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Meet the Director

Natalie Phelps Finnie

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Natalie Phelps Finnie was appointed director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Jan. 23, 2023. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

A southern Illinois native, she has served as deputy director of IDNR since August 2021, overseeing legislative affairs; land management, which includes state parks and historic sites; mines and minerals; and oil and gas. She also served as the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act coordinator for the department, coordinating with the governor’s office and the U.S. Department of Interior to manage one of the largest capital investments in Illinois history.

Phelps Finnie served as a state representative for Illinois’ 118th Legislative District from September 2017 to January 2019. She has the distinction of being the first woman to hold that position, as well as being the first nurse to serve in the history of the General Assembly. She comes from a family of public servants. Her father served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1985 to 1998 and in Congress from 1999 to 2002.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Southern Indiana and a master’s degree in nursing-family nurse practitioner from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. As a health care provider, she is uniquely positioned to lead IDNR with her ability to rely on empathy and dissecting questions to get at the heart of problems while bringing people together. Likewise, her science background includes extensive education in biological sciences that will provide useful in policy decisions concerning the environment and conservation.

Phelps Finnie and her husband, Kyle, have three children – Lilly, Addy and Clay. They are active members of Star General Baptist Church in Eldorado. As a member of a family with a strong singing tradition, she is involved with the music ministry at church and sings in a gospel trio with her two sisters, known as The Phelps Sisters.

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