Stuart Valentine, MBA, explores the boundaries of philanthropy and entrepreneurship in his role as Director of the Sustainable Living Coalition (SLC), a non-profit dedicated to sustainability education, local food production and enterprise design. He is also a financial advisor with 16 years in the social, responsible and impact investment sectors. The Centerpoint mission includes “manifesting the experience of true wealth for clients by supporting the integration of their deep life purpose with their investment portfolio.” Stuart also plays an adjunct faculty role at Maharishi University of Management in the area of Socially Responsible Investing, Sustainable Community Design and Transformational Entrepreneurship.
Mary Ellen Miller is a tenth generation Iowan with a life-long interest in sustainable land use, healthy environments and strong public schools. She grew up in rural Iowa and discovered the value of sustainable land conservation practices while a 4-Her. She purchased her first farm in Washington County in 1975 and for twenty years raised and custom sold organic black angus beef cattle. She currently lives on Rose Haven Farm in Wayne County, which she donated to SILT in 2016, and is focused on developing nut and fruit orchards with the goal of helping a beginning local food farmer get established.
Miller was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa State Board of Education in 2014. She previously served two terms as a Trustee of North Iowa Area Community College.
In 2018 she was elected as Wayne County Soil and Water Commissioner . She serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Wayne County Conservation Foundation, Vice-President of the Iowa Nut Growers Association and is a member of the Iowa Farmers Union and the League of Women Voters of Iowa. Miller retired as Executive Director of 50-50 in 2020 in late 2018 and now serves as that board’s secretary. She has served on the boards of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, 1,000 Friends of Iowa, Cerro Gordo County Public Health, and Hospice of North Central Iowa.
After 30 years in public health research at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Miller worked professionally as a non-profit fund-raiser and consultant. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a minor in environmental sciences.
Mary Ellen chairs the SILT Board Development Committee.
Kathy Dice of Wapello, Iowa, is a tree farmer and business owner. Kathy and her husband Tom Wahl own Red Fern Farm, and for 25 years have specialized in perennial fruit and nut production. Kathy and Tom promote sustainable agriculture and believe that trees are an integral part of the ecosystem.
Kathy graduated from ISU with honors and has worked for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Louisa County Conservation Board.
She is a Louisa county soil commissioner and the winner of the 2015 Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award.
Kathy was elected as SILT’s first board treasurer in January, 2015, a job she valiantly filled until this year when she was elected Board Secretary.
Carolyn Van Meter is a licensed Enrolled Agent, certified Estate and Tax Paralegal, and certified Farm Transition Coordinator. For over 25 years Carolyn’s tax and accounting practice has served Trusts & Estates, individuals, small businesses, startup accounting infrastructure and farms in transition. Originally from Iowa, she currently resides in Florida. She owns and manages two farms; one farm is near her family home in Guthrie County, where she was raised, and another, with her daughter, is a small sustainable farm in North Carolina. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Nebraska, along with graduate work at the University of Iowa.
Ian is an Iowa transplant originally from the Bay Area of California. He lives in Iowa City and works as a Designer for HBK Engineering. Ian’s interest in Sustainable Agriculture began in the Produce Department at the New Pioneer Food Co-op and continued when he worked and lived at Heart 2 Heart Farms, a Livestock and Permaculture Farm specializing in upcycling and community engagement in Sherwood, Oregon. Ian has a history of community engagement in Iowa City. He is Volunteer Firefighter with the Coralville Fire Department and enjoys volunteering at organizations such as The Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Iowa, CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank and many others. Ian has a background in Renewable Energy studying at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Custer, Wisconsin, working at Moxie Solar in North Liberty, he studied Art at the University of Iowa. He loves the outdoors, travel, fly fishing, and is an aspiring amateur Beekeeper.
Smaranda “Sandy” Andrews graduated from ISU in 2010 with a PhD in Agriculture History and Rural Studies. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at ISU where she teaches World Food Issues-Past and Present. Before coming to ISU, Dr. Andrews worked as an archaeologist for 8 years in Romania, on Neolithic, Greek and Roman sites but also became interested in contemporary agriculture. To learn more on this issue, she moved for a year on the island on Mindanao, in the Philippines, where she worked with local farmers. After graduating from ISU, Dr. Andrews accepted a position as education director with a small research institute in Wisconsin, where she designed and taught courses in sustainable and organic farming, managed an internship program in organic agriculture and a small organic farm. Dr. Andrews is also a certified organic inspector with the International Organic Inspectors Association and a Lead Trainer in Food Safety with the Produce Alliance at Cornell University.
Paul Durrenberger is an award-winning anthropologist who has published widely on food production, agriculture and rural economies.
His prescient book, Pigs, Profits and Rural Communities, edited and compiled with his graduate student and collaborator Kendall Thu, is still a favorite among anti-CAFO activists.
The seeds of SILT were planted at Paul and his wife Suzan Erem’s kitchen table after they went into long-term debt to purchase farmland for a young perennial crop farmer and wished to make it a permanent gift to Iowa’s future.
Lora was born and raised in Atlanta. Though city life did not lend itself to farming, her mom made sure she was exposed to nature and later the farms of her friends. It is a love of nature that compelled Lora to explore and soak up all these experiences. Even though she lived in the big city she had access to 4H and later a horse of her own. Many hours were spent with all things horses.
Lora is a lifelong environmentalist. She has fought the Savannah River nuclear plant, waste dumping into the Chattahoochee River (which provides drinking water and recreation for millions of folks in the Greater Atlanta area) and protested the Bakken Pipeline. Those struggles led her to volunteer and canvas for elected officials who support a cleaner and healthier food system.
