director of Zurich Scudder Investments, an investment management firm. She joined the organization upon graduating from Wellesley College in 1973 with a BA in Economics. She was a principal of the firm from 1985 until she became a managing director in 1993. Vicki also earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago in finance and accounting and is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and a Chartered Investment Counselor. Vicki serves as chair of the Newberry Library Board of Trustees, and as a trustee of Mather LifeWays. In her leisure time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, traveling and watching sports.
Frank Richter, Board of Directors
Frank is the Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. His choice of a career in geology and geophysics was motivated in no small part because of my enthusiasm for the outdoors. An avid kayaker, it was by paddling on the Galien River that Frank first became aware of Chikaming Open Lands and its role in protecting the Louis J. Sima Great Lakes Marsh. Over the more than thirty years that he has had a home in Chikaming Township he has found many additional reasons to admire and enjoy what Chikaming Open Lands has done to protect the diverse natural environments of our region.
Clay Robinson, Board of Directors
Born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, Clay participated in Boy Scouts, ultimately becoming an Eagle Scout. His experience in Boy Scouts lead him to major in Geology at Western Illinois. He spent 35 years as a geoscientist in the oil and gas business which offered him opportunities to work globally. Now "semi-retired," Clay is still active with directorships at two oil and gas companies. It's his love of nature which drew him to serve on Chikaming Open Lands' Board of Directors.
Jean Smith, Board of Directors
Jean was born in Chicago and spent many childhood summers in Lakeside. She graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in History. She married Steve Smith and, after twelve corporate moves around the country, settled in Lakeside, Michigan. Jean is a civically minded person and has been involved in various organizations including the Junior League; the Board of Trustees for Pine Manor College; the Visiting Nurse Association Board; Chaparral High School site management program in Scottsdale; the YWCA Board of Phoenix; the Community Foundation of Phoenix; and Rainbow Days Board in Dallas. Additionally, Jean founded the first SIDS Chapter in Erie, PA, and served on the National SIDS Board. Closer to home, she is a member of the Berrien Community Foundation and the Lakeside Association. Jean loves this area and is committed to preserving it for future generations.
Bob Tatina, Board of Directors
Bob is Professor Emeritus in the Biology Department of Dakota Wesleyan University and Editor, Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science. Bob has a PhD in Botany, and has studied and worked in various forests and prairies in Illinois, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wyoming and Montana. He now lives year-round in Sawyer, and serves as the Chair of the Stewardship Committee at Chikaming Open Lands.
Peter Van Nice, Board of Directors
Peter Van Nice led the effort to create Chikaming Open Lands in 1999 and served as its first President. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Peter spent his career in marketing and corporate finance with the International Harvester Company and later, as a US Government bond trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. He chaired the Chikaming Township Master Plan Committee and has consulted with the Township Planning Commission. Peter is an avid amateur horticulturalist and landscape architect.
Donna Wetzler, Board of Directors
Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, Donna was introduced to Southwest Michigan when one of her law colleagues invited her and her husband to a house party in Lakeside in the late ‘70s. She and her husband were smitten and rented each summer for the next thirteen years from Eleanor Wilson (for whom Wilson Woods, COL’s first nature preserve, is named), before buying a house in Harbert in 1992. Donna was one of the first women to graduate from Yale in 1972, and received her law degree from Harvard Law school in 1975. She spent 26 years at the law firm of Gardner Carton and Douglas (now Drinker Biddle) before becoming the first General Counsel of Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s) in 2002. She retired in 2015 and now is happy to spend more time in Michigan. Donna served on the Board of the Acorn Center for the Performing Arts in Three Oaks from 2016-2018.