Debra helped to launch Chicago WILDERNESS Magazine in 1997, a quarterly publication devoted to the rare nature of the Chicago region. In 1998, she helped to found Friends of the Forest Preserves and also served on Cook County Board President John Stroger’s Community Advisory Council on Land Management.
After working on a number of political campaigns, Debra ran for a position on the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) in 2006. She came in first in a field of nine candidates in the Democratic primary and began her first term in December 2006. She was re–elected for a second term in 2012. Debra lives with her partner, Kathleen Gillespie, in Skokie, and has a 34 year–old son, Ben.