Meet the Director

Director Callahan next to Smokey the Bear

Colleen Callahan

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Colleen Callahan, of Kickapoo, Ill., began her appointment as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources March 1, 2019; she was confirmed by the Illinois Senate April 12, 2019.

Appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019, Callahan brings a wealth of professional and public service experience to the department.

Prior to her appointment to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Callahan served as state director of Illinois’ Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Callahan managed a 20 percent reduction in staffing at Rural Development while, at the same time, generating a $1 billion increase in the Illinois loan portfolio. Callahan’s success as Illinois’ director for Rural Development led the agency to ask her to train other Rural Development state offices.

A successful communicator, Callahan dedicated most of her professional career to agriculture communications, serving as the first female agribusiness director for WMBD Radio and Television in Peoria. Her 30-year career at WMBD led Callahan to the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, where she served as the first female president of the organization and was the first woman to be inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Callahan earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications from the University of Illinois. She and her husband, Dick, raise cattle and grow corn and soybeans on their farm in Peoria County. They have one grown daughter, Brittney.