Steven K. Messerli was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in 2017 by the Chairman of the Kane County Board.
Currently working as a consultant, Messerli has more than 40 years of experience in management and administration of public parks and public infrastructure—using financial and environmentally sustainable measures—for communities across the U.S., with nearly half of that time in northeast Illinois.
From 2005 through 2010, Messerli was the Executive Director/CEO of the Fox Valley Park District, overseeing a 2,500-acre park and recreation district that spans portions of four Illinois counties (Kane, DuPage, Will and Kendall) and serves approximately 230,000 area residents. He also served as the Executive Director of the Lake County Forest Preserve District from 1991 through 2004.
During his time at Fox Valley Park District, Messerli spearheaded the largest capital referendum in Illinois park district history since the tax cap—a $44.8 million open space, park and recreation investment plan approved by voters in 2008. His tenure at the agency also was marked by successful expansion/annexation efforts coupled with measures that reduced costs and increased nontax revenues.
His time at the Lake County Forest Preserve District was similarly distinguished by four voter referenda victories for land acquisition, capital improvements and maintenance. Successful advocacy efforts in Springfield and Washington resulted in $40 million in legislative actions that directly benefited the forest preserve district. He also oversaw the efforts to gain public consensus for a master plan for the redevelopment of park lands after the decommissioning of Fort Sheridan, as well as the planning, design, development and operation of Lake County’s Independence Grove Forest Preserve.
Messerli began his career in public parks and infrastructure management in Fairfax County, Va., then held progressively senior management positions in Ann Arbor, Mich., and San Bernardino County, Calif., before moving to Illinois.
Messerli, a resident of Aurora, was recognized multiple times throughout his career for excellence in leadership by his peers and served as President of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. He also was honored as a distinguished alumnus by the College of Business and Public Administration at the California State University, San Bernardino.
Messerli earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University and a Master’s of Public Administration from California State University, San Bernardino. He also completed certificate programs in revenue sources management and park and recreation maintenance management at North Carolina State University as well as an executive development program in park and recreation administration at Indiana University.