Board of Directors

Homer Buell

Homer Buell Chairman

Homer Buell and his wife Darla are the fourth generation of Buells to own Shovel Dot Ranch near Rose, Nebraska. The ranch received the Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award in 2012 for the Buell's efforts to improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat on their working land. Buell is the former president of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, Nebraska Hereford Association and Nebraska 4-H Foundation. He serves on the board of the Sandhills Task Force and has served in many positions within the National Cattlemen's Beef Association during 14 years of board service. He also chaired the Campaign for Nebraska Committee and Rock County Community Fund. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in business administration and serves on the University of Nebraska President's Advisory Council. 


David J. Hanson Vice-Chairman

Dave Hanson was a senior partner in the Madison office of Michael Best & Friedrich and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Before joining the firm, Hanson served as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin; Assistant Chancellor, Legal Counsel for the University of Wisconsin; and Deputy Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. He earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin and was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 1968. Hanson is named in The Best Lawyers in America.


Nancy DeLong Secretary

Nancy DeLong is an Iowa-based agricultural sustainability consultant. She served as interim executive director of the Conservation Technology Information Center following a career with DuPont Pioneer as Global Director of Sustainable Agriculture Systems. She directed the company’s efforts in conservation-based agriculture to help farmers and ranchers protect their freedom to operate and improve their livelihoods while being the best stewards of natural resources. DeLong and her husband Marc have restored a native eco-type savannah on their property in Iowa.


Thomas D. Zale Treasurer

Thomas D. Zale serves as Vice President-Real Estate with Northwestern Mutual in its home office in Milwaukee. He is responsible for the company's investments in mortgage loans and real estate. Zale joined Northwestern Mutual in 1995, after earning a Master of Science in real estate and finance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of the company’s Investment Committee and its Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Zale serves on the boards of the United Community Center and Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation. Prior to joining the Sand County Foundation Board of Directors, he served on its Investment Committee since 2009.


Jimmy Bramblett

Jimmy Bramblett is co-owner of Rolling Timbers Farm near Richland, Georgia. At the local and state level he serves as a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Georgia Association of Conservation Districts Vice President, and member of Georgia's State Technical Committee for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) where he influences priorities for state and federal technical and financial conservation investments to private landowners. Jimmy served in the NRCS for more than 33 years in roles as the agency's Deputy Chief for Programs, Deputy Chief for Science and Technology, and State Conservationist of Wisconsin. He also spent 10 years as a faculty research scientist with the University of Georgia's College of Agriculture and Environmental Science. 


Blair Calvert Fitzsimons

Blair Calvert Fitzsimons is the founding CEO of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust where she served from 2006-2020. Prior to that she served as a consultant to American Farmland Trust. In 2005, she spearheaded the effort to create the Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program, a state program that funds the purchases of conservation easements. An avid hunter and outdoorswoman, Blair’s family received the Texas Leopold Conservation Award in 2021. She joined the Sand County Foundation Board in 2022.


Dick Cates, Ph.D.

Dick Cates is co-owner of Cates Family Farm, a grass-fed beef and contract grazing business near Spring Green, Wisconsin. He and wife, Kim, received the 2013 Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award for their leadership in agricultural conservation. They demonstrate conservation practices as members of the Iowa County Uplands Watershed Project and the Lowery Creek Watershed Initiative. Cates is the former director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his Ph.D. in soils/plant health as an Aldo Leopold Fellow. Cates has authored Voices from the Heart of the Land: Rural Stories that Inspire Community and a children’s book, An Adventure on Sterna’s Hill. He is involved with farmer-to-farmer assistance projects in developing nations, and is the elected Chair for his local town, and board representative for the fire district.


John Duncan

John Duncan is a partner in Kozusko Harris Duncan, representing family offices, private and multi-family private trust companies and wealth advisors. He is a graduate of Yale College and The University of Chicago Law School. Duncan and his wife, Anita Sarafa, share a ranch with 11 other families on Las Palomas Creek that both the Audubon Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife have cited as the best wildlife preserve in southern New Mexico. Duncan is a Trustee of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and a Garden Heritage Society Ambassador of the Chicago Botanic Garden. He has served as a board member of Chicago's Lincoln Park Conservation Association and International Visitor Center which hosts incoming Fulbright Scholars.


Tom Foley

Tom Foley is the Founding Partner of NTC Group, a private equity firm specializing in acquiring and operating businesses in the aviation service and aerospace and defense sectors. Tom served twice in government, first as the head of Private Sector of Development in Iraq from 2003-04 and second as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland to 2006-09. He was the Republican nominee for Governor of Connecticut in 2010 and 2014. He is the Chairman of Tenax Aerospace and serves on the boards of the Entwistle Company and Stevens Aerospace and Defense. Tom is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He and his wife Leslie live in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Brent Haglund Ph.D.

