Livestock Conservancy staff work out of a central office, but they are connected with breeders, members, and partners around the world. The Livestock Conservancy’s central office staff members help to develop projects, produce marketing materials, connect breeders, facilitate research, and more, but it is our in-the-field partners who are doing hands-on conservation that allow us to expand our reach. The Livestock Conservancy staff members also travel around the country to conduct workshops, spread the word about heritage breeds, and assist with research and field-work.
Alison Martin, Ph.D. is The Livestock Conservancy’s Executive Director. As a teenager, Alison raised backyard poultry, waterfowl, rabbits and horses. This early experience led to a career of more than 20 years in poultry science, specializing in health and vaccine development. She was a key leader on the world’s first in ovo (in the egg) vaccine for coccidiosis. Alison has a PhD in Genetics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, where she specialized in disease resistance in poultry. Alison’s skills in building collaborative partnerships have helped The Livestock Conservancy to expand its strategic scientific and technical capacity in conservation programs.
Jeannette Beranger is the Senior Program Manager for the Conservancy. She came to the organization with 25 years’ experience working as an animal professional including veterinary and zoological institutions with a focus on Heritage breeds. She has been with The Conservancy since 2005 and uses her knowledge to plan and implement conservation programs, conduct field research, and advise farmers in their endeavors with rare breeds. She is co-author of the best-selling book “An Introduction to Heritage Breeds.” At home she maintains a Heritage breeds farm with a focus on rare breed chickens. In 2015 she was honored as one of the top “45 Amazing Country Women in America” by Country Woman magazine for her long standing dedication to endangered breed conservation.
Michele Brane serves as the Conservancy’s Information Manager. She has a background in technical writing, editing, and documentation of medical and accounting software. She is responsible for managing the database and fine-tuning the capacity of this software. Michele and her husband enjoy the company of their rare/uncommon breeds of dogs.
Charlene Couch, Ph.D. is a Senior Program Manager for the Conservancy. She grew up on a small farm in western North Carolina with horses, beef cattle, goats, and chickens. Her doctoral degree is in Zoology with a biotechnology minor. Charlene has a keen interest in conservation of genetic diversity in livestock. She currently keeps horses and Dominique chickens.
Karena Elliott is the Development Director for the Conservancy. She was raised on a cow/calf farm in western Kentucky and has a long history of supporting agriculture. She has raised funds for colleges of agriculture throughout the United States and is also a freelance writer telling the stories of the American farming and ranching industry. You can read some of her work at www.KarenaElliott.com. Karena holds a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and a master’s degree in education. She has worked with horses, swine, poultry, and rabbits and even met her husband, a dairy animal nutritionist, in a sheep science class. Karena is working to help The Livestock Conservancy expand our mission to save Heritage Breeds. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cindra Kerscher serves as a Program Coordinator for The Livestock Conservancy. Having been raised in a rural, Pennsylvania farm community, Cindra fully appreciates small, family farmers. She is currently working toward a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Central Carolina Community College and becoming a Certified Beekeeper from the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. Cindra oversees the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em program, coordinates requests for the Conservancy’s display and marketing materials, and works with Breed Associations. She sees a small diversified farm is in her future.
Jaye Ray serves as the Program’s Assistant working to support The Livestock Conservancy’s Senior Program Manager’s and Programs Coordinator. She will also be handling breed registrations as the registrar for our Registration Services for Breed Associations. Jaye has an extensive background in data management and administration. She enjoys learning about different cultures through cooking and music.
Jeanne Serrette is a development assistant with the Livestock Conservancy, aiding in fundraising and growth to support the central mission of the organization. She comes to the Conservancy with a background as wide as her knowledge base, having been a high school English teacher, a librarian, a technical writer, and most recently a social media coordinator and webmaster. Her dream is to continue building her micro-hobby-garden-farm so that she can provide sustainable food sources for her family and their pack of mismatched critters.
Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, Ph.D. has served as Technical Advisor to the Livestock Conservancy since 1978, providing counsel and mentoring to Conservancy staff, breeders, breed associations, scholars, and NGO partners. He was the r force for establishing the Conservation Priority List and the standards for rare breed inclusion on that list. Because of the quality and originality of his approach to conservation, Dr. Sponenberg’s expertise is internationally renowned. He is the author of several books on color genetics and conservation, and is a sought after speaker domestically and abroad. Phil is Professor of pathology and genetics at Virginia Tech. On his own farm, he is a conservation breeder of Tennessee Fainting goats, and enjoys playing with color genetics in his Brahma chickens.
Brittany Sweeney serves as the Communications Manager for The Livestock Conservancy, showcasing the amazing things that happen when people come together around a common cause. A skilled communicator with a background in journalism, Brittany handles our social media, printed and digital publications, like The Livestock Conservancy News, E-News, Directory: Rare Breeds and Products Directory, and much more. Brittany is passionate about animals and food and spends her free time cooking, and chasing after her backyard menagerie of chickens, ducks, geese, dogs, and cats. There’s always something happening on her backyard “Punny Farm” in Durham.
Angelique Thompson currently serves as the Conservancy’s Senior Operations Director. Thompson oversees the financial operations of the organization, human resources, information technology and systems development, and meeting organization. Thompson also serves as a liaison to the Board in planning and organizing Board meetings. Thompson works directly with the Executive Director and Board to facilitate long-range planning geared towards operational effectiveness and organizational success.
Wendy Jennings currently serves as the Conservancy’s Administrative Assistant working to support the Executive Director, Operations Director and the Board. She has an extensive background in Administrative Support and Customer Service. Wendy enjoys travel, yoga and photography.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Livestock Conservancy is governed by a Board of Directors. This Board sets policy and priorities for the organization. Directors are elected by the membership and serve three-year terms. The Conservancy’s current Board of Directors are as follows:
Patricia (Pat) K. Johnston has wide-ranging experience in the non-profit world, starting four non-profits herself. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Akhal-Teke Association of America, where she steers various preservation projects for this ancient threatened horse breed. In the last two years, Pat and her husband, Kevin Matthews, launched the Akhal-Teke Foundation, an award-winning breed education and preservation public charity. Pat and Kevin also breed Akhal-Teke horses at their ranch in Oregon, Swan Farm. She holds a dual degree in range management and wildlife science and has extensive professional experience in both areas, including wildlife reintroduction projects and threatened and endangered species mitigation. Pat currently works in the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, overseeing landscape-scale native plant community restoration, a native seed collection program, and several collaborative facilitation projects, and she was the principal author of their national Strategic Plan for Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution.
Jay (Jerry) Calvert was a commercial litigator and handled large, high-profile business disputes, including matters involving antitrust, intellectual property, and securities law, and healthcare and regulatory issues. His clients ranged from global enterprises in the airline, banking, and pharmaceutical fields, to those in the oil, healthcare, life sciences, and electric utility industries. Jerry was a Senior Counsel at Morgan Lewis; he also served as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, Manager of its global Litigation Practice and Managing Partner of the firm. After a year’s hiatus, Jerry is once again serving on the Board of Directors of the Zoological Society of Philadelphia and also formerly served as its Chairman. He received the Zoo’s Conservation Impact award in 2015. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and also served as the President of the Board. Jerry currently serves on, and is a former Chairman of, the Steering Committee of the Sunday Breakfast Club (a club for leaders in the Philadelphia area). While Jerry lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, he also is beginning to breed Irish Dexter cattle on his farm in Wolfeboro, NH.
Isabela Castaneda grew up in Mexico City, where she was very involved and passionate about her dogs and horses. She got her bachelor’s degree in Economics in Mexico where she worked at the Finance Ministry as an assistant to the Undersecretary of Finance and later got an MBA in Finance at Yale University. After working for a short time as an investment banker, she moved to Washington DC, where she spent the next 15 years at a management consulting firm working as a Research Fellow and later as a Program Manager in the areas of statistics, econometrics, and survey research. In 2012, she became a full-time stay-at-home mom and moved with her husband and two young children to Richland Center, Wisconsin to start a farm using sustainable agricultural practices and raising Romeldale CVM sheep. Isabela served as President of the National Romeldale CVM Conservancy from Jan 2015 to Dec 2016.
