Bill Kenney – President, Treasurer


Bill founded the Northern Illinois Historic League in February 2015. Bill holds a BS in Finance and a Masters in Business Administration from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Bill has served in a number of capacities involved with Crystal Lake nonprofits dating back over 25 years. Some of these include Little League baseball, the CABA Baseball World Series, Crystal Lake Historical Society founding director (along with wife Diana), and office support for the Salvation Army McHenry County Red Kettle seasonal campaign. Bill had worked for many years with Zurich-American Insurance in Schaumburg in Finance and Information Technology. Bill has substantial background in building and perfecting networks, evidenced by what we see today as the Northern Illinois Historic League.


Sheila Ryan – Vice President


Sheila Ryan is an experienced archivist and public historian affiliated with the Apple River Fort State Historic Site. Throughout her career, she has worked to share her love of history with a wide audience, striving to ignite sparks in the public imagination and to promote historical awareness while maintaining high standards of accuracy and integrity. Sheila has worked for major historical societies, university and public libraries, and museums, along with corporate and organizational archives. Sheila has curated major exhibitions on the histories of the Chicago Public Library and Chicago's Goodman Theatre; elsewhere in the state she has written and directed grant-funded regional history projects.


Roxanne Cheney – Secretary


Roxanne L Cheney MSN retired from the VA Health Care System after 35 years as an RN. She served in all levels of the hierarchy from Head Nurse, to Acting Facility Director. She enjoyed working in Quality Improvement the most. During this time, she also served on several boards:    St Mary’s University in Oakland, CA, Community College in San Leandro, CA, Homeless Family Consortium in Reno, NV, and the United Way in Lexington KY. After her retirement she worked briefly as a free-lance health care writer, founded the Friends of Roper Lake State Park, and also founded the Ray Bradbury Waukegan Carnegie Library Board, on which she served as Secretary and Vice President for almost a year. Currently, she is the Secretary on the Northern Illinois Historic League Board.  

Peggie Stromberg – Director


Peggie has been executive director of the Elgin Public Museum for 18 years.  During her time at the Museum, it has changed format to bring in new exhibits at least 3 times per year.  She has been doing independent exhibitions and those developed from Northern Illinois University, the Field Museum and a relationship with the National Museum of Mexican Art. During her time there she has served on national, regional and state committees and boards.  Prior to working for the museum she was a newspaper editor.  She also served nearly 25 years on the Marengo, Il. library board, serving as president most of that time.  She was also president of the Northern Illinois Library System. Peggie also serves as the chairperson of the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Brian “Fox” Ellis – Director

Brian “Fox” Ellis is an internationally acclaimed author, storyteller, historian, and museum consultant. He has worked with dozens of other museums across the country. Brian has also been a featured speaker at many regional and international conferences. He is also the Artistic Director for Prairie Folklore Theatre, a unique theatre company that celebrates ecology and history through original musical theatre productions. Brian is the author of 16 books. In the past few years he has been growing a small company designed to help small town museums build their internet presence, designing web sites, teaching social media marketing and creating on-line, interactive museum tours.

Tina Beaird – Director

Tina Beaird is the Genealogy/Local History Librarian at the Plainfield public library and owner of Tamarack Genealogy. She holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science with a specialization in Archives/Preservation from Dominican University in River Forest, IL. Over the years she has been awarded several digitization grants to scan and preserve historic records. Tina is a governing board member of the Oswego Heritage Association and volunteers for other groups extensively. Tina lectures on topics including genealogical research, archival preservation, and Illinois history at national, state and local conferences. She has provided professional research assistance for more than a decade and has been researching her family’s history, as time permits, for over twenty years.