Brent Haglund chairs Sand County Foundation's Science Advisory Committee after providing 32 years of staff leadership. His decades of experience in private lands conservation are built upon a land ethic and use of science. Recognitions for public service, ecological science among youth and landowners, and leadership in private conservation include election to the Hall of Fame Swenson College of Science & Engineering University of Minnesota Duluth and selection as a Boy Scouts of America “BSA Distinguished Conservationist.” He is the author of “Wild Wisconsin” - Northword Press (1991), and co-author, with Tom Still, of “Hands on Environmentalism” - Encounter Books (2005).


Kevin McAleese

Kevin became Sand County Foundation's President and CEO in 2015. In his more than 25 years with the Foundation, he has overseen all aspects of planning, program implementation, and personnel and financial management. Kevin founded the Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative in 2007, an award-winning 11-western state public-private partnership to balance energy production, ranching, and habitat protection. He served as President of its Board of Directors until 2013. He led a 10-year program in the Great Lakes states and northeastern U.S. to enhance the regeneration of important hardwood forests that support rural economies and abundant wildlife. He has organized and facilitated regional, national, and international conferences among landholders, resource managers, and scientists. He holds a BS degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin and an MA degree in history from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.


Lynn Scarlett

Lynn Scarlett retired in 2021 as Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy. In this role, she influenced climate and conservation policy in the United States and the more than 70 countries and territories in which TNC operates. She worked with TNC’s corporate engagement team to advance private-sector partnerships on sustainability and climate change. Prior to TNC, Lynn was the Deputy Secretary/Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the George W. Bush Administration, where she also served as Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. Lynn is author or co-author of publications on climate change adaptation, ecosystem services, large landscape conservation, and science and decision making. She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the University of California Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management; the Administrative Board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the boards of the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, National Wildlife Refuge Association, and Yellowstone to Yukon organization. She resides in the Santa Barbara, California area. She is an avid birder and hiker.


Lynne Sherrod

Lynne Sherrod served as Chairman of the Sand County Foundation Board from 2015-24. She served as Western Policy Manager for the Land Trust Alliance from 2006 to 2014. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) where she worked extensively with a variety of partners and diverse interests to build bipartisan political support for conservation from the grassroots level up. During her 9-year tenure as CCALT’s first full-time executive director, CCALT partnered with more than 125 ranching families to protect 225,000 acres of productive working landscapes. Sherrod has held leadership positions with numerous associations, boards of directors,advisory boards, and steering committees. She also was instrumental in launching Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award in 2003. Sherrod and her husband own and operate a cattle ranch near Grand Junction, Colorado.


Stanley A. Temple, Ph.D.

Stan Temple is the Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation (emeritus) in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and past Chairman of the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He has worked on international conservation problems, and has helped save several rare endangered species. Dr. Temple has received the highest honors bestowed by The Society for Conservation Biology and The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology; he is a Fellow of The American Ornithologists’ Union, The Explorer’s Club, the New York Zoological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Temple has been Chairman of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and President of The Society for Conservation Biology. He has served on editorial boards or as editor of several wildlife publications, including Bird Conservation, which he founded. His bibliography contains over 300 publications. Dr. Temple’s career in conservation and ecology has been characterized by interdisciplinary approaches to solving environmental problems and energetic contributions to the conservation movement both locally and globally.


Nita Vail

Nita Vail is Principal at Vail Ranch Consulting Group and a land broker with California Outdoor Properties. She was a founding member of the California Rangeland Trust and became Chief Executive Officer in 2000 where she continued to serve until May 2020. Nita is a fourth-generation rancher brought up in the Vail & Vickers ranching tradition on Santa Rosa Island. In 1994, Nita was appointed by Governor Wilson to serve as Assistant Secretary of Agricultural and Environmental Policy for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She has worked with diverse agribusinesses, including Foster Farms, Idetek and Cattle-Fax. Nita received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Agricultural Business Management from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA and her MBA from University of Santa Clara, Institute of Agribusiness in Santa Clara. She is a graduate of Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Strategic Public Sector Negotiation Program, the California Agricultural Leadership Program, and the American Leadership Forum.


Edward M. Warner

Ed Warner is a noted philanthropist and conservationist. In his career as an exploration geologist, he discovered and participated in development of the Jonah and Pinedale Fields which combined were the largest gas accumulations discovered within the continental U.S in over 40 years. Since leaving the natural gas business in 2000, he pursues philanthropy full-time with major gifts to Colorado State University, Sand County Foundation, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Warner earned geology degrees, a B.S from Colorado State University and M.S. from UCLA. He received an honorary doctorate from Colorado State University. He has lectured on geology, cooperative conservation, conflict resolution and philanthropy practices at numerous universities, law schools and museums. He wrote book reviews for the Denver- based Bloomsbury Review, and is the author of "Running with Rhinos: Stories from a Radical Conservationist". Currently, he is a Trustee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Previously, he served as Trustee of the Geological Society of America Foundation, the American Geological Institute Foundation and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.


