2014 IAFSM Awards

At the 2014 Annual Conference in Rosemont, the following awards were presented:


Mary Lou Kalsted

Bob Mack

Two floodplain manager awards were presented at the Rosemont conference:

Mary Lou Kalsted was recognized for 32 years of service to the Village of Lisle, where she helped the Village obtain a Class 5 CRS rating and performed stormwater management engineering. Last year, Lisle had record flooding. Mary Lou completed over 200 damage assessments and started a large mitigation project. Mary Lou has also served as an active chairperson of the CRS committee and has been a strong advocate of CRS across the state.

Bob Mack was recognized for 30 years of service to the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, where he was the “go-to” person on Cook County flooding issues. As noted during the awards presentation, Bob was always able to negotiate “the minefield of Cook County bureaucracy” and find a way to get things done. Bob managed over 1,500 miles of roadway, drainage, and utilities. Bob was also an instrumental member of the steering committee for the Cook County Hazard Mitigation Plan. 

Congratulations to Mary Lou and Bob, our Floodplain Managers of the Year.


Matt Wahl

Matt Wahl was recognized for his outstanding service to Peoria County, where he has worked since 1987, including working through 37 major flood events. Matt has spent 27 years confronting and solving floodplain issues, including purchasing over 120 flood prone properties and elevating 30 more. In 1996 Peoria County won the National Association of Counties award for flood mitigation. In 1997, Matt was named ASFPM National Floodplain Manager of the Year. Peoria County was one of the state’s first CRS communities, now a CRS class 5. Since its start, Matt has chaired the IAFSM Certified Floodplain Manager committee and he currently serves on the national committee. Matt is chairman of the American Planning Association Stormwater Committee and in 2009 he won the American Planning Association Award. Congratulations to Matt for his outstanding service.


Darren Olson

Darren Olsen was recognized with the 2014 Stormwater Management award. In northern Illinois one name often pops up when discussing stormwater projects. Darren Olsen’s name is associated with a disproportionately high number of these projects; dozens of projects have been designed by Darren. In addition, Darren serves on the Lt. Governor’s Science Advisory Committee where he represents floodplain and stormwater management issues across the state. Congratulations, Darren!


Molly O'Toole

Molly O’Toole has been a consistent champion of mitigation over many years. She started in 1984 as the mitigation program director for the Office of Water Resources, and was doing mitigation five years before FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program kicked off. After the Great Flood of 1993, Molly was chair of the state interagency task force for mitigation, and she developed the mitigation strategy which changed the course of mitigation in Illinois. Many of our programs today were developed with Molly’s input. Molly has been involved in dozens of mitigation plans and hundreds of mitigation projects. Congratulations, Molly!


Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)

Last year, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) did a major research project looking at urban flooding in Cook County. This study looked at both overland flooding and also basement flooding which is largely ignored. CNT met with local leaders, state representatives, citizens, state and federal agencies, and encouraged action. With fresh ideas and outside-the-box thoughts, they confront problems that most of us would hide from. CNT has sponsored legislation to further study urban flooding. CNT hosted a series of Gross Gatherings across the area where residents could come in and vent their frustrations and meet with experts to help them solve problems. Hal Sprague and Harriet Fessling accepted the award for CNT.

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