Kevin McAleese

Kevin McAleese mail_outline President & CEO

Kevin assumed overall leadership of Sand County Foundation in July 2015. In his over 20 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.

Brent Haglund Ph.D.

Brent Haglund Ph.D. mail_outline Chief Scientific Officer

Brent earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Georgia where he studied with Eugene Odum and Frank Golley. His research interests have been in ecosystem level effects of weather modification, fire management and wildlife populations. Brent was ecological consultant to the Wisconsin Legislative Council on non-point water pollution, was a member of the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission, was a member of the Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute, and was a private sector conservation advisor to the Cabinet of Premier Nick Greiner, New South Wales, Australia. He is author of “Wild Wisconsin” and co-author of “Hands on Environmentalism.” During more than 40 years of volunteer and professional work in conservation and environmental improvement, he has focused on the roles and opportunities of private landowners.

Heidi Peterson Ph.D.

Heidi Peterson Ph.D. mail_outline Vice President - Agricultural Research & Conservation

Dr. Heidi M. Peterson leads Sand County Foundation’s agricultural conservation team and sets its strategic direction in research, and farmer and rancher engagement. She brings significant leadership, teaching, and research experience surrounding agricultural conservation and water quality issues. Heidi previously served as the Phosphorus Program Director with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, and prior to that at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as an expert on agricultural best management practices to address impaired waters. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. Heidi completed her Ph.D. in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Minnesota. At Purdue University she received a MS degree in agronomy, and a BS degree in natural resources and environmental science.

Christina Schellpfeffer

Christina Schellpfeffer mail_outline Vice President – External Relations

Chris leads Sand County Foundation’s communications and development programs. She joined the Foundation in 2013, bringing more than 20 years of experience in marketing, strategic communication and stakeholder relations to the organization. A former journalist, she covered government, public policy and politics for nearly 10 years at the Wisconsin State Capitol as Managing Editor for the Wisconsin Radio Network. As a partner in an advertising agency with a special emphasis on brand development, she consulted with organizations across the U.S. on marketing and communications issues, and led successful public relations programs securing prominent national media coverage. Her work spans industries and issues ranging from food production and medical research to environmental science and economic development.

David Bailey

David Bailey mail_outline Western Director - Leopold Conservation Award® Program

David manages the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award Program in western states. His upbringing on a Utah dairy farm developed his love for agriculture. His professional service to agriculture included a 13-year career with the Utah Farm Bureau, overseeing its Young Farmer and Rancher program as Vice President of Organization. David, who once operated his own woodworking business, has also worked as a professional hunting guide and as a farm manager. Prior to joining Sand County's team in 2019 he worked in commercial and agricultural banking. David remains an active partner in his family's elk, horse and hay farm. He and his wife, Sharleen, and their six children reside in rural Utah.

Bartlett Durand

Bartlett Durand mail_outline Director - Water Quality Partnerships

Bartlett joined Sand County Foundation to facilitate agreements that allow municipalities and utilities to achieve water quality goals by working with farmers and agriculture groups. His work is focused on developing documents that local government and state agencies can use to reach agreements that create enough certainty for cities and sufficient clarity for regulators that water quality goals will be met in the future. Bartlett is a creative attorney and businessman with more than 20 years of experience in academic research, complex litigation, mediation, transactional work and extensive contract work focused on business outcomes. He has started three successful businesses: an artisanal farm-based cheese line from his family’s dairy; a USDA-inspected meat processing business; and a retail butcher shop, The Conscious Carnivore.

Craig Ficenec

Craig Ficenec mail_outline Program Director

Craig joined Sand County Foundation in 2013 as a soil and water program director. He worked for seven years with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, first in California as an agricultural engineer, then in Wisconsin as coordinator of a multi-county resource conservation and development council and as statewide manager of easement and financial assistance programs. Craig also managed conservation initiatives for a non-profit organic farming business incubator program in California, evaluated watershed planning projects as a M.S. thesis in Peru, and developed domestic water projects as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. His experience includes agricultural conservation partnerships in watersheds of the Great Lakes, Monterey Bay, and the Andes.

Phoebe Higgins

Phoebe Higgins mail_outline Director of Markets

Phoebe joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2019 after nearly 10 years at Environmental Defense Fund, where she directed the California Fisheries Fund, an award-winning $3.5-million revolving loan fund financing sustainable commercial fishing. She also worked on sustainable fisheries finance strategy with teams in Mexico, Chile, the Philippines and South Pacific islands. A Montana native, with interests in food systems and finance, Phoebe has served as an impact advisor to entrepreneurs participating in seafood business plan competitions. She holds a degree in Russian Studies from Carleton College in Minnesota, and a Green MBA in Sustainable Entrepreneurship from Dominican University of California.

