Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Board of Directors


Pete Ferrell

Chairperson of the Board; Owner/Operator Ferrell Ranch  |  Beaumont, Kansas

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Pete owns and operates the Ferrell Ranch, which was established by his great-grandfather in 1888. Starting as a ranch hand, he became general manager of the family operation in 1980. Using his ranching background, Pete worked for 10 years as a facilitator for the Executive Link program offered by Ranch Management Consultants. He was the lead landholder securing the development of the Elk River Wind Farm built on the Ferrell Ranch and neighboring ranches in 2005. In addition to managing his ranch, Pete currently works as a project consultant for Energy for Generations, a wind power development company, and is president of the Beaumont Community Association.

Ken Levy-Church

Vice Chairperson of the Board  |  New York, New York

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After receiving his bachelor’s in philosophy from Dartmouth, Ken grounded himself in New Mexico building passive solar adobe homes. He returned to graduate education at the University of Michigan, where he received an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies and then a Ph.D. in Central Eurasian History. His dissertation examined the evolution of an agrarian revolutionary tradition in western Georgia. Over the course of his graduate studies he studied Russian, Turkish, Persian, and Georgian and spent extended periods in Russia, Turkey, and Georgia. While teaching Central Eurasian History at St. Lawrence University, he developed numerous courses pertaining to the region, including the History of the Russian and Ottoman Empires, as well as a class on 9/11 entitled “Why Do ‘They’ Hate ‘Us’?” He then left academia to pursue philanthropic work as a board member of the JEHT Foundation, which focused primarily on criminal justice in the U.S. and became the largest criminal justice foundation in the U.S. at the time. He also founded the Fair Food Foundation (now Fair Food Network) whose mission is the development of healthy food systems in inner city America. At present he is focused on the science and business of climate change, as well as promoting the work of The Land Institute.

Fred Iutzi

President of The Land Institute  |  Salina, Kansas

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Fred Iutzi was named as president of The Land Institute, effective October 1, 2016. He grew up on an Illinois farm and describes the fighting of soil erosion as a deep-rooted moral value instilled by his parents and grandparents. Since then, Fred has focused his career on the sustainability of agriculture and rural communities. Prior to his move to Kansas, he managed agriculture, energy, and cooperative development programs for the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. His ties to The Land Institute are deep. Fred joined the institute’s Graduate Fellows Program in 2002, where he studied the possibility of growing small grains in mixtures with forage legumes. He subsequently attended seven Fellows workshops. Iutzi earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and a master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Agronomy at Iowa State University. He has served in leadership roles in numerous environmental and agriculture organizations, including vice chair of the board of the Agricultural Watershed Institute and founding chair of the Illinois Biomass Working Group.

Jan Flora

Secretary of The Land Institute  |  Ames, Iowa

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Jan Flora, Ph.D., is professor emeritus at Iowa State University (ISU) and research professor of sociology at Kansas State University. At ISU, he taught in the graduate program in sustainable agriculture. His research examines relationships between community capitals and economic, community, and sustainable development. He has researched community effects of global warming and the contributions of Latinos to Midwestern rural communities. He is a volunteer community leader in AMOS, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy. Earlier in his career, he was program officer for Ford Foundation for agriculture and rural development in South America. He grew up on a farm near Quinter, Kansas.

Board Members

Brian Donahue

Associate Professor, Brandeis University  |  Weston, Massachusetts

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Brian is an associate professor of american environmental studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Fund at Brandeis University, and environmental historian at Harvard Forest. He teaches courses on environmental issues, environmental history, and sustainable farming and forestry. Brian holds a BA, MA, and Ph.D. from the Brandeis program in the History of American Civilization. He co-founded and for 12 years directed Land’s Sake, a nonprofit community farm in Weston, Massachusetts, and serves today on the Weston Conservation Commission and the Community Preservation Committee. He sits on several other boards including the Thoreau Farm Trust, Battle Road Farms, and The Land Institute. For three years he was Director of Education at The Land Institute. Brian is author of Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town (Yale University Press, 1999), which was awarded the book prize from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. He also wrote The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord (Yale Press, 2004), which won book prizes from the New England Historical Association, the Agricultural History Society, and the American Society for Environmental History. His latest publication is American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land (Yale Press, 2011), an anthology co-edited with Edwin Hagenstein and Sara Gregg. He is also a former education director for The Land Institute.

