Our Board of Directors Welcomes Cynthia Kanner

On a beautiful, autumn day in the year 2000, I took a walk through the woods along a footpath not far from a home that my husband and I were considering in Algonquin. We were moving from Flagstaff, Arizona where we had lived for just two years. (Prior to that I was living in Washington, D.C. and working for a multi-cultural nonprofit. I had also picked up white water kayaking, learning all the moves on the Potomac River – bow rescue in the rapids on my first day of kayaking! What was I thinking?!)  As I walked, the path led to a bridge and to my delight up and over a river…The Fox! Between the river and the eleven old bur oak trees on the property, we were sold…and so was the home. Here I sit, 24 years later still loving the river and still kayaking, although now I prefer to stand (or lay down) on a paddle board as I float downstream.

Cynthia paddle boarding on the Fox River

My activities on the Fox and for the Fox actually began as a volunteer when I helped start It’s Our River Day in Algonquin, something that I organized for a dozen years. As someone who loves being on a river, that special water body that makes us feel like we’re passing through time and space, I started leading groups down the river and now proudly call myself a volunteer river guide (if only I were really that cool!) 

My connection with Friends of the Fox River started way back when It’s Our Fox River Day came about and in 2014 I became a Stream Monitoring Educator with the organization while also working part-time for the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. After some time, hours increased with the latter and I could no longer handle both jobs (and raising two boys.)  But, I will never forget my unique experience working with young people and watching the wonder as we inspected the streams for macroinvertebrates and the truths they told us about the water’s health. As a nature lover, but not a biologist at all, I was as happy to help young people as I was to learn myself.

Fast forward, in January 2023 I was hired as the first Executive Director of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition. So, jobs changed, and I went from working in a single county to state wide. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love for The Fox, because in life, it’s important to have constants; the Fox is a place you can count on to be there when you need and want to escape for a day with a friend or a group, or to be alone along the banks. I’m excited to continue this next chapter as a volunteer board member of Friends of the Fox River and will do my best as the organization looks to the future to secure its lasting impact not only on the water’s health, but the health of the species that call it home and that of the nature and outdoor lovers who adore it.

Cynthia has worked as an executive director with three different boards throughout her non-profit career, and this is her second time as a volunteer board member. Prior to this she served on the Board of the Food Shed Co-op – a local, community grocery store opening its doors to the public on May 15. She grew up in the beautiful state of New Jersey and is a graduate of Duke University. She’s married to physicist, Gary Kanner, and has two 20-something year olds, Dylan and Benjamin, and a daughter dog, Rizzo, who she hopes to take paddle boarding with her one day.