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.
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. She serves the scientific community on the Agronomic Science Foundation's Board of Trustees, as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, and as an associate editor with the Journal of Environmental Quality. 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.
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 manages the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award Program in western states. His upbringing on a 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 in rural Utah.
Nikki D'Adamo-Damery leads the Sand County Foundation's work with historically underserved farmers and ranchers, primarily through the Land Ethic Mentorship Program. Throughout her career, Nikki has worked to align practices with values, especially as they relate to governance, operations, engagement, and ecology. She helped to operationalize the first community land trust in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, created a cross-sector network to address community food security in central Appalachia, operated a small grazing operation that included stocker cattle, heifers, sheep, and pastured poultry, and supported limited resource farmers in southern Alabama with Heifer International. Nikki has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, and an MS in Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture, with a certificate in Social Justice, from Iowa State University. She is based outside of Richmond, Virginia.
Haley joined Sand County Foundation in 2022 as coordinator of the Pollinator Habitat Grant Program which provides grants to high school science and agriculture teachers for a hands on program that engages students in establishing pollinator habitat. Haley holds a Master of Environmental Education focused on sustainable agriculture from University of Minnesota-Duluth. She has co-owned a market garden farm in rural Iowa, and works as an agricultural educator with a variety of schools and nonprofit organizations. She is based in Duluth, Minnesota.
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.
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, 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 joined the Sand County Foundation 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.
Samuel joined Sand County Foundation in 2023. He has experience in analyzing agricultural field data sets and developing innovative solutions to drive production growth. He completed his BS in Agronomy from EARTH University in Costa Rica. Samuel holds a Master's degree in Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition from Louisiana State University, where he developed a deep understanding of statistical analysis, regression models, and data visualization techniques. Samuel worked as a research assistant at the University of Florida while pursuing his Ph.D. in Soil and Water Sciences. He applied his expertise to contribute to the update of micronutrients application rate for citrus trees with greening disease in Florida. Samuel is passionate about using data to drive decision-making. He excels at explaining complex concepts for non-technical stakeholders.
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 the Edgerton City Council in 2020.
Gwen Lewis joined Sand County Foundation in 2022 as Conservation Outreach Advisor working with historically underserved farmers and ranchers, primarily through the Land Ethic Mentorship program. She brings over 30 years of experience in conservation, outreach, and land management. She recently retired after over 20 years with USDA Forest Service where she served as Equal Opportunity Manager. As a District Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service she provided financial and technical assistance to landowners. Gwen completed her undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Tuskegee Institute and a M.S. in environmental management from Troy University. She lives in Alabama with her husband.
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’s comprehensive Sand County Foundation role encompasses financial management, grant management, and board support. She also serves as SCF's Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. 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 as an administrative assistant to the President and Vice-President of the American Postal Workers Union in Washington, DC. Holly holds a B.A. in English Literature from Gustavus Adolphus College.
Briana joined Sand County Foundation in 2022. She previously worked with farmers and ranchers in northeastern California's Great Basin, collaborating with private landowners and managers to develop farm conservation plans to encourage bird habitat, watershed vitality, soil health, carbon sequestration, and wildlife-friendly management. She manages two healthy soils demonstration projects studying the effects of compost application and diverse seed mixes on California rangelands. She has worked throughout the U.S. on wildlife research projects and developed her interest in working lands while living and working with sheep grazers in the Andes Mountains as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. Briana received a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Haleigh joined Sand County Foundation in 2023 as the Agricultural Geospatial Data Scientist. She uses soil and water data and geospatial models to quantify the impact of Sand County Foundation’s conservation projects. Haleigh obtained her Ph.D. in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Science at Iowa State University where she also received certificates in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Data-Driven Food Energy and Water Decision Making. Her dissertation work focused on the economics and efficiencies of conservation practice adoption, as well as equitable food-energy-water systems. She has an M.S. in Agronomy from Penn State University, where she researched integrated weed management in dairy cropping systems. She is based in Ames, Iowa.