Ingrid C. “Indy” Burke, Ph.D. Director Emeritus

Ingrid (Indy) Burke is Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She was formerly Director of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Burke is an ecosystem scientist, with particular expertise in carbon and nitrogen cycling of semi-arid ecosystems. She directed the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research team for six years, as well as other large interdisciplinary research teams funded by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health. She was designated a U.S. Presidential Faculty Fellow, has served on the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Science and Toxicology, as well as numerous scientific panels for national agencies. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Middlebury College, and her Ph.D in Botany from the University of Wyoming. She is married with two children, competes in occasional triathlons, and is an avid big game hunter.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam Reed Coleman

Reed Coleman, Sand County Foundation’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus, was born in 1933 in Madison, Wisconsin, where he lived most of his life. On many weekends during elementary and high school, Reed joined his parents for the short trip north of Madison to their rural property near the banks of the Wisconsin River.

Reed’s father, Tom Coleman, a Madison industrialist, was a dear friend of conservation visionary Aldo Leopold. In fact, he asked Leopold’s wife, Estella, to be Reed’s Godmother. Shortly after Aldo Leopold purchased his now famous Shack property, the Colemans became neighbors and partners in a land restoration effort. Tom Coleman had the practical insight to link parcels of land to enhance wildlife habitat. He and Leopold were hunting and fishing buddies who passed down to their children their love of the outdoors and interest in the natural world.

In his later years, Reed fondly recalled time spent at the Shack with some of the Leopold children. After helping to plant trees as part of the restoration of the once farmed but badly depleted properties, they played a game in the woods that they called swinging birches.

As Reed explained it, “You pick a birch tree of a certain size and suppleness, and you shimmy up it. Then you grab it with both hands and you swing out. If you’ve made a good decision it’ll gently drop you down on to the ground, and then you can let go and it’ll go back up. I hate to say it, but those wonderful Leopold children used to stick me on a stiff birch and leave me about 20 feet off the ground.”

A lifelong outdoorsman dedicated to Leopold’s idea of a land ethic, Reed earned a degree in ecology at Northwestern University. He graduated in 1955, and went on to serve in the United State Air Force as an intelligence officer.

In 1964, when Reed’s father passed away, Reed replaced him at the helm of the family-owned business, Madison-Kipp Corporation, a manufacturer of precision components and assemblies for the durable goods market. At 31-years-old, with a growing family of his own, he became the third generation of the Coleman family to lead the enterprise, and remained chairman of the board until 2016.

In the mid 1960s, about fifteen years after the death of Aldo Leopold, floodplain lands close to the Leopold Shack were being subdivided. Reed secured voluntary agreements among neighboring landowners to protect the Shack area from development. There was no roadmap to follow to execute such an agreement, no existing land trusts with comparable voluntary agreements to emulate. But in the end, all of the neighboring landowners signed on to create what they called the Leopold Memorial Reserve – a pioneering venture in cooperative land conservation that ultimately brought Sand County Foundation to life.

Reed’s skilled executive leadership ability, shrewd intellect, unyielding commitment to sound principles, and sense of humor not only led Sand County Foundation through 50 years of improving private land conservation across the U.S. and abroad, but it made him a sought-after board member and volunteer leader of many organizations including Kemper Insurance, Parker Pen Company, and Manpower Inc. Reed also served as the state chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in the early 1970s.

Reed forever saw science as an essential means to evaluate progress towards improved land and water health. It was through his leadership that research capacity was strengthened at The Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He also volunteered his ingenious and creative spirit to benefit numerous nonprofit and civic organizations including The Norman Bassett Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the National Commission on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, Beloit College, and the United Way. His commitment to measurable philanthropy in general, and to his beloved Sand County Foundation in particular, was unwavering but understated.

In 2016, as Sand County Foundation approached its 50th anniversary of addressing conservation challenges, Reed transitioned to chairman emeritus and handed the reigns to Colorado rancher Lynne Sherrod.

“I regarded Reed as a dear and wonderful man who has been a great leader for Sand County Foundation and its work for private land conservation,” she said. “He was a great mentor to me, and a hard act to follow.”

Reed remained active in Sand County Foundation decision-making, leadership and succession well into 2020. He died on August 17, 2020.

In a 2009 interview, he summed it up this way, “My entire life, the interests that I’ve had are either to start something that needs to be done and to help build it to the point where it’s pretty much routine, then I get out. Or to fix something that’s broken, and once fixed and back on track and operating normally, get out. And one of the things that I really love about Sand County Foundation is that it’s almost always working to fix a broken world. It can never be really fixed. And everyday there’s something new to start.”