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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Parker Witt

Parker Witt mail_outline Agricultural Conservation Specialist

Parker Witt joined Sand County Foundation as an agricultural conservation specialist. He is a 2021 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in soil and land management. His internship experiences included agronomy for agricultural cooperatives, and he spent two seasons working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' invasive species program. Parker has an enthusiasm for the outdoors and was the captain of his university's waterski team. He is a native of Lakeland, Minnesota.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jessie Norriss

Jessie Norriss 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.

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.


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. Todd lives in Urbandale, Iowa with his wife Cindy, where they have successfully raised three children and numerous dogs.