Tricia Verville joined Sand County Foundation in 2021 to lead a regenerative agriculture initiative in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan Basin. She works with farmer-led groups to achieve water quality and climate resiliency goals. She previously served as a research project manager and safety lead for the Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association. Prior to that, she worked as a crop specialist, and as a deputy conservation warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Based in Wautoma, Wis. she plays an active role in Sand County Foundation projects across the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
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.
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.
Jake joined EPIC in 2023. His work focuses on creation, collaboration, and implementation of projects and transactions. This includes public financing of water infrastructure, establishment of predevelopment loan funds for drinking water and conservation, and creation of more structures for philanthropic and private finance to accelerate infrastructure funding deployment, especially in disadvantaged communities that haven’t previously received federal infrastructure funds. He is based in Lexington, Virginia.
Garrett joined EPIC in 2022 as the Western Restoration Program Manager. He brings a unique combination of education, experience, and enthusiasm to restoring ecosystems. As part of the Restoration Economy Center he works to help underserved communities and tribes access funding from the federal culvert restoration grant program. Garrett previously worked with the Santa Clara Pueblo, a Native American Tribe in New Mexico, where he integrated nature-based solutions and Indigenous knowledge to develop nationally recognized restoration projects. Garrett received his B.A. in Geography from University of California-Santa Barbara and his M.Sc. in Natural Resource Management from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Sarah joined EPIC as the Chief Business Officer after nearly 15 years in private practice where she advised start-up water infrastructure companies and other clients in tax, governance, and employment law. She holds a J.D. with a concentration in Conflict of Law from Case Western Reserve University, a M.B.A. with a concentration in Health Systems Management from Case Western Reserve University, a B.S. in Economics from the University of Delaware, a B.A. in English with a concentration in Technical Writing from the University of Delaware, and a minor in French from the University of Delaware.
Steve joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2022. He's an environmental engineer with 13 years of experience working for non-profit organizations and private firms to provide professional support and expertise to utilities and communities on water infrastructure projects and community development. Most recently, he managed over 50 diverse water projects for the American Water Works Association’s Community Engineering Corps Program. In addition, Steve has worked closely with various levels of government, from local town councils to state funding and regulatory agencies and federal agencies, and he serves on Littleton, Colorado's City Council.
Kevin joined EPIC in 2023 to provide technical assistance in the Mid-Atlantic region and will support EPIC's national Environmental Finance Center work. Kevin is a certified wastewater operator with experience providing consulting services to public water utilities and municipal clients. Kevin is based in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Phil joined EPIC in 2023 as a Water Data Scientist. His work involves using data-driven solutions to bolster equitable access to clean water and support the EPIC team. He previously served as a research assistant and data analyst on projects building spatial data tools for promoting environmental justice, analyzing racial disparities in drug arrests, and designing predictive models to help students maintain their scholarships. He holds a B.S. in Data Science from the College of Charleston and a B.S. in Music Industry Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. Phil is pursuing a master’s degree in Data Science for Public Policy from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.
Maureen joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2020 after serving as Senior Director for Clean Water at Environmental Advocates NY. There, she championed statewide clean water legislation and policies. Maureen also served as Executive Director of the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, strengthening the capacity of dozens of grassroots groups and municipalities to protect their streams and water resources. Based in Upstate New York, Maureen serves her community as an elected council member in her town of 35,000 outside of Albany. She is a member of the boards of SEE Turtles and El Triunfo Conservation Foundation. Maureen holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The American University School of International Service.
Grace joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2022 as the Senior Manager of the Restoration Economy Center. She previously served as Chief Program Officer for Earth Force, a national nonprofit that works to engage people in environmental policy development. Her experience in public service, ecosystem research, and data communication culminates in her work for EPIC. The Restoration Economy Center leads research projects, stewards an environmental restoration coalition, and advocates in support of raising the profile of restoration of damaged and degraded landscapes. Grace writes policy recommendations and leads efforts on restoration coalition-building. She holds a Bachelor's degree in zoology specializing in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology from Michigan State University, and a Masters in Biology specializing in ecosystem health from University of Alabama.