Sam Evans

Senior Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship McCormick Theological Seminary  |  Chicago, Illinois

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Sam is currently the senior director of Donor Relations and Stewardship at McCormick Theological Seminary. Sam was born and raised in Kansas. He was a partner and CEO of Evans Grain Company in Salina, Kansas from 1966 -1991. Although Sam and his wife, Terry Evans, live in Chicago, his heart is in Kansas. He’s been elected and appointed to numerous board committees including the Farmers and Merchants Bank Board of Directors, on which he served for 19 years. Sam is currently serving on the Board for Alloy Engineering Company. He was also a member of the Y-USA executive team with oversight of 150 employees and a $22M budget and was the overseer of the Jerusalem YMCA, partnering with YMCAs in 120 countries.

Ruth Anne French-Hodson

Associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.  |  Kansas City, MO

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Ruth Anne focuses her practice on complex bet-the-company litigation, class actions and appeals. She has worked on both individual and multidistrict matters in courts across the country for a broad range of industries including pharmaceuticals, energy infrastructure and extraction, and product manufacturers. Notably, she led an appellate team that secured a significant Missouri state appellate court victory ensuring that custodians of children who are entitled to counsel can access that help and that hearings in family court are full and fair for all participants. She also represents inmates presenting habeas petitions and in other pro bono appeals. At Yale Law School, Ruth Anne was active in Yale Law Women, serving on the board as Community & Outreach chair and co-chairing a nationally publicized report on gender and legal education, Yale Law School Students and Faculty Speak Up about Gender: Ten Years Later. Through her clinic, she spent two years assisting the New Haven Corporation Counsel with affirmative projects related to housing conditions, accessible taxis and immigration detainers. Before attending law school, Ruth was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, to the University of Oxford, where she received a MPhil degree in Comparative Government and a DPhil in Politics.

Nancy Jackson

Co-founder of Generous Change  |  Eudora, Kansas

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Nancy Jackson recently co-founded Generous Change, a fundraising consultancy. She is former assistant vice president/strategic development at University of Kansas Endowment, Lawrence. She was the first executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, a nonprofit organization formed in 2007 by The Land Institute to raise awareness of and deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the Midwest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities and a master’s degree in environmental history, both from the University of Kansas.

Julia Olmstead

Mississippi River Program Officer at the The McKnight Foundation  |  Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Prior to joining the McKnight Foundation, Julia served as coordinator for the Farmer-Led Watershed Council Project for University of Wisconsin-Extension, where she designed, launched, and managed a multi-stakeholder agriculture water quality collaborative. The project bridged public agencies (county, state, and federal), farmers, businesses, and nonprofits, and became a regional model for voluntary, watershed-based agriculture conservation. Previously, she spent four years as senior associate for the rural communities program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. She also has worked as a news writer for NBC Bay Area News in San Jose, CA, and has published essays, journal articles, and opinion pieces in publications including Crop Science, Smithsonian magazine, and the Los Angeles Times.

Lennart Olsson

Professor of Geography at Lund University  |  Lund, Sweden

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Lennart Olsson, professor of Geography at Lund University, was the founding Director of LUCSUS 2000-17. His current research focuses on the politics of climate change in the context of poverty, food insecurity, and ill-health in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. He was Coordinating Lead Author for the chapter on Livelihoods and Poverty in IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report 2011-14 and for the chapter on Land Degradation in the special IPCC report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), 2017-19.

Ricardo Salvador

Director and Senior Scientist for the Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists  |  Washington, D.C.

