O’Brien is the founder of the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN) and has been farming in southwest Iowa for approximately 40 years. She grows three acres of fruits and vegetables, six acres of apples, and raises organic chicken and turkey. In addition, she was the president of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), worked with the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, and directed the Rural Women’s Leadership Development Project. In 2011, she was appointed by the Obama administration to become a U.S. Department of Agriculture advisor in Afghanistan. O’Brien advocates and promotes topics involving domestic and international women’s and agricultural policies, organic farming and its practical approaches, women’s relationship to farmland, sustainable living, and food security. She currently serves on the board of Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT).

Read about the FoodTank’s 27 influential women in food and ag here: