One seat is open on the Park District of Forest Park’s board for the April 6 election, as Eric Entler’s term expires and he will not seek reelection. A single candidate, Kristen Marie Lyons, is running for the open spot. Below are a bio and answers to a questionnaire Lyons provided to the Review.
Candidate name: Kristen Marie Lyons
Kristen Marie Lyons (formerly Kozlowski) received her law degree from the John Marshall Law School and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 2004. She received her undergraduate degree in history from St. Mary University of Minnesota in only 3½ years of study while playing two varsity sports, basketball and rugby.
Her legal experience is in litigation for both plaintiff and defense and includes work for the Chicago Police Department, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and personal injury firms in downtown Chicago. Kristen has extensive jury trial experience and has been a frequent participant with the Cook County mandatory arbitration system serving as both an arbitrator and litigant with well over 250 appearances.
In 2012, Kristen opened her own solo practice, The Law Office of Kristen M. Kozlowski, which concentrates in workers compensation, personal injury, family law and general litigation.
She grew up in Chicago. In March 2017 she married John Lyons and is the proud step-mom to Will (14) and Emily (11). She volunteers in the local PTO and other activities for the kids.
Kristen is an active volunteer for the park district annual softball tournament, and is a member of the Neighborhood Watch, the Forest Park Kiwanis Club, the Forest Park Historical Society, and the 209 Together Scholarship Committee. She also serves as a commissioner of the Forest Park Zoning Board.
When Kristen is not working or volunteering, she enjoys gardening, baking and is learning how to quilt and sew.
Why are you running for a seat on the board of the Park District of Forest Park?
The Park District of Forest Park is an unbelievably valuable resource to the village of Forest Park. Being a frequent participant in park district programs, events and facilities, to take on a more active role as a commissioner and run for a seat on the board was a logical progression, and I am excited to be part of the decision-making process for the park in the future.
Describe what your background (experiences, education, other qualifications) will bring to this position?
A proud resident and homeowner in Forest Park for the past five years, I have volunteered for the park district at their annual softball tournament and for other local Forest Park events and organizations. An attorney for the past 17 years and owner of my own law firm that represents the interests of injured workers and small businesses, my legal education and background will be an asset for the board of the Park District of Forest Park.
How can the park district continue to forge a strong relationship with other local governmental entities, such as the school district, the village of Forest Park, and the library?
The park district is a key component in our village and having the facilities available and organizations of cross-events with our schools, the village, library and other groups (like the Community Center, Historical Society, Kiwanis Club, Forest Park Against Racism, Arts Alliance etc.) in Forest Park is key. The park needs to reach out to these entities and be aware of what they are doing so the park district can be a part of their activities and promote. In November 2020 I was the liaison between the Historical Society of Forest Park and the park district to have a veterans display on the Harrison Street soccer field fence. This was very well received by the community and hope it will be an annual installation in future years.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the Park District of Forest Park right now? How can the board best handle these challenges?
Right now, having a safe and healthy environment to continue programs in the age of COVID-19 is the biggest challenge facing our park. Following the CDC recommendations and looking to how other neighboring communities are opening and practicing safety precautions should always be considered when the park decides what facilities to open to the public and how.
As a resident, what are some of the offerings of the park district that you and your family like the best?
The overall park campus on Harrison Street is wonderful but the pool, summer camp program and overnight camp-out are the favorite of my family. In the summer, my family uses the park facilities on an almost daily basis and would like to find new ways to extend the use of the facilities in the colder winter months. We have participated in the trunk-n-treat, daddy/daughter dance, tennis lessons, swim lessons, sewing lessons, girls basketball, concerts by the Roos and many other events.
What are some of the park district’s specific goals and projects right now that you are most excited about and why?
The newly acquired “pocket parks” from the village of Forest Park and what the park district will do to improve and advertise these parks to the residents is a project I am excited to be part of if elected to the board. These parks can become satellite examples of the facilities and offerings of the greater park district.