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In his role at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices. Before UCS, he served as a program officer for food, health, and well-being with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where he was responsible for conceptualizing and managing the Foundation’s food systems programming. Prior to that, he was an associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University where he taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university, and his graduate students conducted some of the original academic research on community-supported agriculture. He worked with students to establish ISU’s student-operated organic farm, and with other faculty to develop the nation’s first sustainable agriculture graduate program in 2000; Ricardo served as the program’s first chair. He has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in The Boston GlobeThe New York Times, Politico and many other outlets. He was named a 2013 NBC Latino Innovator and received the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2014. He earned a B.S. in agricultural science from New Mexico State University and holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

Emeritus Board Members

Pat McLarney

Kansas City, Missouri

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Pat supervised litigation and tried cases for over 40 years, and was managing partner of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City from 1985 to 2002. During that time, the firm grew from 65 to more than 500 lawyers in nine offices, two of them overseas. Pat’s civic engagement includes Legal Aid, Civic Council of Kansas City, and the boards of three colleges. His professional awards are numerous and significant. He was named Citizen of the Year by the mayor of Kansas City in 2002 and served as chair of the University of Missouri-KC Board of Trustees.

Conn Nugent

Washington, D.C.

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Formerly Executive Director, Citizens Union of the City of New York; Managing Partner of Liberty Tree Alliance; Director of the Environmental Programs, Nathan Cummings Foundation; and Executive Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Donald E. Worster

Lawrence, Kansas

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Don Worster, Ph.D., Hall Distinguished Professor of American History Department of History and University of Kansas Member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year for A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, and also the Bancroft Prize for Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s, and authored Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological IdeasRivers of Empire, Under Western SkiesThe Wealth of Nature and A River Running West.

Angus Wright

Sacramento, California

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Angus Wright, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of environmental studies at California State University, Sacramento. He is author of To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil (2003) and The Death of Ramon Gonzalez; The Modern Agricultural Dilemma (1990). He has served as chair of Environmental Studies CSUS, president of the board of Food First! and Pesticide Action Network, and is a member of independent citizen review panel of Inter-American Development Bank.

John M. Simpson

Founding Member of the Board of Directors  |  Kansas City, Missouri

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John, a Kansas City attorney, was one of the founders of The Land Institute. He is a former Kansas state senator and candidate for U.S. Senate.

Terry Evans

Chicago, Illinois

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Terry has held one-person shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, The National Museum of Natural History, and The Field Museum, among others. She is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. Her photographs are part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Art Institute, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many others. Her recent retrospective exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City includes the catalog book, Heartland. Her other books include Prairie Stories, Revealing Chicago: An Aerial Portrait and Disarming the Prairie. Recent exhibitions include, Fractured:North Dakota’s Oil Boom at The Field Museum and Meet Me at the Trinity at the Amon-Carter Museum of Art. She has also held the position of Land Institute Arts Associate.

Victoria Ranney

Grayslake, Illinois

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Victoria is president of Prairie Holdings Corporation, the developer of the Prairie Crossing conservation community. She is also associate editor of the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers.

Lloyd G. Schermer

Aspen, Colorado

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Lloyd is the former CEO of Lee Enterprises, Davenport, Iowa. He is a former publisher of the Kewanee Star Courier, Kewanee, Illinois, and the Missoulian, Missoula, Montanta. The Kewanee Star Courier was responsible for passage (1958) of the first strip mining legislation in Illinois. The Missoulian was responsible for the passage of the first air and water pollution legislation (1969) in Montana. As a result, the sterile Clark Fork River of the Columbia River became a blue ribbon trout stream. The Missoulian was responsible for establishing the Great Bear Wilderness (300,000 acres) and the Scapegoat Wilderness (120,000) being added to the existing 1 million acre Bob Marshal Wilderness. In a second career, his antique wood type sculptures have been added to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and four other museums. Boards include honorary or life memberships in the Smithsonian National Board, the Aspen Institute, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, and the World Wildlife Fund.

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