Richard Browning, Ph.D. is a Professor of Animal Science, Tennessee State University, Nashville. He grew up in Raywood, Texas where he was active in the Hull-Daisetta FFA and Liberty County 4-H through the raising and showing of Red Brahman cattle. He earned a B.Sc. (1989) from Prairie View A&M University and M.Sc. (1992) and Ph.D. (1994) from Texas A&M University. Dr. Browning’s graduate research focused on the reproductive performance of Brahman cattle and comparative calf performance of tropically-adapted Tuli cattle along with Angus and Brahman under the senior guidance of Dr. Ron Randel. In 1994, Dr. Browning arrived at Tennessee State University in Nashville. At TSU he studied physiological mechanisms and heat-tolerant cattle genetics in relation to fescue toxicosis using Angus, Brahman, Hereford, Holstein, and Senepol breeds. He started meat goat research in 2002. He is studying performance traits among Boer, Kiko, and Spanish breeds. Myotonic and Savanna goats were added later to the research program. Dr. Browning established a Dexter cattle herd at TSU in 2015. The Dexter cattle will be used to advance student teaching and ruminant research. He is married to Dr. Maria Leite-Browning who is a veterinarian and Extension specialist. The two of them are thoroughly engaged in outreach activities to assist meat goat producers. An overview of his work can be found here.
David L. Anderson was born and raised in the farming countryside of southwestern New York state. As an adult he relocated to California where he now resides with his wife Michele. He has been a proactive community leader, including five years of service on the board of the local unified school district and as a member of the local area advisory committee. Dave is a life-long breeder and exhibitor of many standard-bred breeds and varieties of poultry, including large fowl chickens, bantams, turkeys, geese, and ducks. He served six years as president and ten years on the Board of Directors of the American Poultry Association (APA), North America’s oldest livestock organization (established 1873). Dave is a general licensed poultry judge and has judged throughout the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico, plus Hawaii and Alaska. He has served as an expert poultry witness in court on multiple trials in California and has testified before the state legislature concerning poultry matters. He was inducted into the California Poultry Hall of Fame and the APA Hall of Fame in 2006. Dave holds a BA degree in Psychology with advanced studies in Systems Management from the University of Southern California (USC). He is now retired after enjoying a successful career in the aerospace industry and space program. He also served for 30 years as founder and president of Key Group, a management and marketing consultant firm providing support primarily to aerospace-oriented service companies. His list of clients included both privately and publicly owned companies, and ran the gamut from “Mom and Pop” businesses to industry leaders such as Westinghouse, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Dave also was part owner and officer in various companies, and served on the Board of Directors of two other corporations.
Gloria Basse grew up on a dairy farm where they milked over 100 Guernsey cows in southeast Wisconsin. She is formerly, the V.P. US Pork Business at Zoetis and served marketing, sales, and leadership roles in Animal Health for 30 years. Gloria is a seasoned executive who has a history of successfully leading dynamic organizations to drive performance and a unique ability to lead teams and develop people. It is her keen understanding of business strategy and processes, strength in building teams, and ability to instill dedication to team success that has made her an effective and proven leader. She is currently working with Tonisity International as their Senior Executive Director whose mission is to bring non-antibiotic, disruptive products to the animal health industry and producers worldwide. She is also a Senior Associate at The Context Network, a business management and strategy consulting firm providing services to the world’s leading agriculture, biotechnology and food companies. Gloria holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA in business from William E. Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, NY. Recently, Gloria moved out of hustle and bustle of NYC and now enjoys living on her small farm in southwest Virginia.
Silas Bernardoni studied Industrial and System Engineering and did his graduate research on the implementation of disruptive technology. His off-farm job is engineer and project manager, working with energy utilities across the country to implement energy efficiency programs. Silas returned to Wisconsin to start a family and apply his professional skills by co-operating Roller Coaster Farm alongside his parents and siblings. Roller Coaster Farm is firmly committed to a holistic approach that exclusively utilizes heritage breeds and combines pre-industrial methodologies with modern technology, research, and a data-driven approaches to management. Silas and his family have been active in The Livestock Conservancy and many national breed associations for as long as he can remember.