Susan is the Executive Assistant to Tim Male and joined EPIC in the summer of 2023. She has spent her career serving in mission-driven organizations, in global policy and advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (an organization that strengthens fundraising capabilities of educational institutions), Women’s Growth Capital Fund (which funded mid-sized, women owned businesses), and the Brookings Institution. Susan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Mike Hardesty joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2023. His responsibilities included out-of-classroom teaching, program development and management, fundraising, and financial planning. He previously served as the Associate Director of Programs and Staff for Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society. Mike also served as the first Director of Washington College’s River and Field Campus, a 5,000-acre waterfront property, where he oversaw programs from large-landscape ecological restoration to multifaceted avian research. Mike is a Return Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Malawi, Africa where he assisted in developing private tree nurseries and initiated a horticultural program. He also coordinated an agribusiness assistance program for the Clinton Foundation in Malawi. Mike holds B.S. in Biology from Washington College and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.
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.
Harry joined us in 2021 to spearhead EPIC's focus on federal agriculture policy and create policy changes to encourage adoption of water quality partnerships. At the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, he advanced policy to increase the use of agricultural conservation and nutrient pollution trading. Prior to graduating from the University of Maryland, he managed a research study on the effects of cover crops and nitrogen leaching. He interned with the National Association for State Departments of Agriculture, and the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He also worked on policy advocacy with National Farmers Union. Harry has volunteered on local and national political campaigns focusing on policy development and communications.
Becca has over 15 years of experience analyzing issues at the intersection of natural resources and economics. She has written on topics ranging from global policies promoting biodiversity conservation, to feasibility of water quality trading in the Chesapeake Bay, to the application of an ecosystem services perspective at a major beverage company. Prior to joining EPIC, she spent eight years managing and conducting research on a wide range of topics related to natural resources within the context of electric power industry environmental challenges. Prior to this, she was Principal of Madsen Environmental, providing consulting services to businesses seeking return on investment from environmental restoration and sustainability actions. Becca holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina Honors College and a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University. She was a Peace Corps volunteer, a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow, a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Forest Service, and an Enviropreneur Fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center.
Jessie is a Senior Analyst of Water and Technology Policy with the Environmental Policy Innovation Center. Prior to joining EPIC, she led business development and strategy for Upstream Tech, a technology start-up that uses satellite imagery to monitor and evaluate natural resources. She has also worked on programs related to regional planning for wetlands restoration and urban climate change resilience for the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration and Stantec. She can often be found swimming in the lake by her house in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, or bouldering in the woods nearby. Jessie holds a Master of Science in Water Resource Engineering and Environmental Policy from Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from The University of Texas.
Palencia is the Midwest Manager of EPIC's Funding Navigator, a program to ensure many more water utilities that serve overburdened communities receive state and federal funds for water infrastructure. She joined EPIC in 2023 bringing more than 20 years of engineering and water utility experience, most recently as the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer for the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Based in Detroit, Palencia is a graduate of the University of Michigan (Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering), and Wayne State University (Master of Science Civil Engineering). Palencia was one of the youngest minority women to ever attain licensure as a Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan in 2006.
Sapna joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2023 as a senior analyst of water policy. She works to expand and build EPIC’s focus on embedding equity and justice in federal water infrastructure funding practices, lead service line replacement strategies, and providing technical assistance to disadvantaged communities. Sapna has more than 10 years of experience in the water sector. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies and international relations from Eckerd College and an M.A. in sustainable international development from Brandeis University. In addition, Sapna has worked internationally with various environmental organizations in Kenya and India and has written articles in multiple water sector publications. She is certified in facilitation and International Association for Public Participation.
