Staff

Sand County Foundation

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.

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. 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.

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 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.

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.

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, 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 Relations Coordinator

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.

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 the Edgerton City Council in 2020.

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 Finance and Operations

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.

Tricia Verville

Tricia Verville mail_outline Director of Agricultural Systems

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

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.

Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.

Mariah Black Bird

Mariah Black Bird mail_outline Tribal Mitigation Fellow - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Mariah serves as the Tribal Mitigation Fellow with the Environmental Policy Innovation Center. In her role, she focuses on tribal natural resource law and federal policy opportunities. She is a 2021 graduate of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, with a certificate in Indian Law. Her internship experiences included working on a variety of issues intertwined with federal Indian law and policies, as well as tribal natural resources. Mariah has a passion for serving native communities and aiding tribal governments and is a former ASU Native American Law Students Association President. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Sion Calabretta

Sion Calabretta mail_outline Water Policy Associate - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Sion joined the Environmental Policy Innovation Center after graduating from University of California - Berkeley with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Global Poverty and Practice. She studied the scientific and social impacts of climate change, focusing on nitrate and arsenic groundwater contamination and its relationship to immigrant farm workers' access to clean water in California. Much of her experience at Berkeley focused on the intersections of climate restoration and social justice.

Maureen Cunningham

Maureen Cunningham mail_outline Chief Strategy Officer & Director of Water Strategy - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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 Edinger

Grace Edinger mail_outline Senior Manager, Restorative Economy Center - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.

Breeana Gonzalez

Breeana Gonzalez mail_outline Water Policy Associate - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Breeana joined EPIC in 2022. She's a 2022 graduate from Texas A&M University where she studied Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST). Breeana interned at Wine To Water, a nonprofit organization focused on providing clean water to those who are in need. While there, she built emergency response training modules for the organization’s domestic and international offices. She also interned with USAID Tanzania where she used her background in GIST to help improve implementation partner activity tracking and Covid-19 vaccine distribution tracking throughout the country. As president of Texas A&M's Geographical Society, she led an organization aimed at improving data literacy and spatial science awareness for students around the globe.

Katy Hansen

Katy Hansen mail_outline Senior Advisor for Water - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Katy serves as Senior Advisor for Water with the Environmental Policy Innovation Center. In her role, she focuses on the allocation of federal financial assistance for water and wastewater infrastructure. Katy is completing her PhD in Environmental Policy at Duke University where she led projects to digitize over 500 maps of water service areas for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and improve access to sanitation in rural Alabama with the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice. She also worked at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to her PhD, Katy worked at the Association for Water and Rural Development in South Africa and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel on transboundary water management projects. She holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Montana State University and a MSc in Water Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

Phoebe Higgins

Phoebe Higgins mail_outline Director of Markets - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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 Huntley

Harry Huntley mail_outline Nutrient Pollution Policy & Markets Senior Analyst - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.

Gabby Mabayyed

Gabby Mabayyed mail_outline Technology Associate - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Gabby joined EPIC in 2022. As a technology associate she helps create, advocate, collaborate, and advance projects related to digital infrastructure and technology in environmental agencies. Gabby graduated from Tennessee State University in 2021 with a degree in biology. Her collegiate internship involved assessing air quality in underserved communities.

Becca Madsen

Becca Madsen mail_outline Restoration Economy Center Director - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.

Lauryn Magno

Lauryn Magno mail_outline Water Policy Associate - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Lauryn joined EPIC as a Water Policy Associate in 2022. She primarily focuses on water affordability and the equitable allocation and distribution of federal water infrastructure funding. Lauryn started with EPIC as a water policy intern in the summer of 2021. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Oakland University where she studied U.S. environmental policy, including protection of the Great Lakes, and regional environmental policy in the Pacific Islands.

Jessie Mahr

Jessie Mahr mail_outline Senior Analyst, Water & Technology Policy - Environmental Policy Innovation 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.

Denise Schmidt

Denise Schmidt mail_outline Funding Navigator Director - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.

Stephanie Vo

Stephanie Vo mail_outline Senior Water Policy Associate - Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Stephanie joined EPIC in 2022 as a Senior Water Policy Associate. Her work focuses on ensuring a more equitable allocation of federal funding for water infrastructure. Prior to EPIC, she completed a joint international master’s program in Sustainable Development at Leipzig University (Germany) and Utrecht University (the Netherlands), focusing on global equity issues, resilience, and adaptive capacity within the context of climate change. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Oklahoma, where she led her senior capstone project in promoting green stormwater infrastructure and low-impact development on a municipal level.

Consultants

Todd Peterson

Todd Peterson mail_outline Water Quality Partnerships Consultant

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.

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