In 1998 Lora moved to Iowa to join her mom, Cheryl, who had moved back to her home state of Iowa. Lora has 2 daughters and now a beautiful granddaughter. Increasingly Lora found herself getting involved with the local food scene. Watching the foodie movement up close meant she had to acknowledge the downside of big ag and she educated herself about regenerative and chemical-free farming. The quest is ongoing, and she is proud of her work as a member and Board member of SILT. Lora serves as the Chair of the Fundraising and Outreach Committee.
Joe Henry is a top selling realtor for Iowa Realty based in Des Moines. He serves as the Political Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens Council #307 and is its former state director. A Des Moines native, Joe has always been actively engaged in social and economic issues in his community.
A graduate of Luther College and former high school teacher, farmer, and then college IT Director, Lyle retired in 2010 and took up small scale organic farming and raising lamb for local markets. Lyle was the fourth generation to live on his family’s heritage farm in NE Iowa, where he and his wife Susan lived for 39 years. Their daughter Stephanie also grew up on the farm.
While looking at future options for protecting the family heritage, the Luzums realized that a diversified, organic farm with a long history of soil conservation (starting in 1937) would always be at risk from industrial agriculture and the lure of money. Thus, in 2017 they, with the enthusiastic support of their daughter, donated their family farm to SILT to protect it for future sustainable food production in a way that is not possible if left only to family members. Lyle has served on the South Winneshiek Community School Board, the Calmar Lutheran Church Council, Oneota Community Food Co-op Board, the Winneshiek County Soil & Water Conservation Commission, and the Winneshiek Energy District Board prior to joining the SILT Board.
Lyle chairs the SILT Policy and Accreditation Committee.
Gina McAndrews grew up an active member of her family’s diversified farm in eastern Iowa, acquiring an interest in ecology and food production systems. After Animal Science degree at Iowa State University, she worked in environmental and agriculture policy for the U.S. Senate in Washington DC, worked in various aspects of agriculture in several other countries and then returned to ISU for a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and to teach courses in Ecology and Agronomy. She is currently a Realtor with Century 21 Signature Real Estate in Ames, and she serves as the vice president of Wheatsfield Cooperative and on the boards of Worldly Goods and the Central Iowa Board of Realtors.
Gina serves on the SILT Land Acquisition Committee.
John Norris is a Partner and Co-Owner of the State Public Policy Group + Essman Research (SPPG) based in Des Moines, Iowa. SPPG, founded in 1984, works with clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors providing issue management, research, advocacy, stakeholder outreach and facilitation, strategic planning and project management services.
Norris has over three decades of political, policy and administrative experience at the highest levels of state and federal government including extensive experience on energy and agricultural issues. Prior to joining SPPG Norris served as the Minister-Counselor for Agriculture for the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Italy. He was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009 and again in 2012 to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In 1999, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack asked Norris to Chair the Governor’s Working Group on Electric Restructuring. The legislation resulting from his work made Iowa a national leader in wind generation. Vilsack subsequently appointed Norris as Chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).
In addition to his extensive policy and issue development work, Norris has served as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chief of Staff for Governor Tom Vilsack and Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Leonard Boswell.
As the State Director of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, Norris mobilized a statewide grassroots lobbying effort to pass legislation to help family farmers facing foreclosure during the Farm Crisis of the 1980’s.
Over this time period, Norris also managed to own a restaurant in rural Iowa, coordinate the 1993 Farm Aid Concert, graduate with distinction from the University of Iowa, College of Law in 1995, and work as an adjunct professor of American Government and Constitutional Law at Simpson College where he received his undergraduate degree in political science in 1981.
Norris lives in Des Moines with his wife Jackie, their three sons: Hunter, Cole & Sam; and dog, Boss.
George Oamek and his wife Sharon operate Honey Creek Creamery, a goat dairy and artisan cheese-making operation, at their Century Farm in Honey Creek. In addition, George is an engineering consultant focusing upon water resources and also operates a cow-calf operation. He earned a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University, leading to a wonderful professional career but yielding few insights about the economics of local food systems and value-added food production. He has dedicated the last 10 years to learning the local food business and enjoying the great company of the people involved in it.
Cindy Reed, RN, PhD has worked in healthcare for over 35 years in a variety of clinical and administrative positions. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, a non-profit University of Iowa based organization that recovers donated eye tissue and prepares it for transplant. Through personal experience, Cindy has become increasingly aware of the impact of healthy food versus the average American diet, and is alarmed that 90% of the food available for her family comes from someplace outside of Iowa.
Cindy and her husband Steve have 5 grown children and one grandchild on the way. They live in Solon with their dog Max and Cat Bastet, and are in the process of converting their two acres of turf grass into an edible forest.
Corbin grew up in Iowa City and attended the University of Iowa where she graduated on the pre-medical track with a Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology and a minor in Spanish. A few months before graduation, Corbin was in a coffee shop, trying to get the motivation to study for her Human Pathophysiology exam, when she came across an article online about bees and other pollinators. How they are going extinct due to herbicides, pesticides, and human industrialization. Why does that matter? So, the search went on. Corbin learned bees are vital for the growth of most of our plants, including trees! This led to GMOs, soil health, regenerative agriculture, and then to organic farming. This sparked an interest that has never been touched before.
Corbin found an Organic Farm School in Washington state. She attended the 8 month long intensive program in 2018.
In January 2019, Corbin moved back to Iowa City where she settled down and started her own organic farm, Rainbow Roots Farm, to give back to the community that has given her so much growing up.
Corbin is also the head varsity soccer coach at City High School in Iowa City.