Lance Irving

Lance Irving mail_outline Leopold Conservation Award® Program Director

Lance took the helm of Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award Program in 2016 after more than 15 years of experience in the outdoor sporting goods industry, and prior to that as a professional wilderness hunting and fishing guide. As chief sales and marketing officer at two outdoor manufacturing companies, most recently Martin Archery, Lance became a recognized leader in the industry for successfully identifying market needs and expanding the customer base by focusing on clearly defining a brand message and forming strategic partnerships. His work has been profiled in trade publications and television programs, and he has been honored with several high profile sales and marketing awards.

Liina Keerd

Liina Keerd mail_outline Program Assistant

Liina Keerd joined the Sand County Foundation as our Program Assistant in 2019, bringing decades of experience to our team. In her previous roles, Liina provided administrative support to attorneys, executive recruiters and professional engineers in Madison, Boston and New York City. She served as an assistant to a retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, and engaged in marketing and event planning for the law firm of Michael Best. Liina also has enjoyed a 20 year volunteer relationship with the Susan G. Komen organization. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Parsons School of Design with a focus on botanical and wildlife illustration.

Casey Langan

Casey Langan mail_outline Communications Director

Casey joined Sand County Foundation in 2018 with more than 20 years of experience in agricultural communications. He previously served as the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation's executive director of public relations and spokesperson. Prior to that, he was a legislative assistant researching policy matters, and a newspaper reporter covering agricultural and rural issues. Casey first came to appreciate agriculture and rural landscapes on his grandparents' dairy and tobacco farm. He was elected to his local city council in 2020.

Ya-Wei (Jake) Li

Ya-Wei (Jake) Li mail_outline Director of Biodiversity - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Jake is the Director of Biodiversity for the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, a fiscally-sponsored project of Sand County Foundation. Jake, a nationally-recognized Endangered Species Act expert, develops innovative policies that improve the speed and scale of endangered species conservation. Jake spent eight years growing the endangered species policy program at the Defenders of Wildlife, as Vice President and Director. He previously represented the regulated community as an environmental lawyer at Latham and Watkins, LLP.

Tim Male Ph.D.

Tim Male Ph.D. mail_outline Executive Director - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Tim leads the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, a fiscally-sponsored project of Sand County Foundation. Tim has 15 years of experience working on national policies that create more innovative, effective, and incentive-focused approaches to wildlife conservation, drought response, finance for water supplies and quality, and agricultural stewardship. His experience includes two years as Associate Director for Conservation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality from 2014 to 2017. A scientist by training, Tim is also a former city council member. 

Greg Olson

Greg Olson mail_outline Field Projects Director

Greg joined Sand County Foundation in 2010 as coordinator of a watershed nutrient management project in the West Branch of the Milwaukee River. In 2013, he began overseeing all field activities for water quality and nutrient management work. Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Mich., Greg has a degree in Wildlife Biology and Management from Central Michigan University. From 2004 to 2010, he worked in wetland, prairie, and forest restoration and research. Prior to Sand County Foundation, Greg worked for Ducks Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service and the US Geological Survey.

Holly Perrotti

Holly Perrotti mail_outline Director of Operations

Holly’s comprehensive Sand County Foundation role encompasses office management, executive assistance and program support.  She has several years of experience in executive assistant roles with senior leaders of non-governmental organizations. Prior to joining Sand County Foundation in 2013, Holly served for five years as an administrative assistant to the President & Vice-President of the American Postal Workers Union in Washington, DC where she assisted with board meetings, meeting and convention preparation, member outreach and contract agreements. Holly holds a B.A. in English Literature from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Sridhar Vedachalam, Ph.D.

Sridhar Vedachalam, Ph.D. mail_outline Director of Water - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Sri is the Director of Water for the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, a fiscally-sponsored project of Sand County Foundation. His work has addressed national water issues such as affordability, aging infrastructure, extreme weather impacts, financing, and non-point source pollution. He brings water policy experience from his years in academia, government, and the non-profit sector. He holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

Katie Ziemer

Katie Ziemer mail_outline Soil Conservationist

Katie Ziemer joined Sand County Foundation as a soil conservationist in 2018. She assists farmers with writing and implementing conservation plans to achieve water quality and soil health improvements. Her work in the Milwaukee River watershed facilitates our collaborative efforts with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service. She works from the USDA's service center in West Bend. She earned dual-degrees in soil and crop science, and environmental horticulture, and she previously worked for the USDA's Farm Service Center in West Bend. She lives in Cedarburg with her husband, Paul.


Karen Sweet

Karen Sweet mail_outline Leopold Conservation Award® – California

Karen conducts outreach to the California agriculture community and interested organizations to promote the Leopold Conservation Award program. She is owner of Sweet Conservation and Agricultural Services in Livermore, Calif., and is the former Executive Officer of the Alameda County Resource Conservation District. Karen operates a cattle ranch with her husband, Darrel, on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Craig Utter

Craig Utter mail_outline Leopold Conservation Award® – Nebraska

Craig conducts outreach to the agricultural community and interested organizations to promote the Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award program.