Janet joined EPIC in 2022. As a senior water law and policy analyst she supports EPIC’s work on the state policy frameworks governing state revolving funds for water infrastructure. Her career has focused on the intersection of equity concerns and regulatory policy. She initiated and led the Climate & Forest Program for ClientEarth, Europe’s premier public interest environmental law organization. She also has worked on policies related to green infrastructure, water affordability, and lead in drinking water in the Great Lakes region. Janet was appointed to the Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate & Economic Equity and Chairs its Finance Work Group. She is also active in Milwaukee’s Coalition on Lead Emergency (COLE). Janet graduated from the New York University School of Law. She is based in Shorewood, Wisconsin.
Denise Schmidt is Director of EPIC’s Funding Navigator, a program to ensure many more water utilities that serve overburdened communities receive state and federal funds for water infrastructure. Denise has over 30 years of experience working with utilities, local, state, and federal agencies, technical assistance providers, and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, Denise was the Administrator of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s Division of Water Utility Regulation and Analysis. Her work on outreach to financially troubled utilities, lead service line replacement, conservation and efficiency, utility staff and stakeholder training, workforce diversity, and other programs helped ensure that the state’s public water utilities have the capacity to provide safe, reliable, affordable, equitable, and environmentally responsible service. Denise has served in various professional and volunteer roles, including staff member and decision maker at the local and regional level, private consultant, instructor at Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities, and leadership positions in state and national water industry organizations. She has a master’s degree from Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.
Lilly is the Administrative Assistant for the Water Team at EPIC. Lilly spent the last decade working in sustainable food systems, including gleaning programs, community education, and organic farming. Her work has been influenced by a desire to create safe and equitable communities through food access. Prior to joining EPIC, Lilly completed a MA in Southern Studies and MFA in Documentary Expression at the University of Mississippi, focusing on agricultural labor history and transnational practices specifically between Kentucky and Western Mexico.
Dr. Tracee Smith is Manager of EPIC’s Funding Navigator for southern states. Funding Navigator is a program to ensure many more water utilities that serve overburdened communities receive state and federal funds for water infrastructure. She brings 30 years of experience in management, community relations, and marketing. Tracee has a strong desire to improve water equity and advance public health in marginalized communities. She previously was the Registrar and Director of Student Records at Alcorn State University, where she continues to serve as adjunct professor. She teaches Multicultural and Global Health, School and Community Health, Health and Wellness, and Organizational Health. Tracee has degrees in Public Health, Business and Workforce Development.
Prior to joining EPIC as a Senior Manager, Reed spent eight years at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GA)) reviewing federal government programs as part of the Natural Resources and Environment team. His work has included reviews of EPA's air quality monitoring program and technology transfer at multiple agencies, and efforts to make better use of data and build capacity at GAO. As a graduate student, he helped organizations in Tanzania and Indonesia refine strategies for tackling human-wildlife conflict around a national park and improving urban water sources. Reed holds a Master's of Public Administration from Cornell University, where he focused on science, technology, and infrastructure policy, and a BA in International Political Economy from Georgetown University.
Gabe Watson joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2022 to evaluate environmental data and technology, and assist EPIC team members with data support. He has a passion for racial justice and increasing access to, and stewardship of, the natural world. His professional focus is using data, visualizations, and narrative to tackle environmental justice issues. Previously, he spent three years at The Commons as a data scientist, supporting conservation groups like Blue Water Baltimore, Environmental Integrity Project, and Chesapeake Legal Alliance with technology to manage, visualize, and analyze data. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Economics and Urban and Environmental Policy.
Dr. Todd Peterson is a consultant with Sand County Foundation to help with our water quality partnerships in Iowa. He works to connect cities and water utilities with upstream farmers and agricultural influencers to seek ways to improve water quality. Todd trained as a crop and soil scientist while earning degrees from Saint Olaf College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Todd previously developed and adapted agricultural technology tools at the University of Nebraska, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Land O’ Lakes and The Nature Conservancy. He is passionate about agriculture and helping farmers reduce their impacts on the environment.