Richard M. Blaney is a Floridian with a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University (1965) and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University (1970), Major in Zoology, Minor in Botany (FSU), Chemistry (FSU), and Geology (LSU).”Looking back over 7 decades, life has been an adventure, and always interesting. During the early part of life, I was a student eager to learn about the world around me. Science was my passion, my life style, and that has never changed. I have my list of accomplishments, many publications, degrees, etc., but I am still a student. I traveled throughout the USA, Mexico, and the Caribbean doing field studies and lab research in comparative vertebrate anatomy, systematics, biogeography, evolution, and ecology, primarily specializing in herpetology. I have been deeply involved with Environmental issues and Endangered Species. Later in my career, I eventually concentrated on teaching courses for Allied Health students, Human Anatomy and Physiology. I designed and taught online courses, but absolutely prefer teaching face to face. I wrote lab manuals and study guides for these courses. I even did a Television series with 14 one hour episodes, ‘Survey of Anatomy and Physiology.’ I also served as Department Chair, a demanding and thankless job. I retired in 2006 and moved from central Florida to a more isolated area in north Florida with plenty of room. Hence began my third phase of life as a rancher. I am now dedicated to preserving Galiceño horses, a critically endangered breed of Colonial Spanish horse. Galiceños of Suwannee is our 80 acre horse ranch located in Suwannee County near Live Oak, Florida.” More information can be found at http://Galiceno.org
Judy Brummer grew up on a family farm in Southern Illinois where cattle, hogs, horses, and grain crops were raised. She and her three sisters were involved in every aspect of working and managing the farm with their parents. Judy has always had an interest in health care and an unquenchable thirst for education. She acquired two associate degrees, a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing as her first career choice – and later became a physician. When she met and married her husband, who is also a physician and also grew up on a family farm, they worked together toward their shared dream of returning to farming. They now live on a small farm in Central Illinois, where they raise Rocky Mountain Horses and Braunvieh cattle. Judy has been involved in the Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA) for more than 10 years. She has served on several committees, as a Director of Examiners, and as President for 6 years. Judy was also so pleased to be a part of an Appalachian oral history project, recording the early history of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed before the Registry was created. She also assisted in the establishment of the Rocky Mountain Horse Foundation and became a member of their board. Judy has traveled across the United States and overseas as a representative of the RMHA and the Rocky Mountain Horse, and was inducted into the Charles Kilburn Society, an honorary society recognizing individuals who have made a significant contribution to the RMHA and the Rocky Mountain Horse breed.
Rebecca Burgess is the Executive Director of Fibershed, a nonprofit organization that develops equity-focused regional and land-regenerating natural fiber and dye systems, and Chair of the Board for Carbon Cycle Institute. She has more than a decade of experience writing and implementing a hands-on curriculum that focuses on the intersection of restoration ecology and fiber systems. She has taught at Westminster College, Harvard University, and created workshops for a range of NGOs and corporations. Rebecca is also the author of the best-selling book Harvesting Color, a bioregional look into the natural dye traditions of North America, and Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy released in 2019. She continues to facilitate an extensive network of farmers and artisans within the Northern California Fibershed to pilot the regenerative fiber systems model at the community scale.
Norman Burns is the President and CEO of Conner Prairie Museum in Fishers, Indiana. The Museum houses a wide collection of heritage breed livestock and is an active breeder of Ossabaw pigs, Tunis sheep, and English Longhorn cattle among others.Burns was raised on a small farm in middle Tennessee where they raised Hereford cattle. He has been actively involved in museum administration and entrepreneurial leadership, fund raising, preservation, conservation, animal husbandry, education, and cultural heritage tourism for more than 34 years. He turned his hand to hand- shearing demonstrations and many other tasks with heritage breeds and heirloom plants at living history museums in Tennessee and Indiana before turning to administration. As the CEO and Executive Director of six different historic properties and general museums, Burns has developed nationally recognized, award-winning, and innovative programming. He has developed visionary strategic, site master, and business plans that have allowed organizations to experience stages of developmental growth in operational income, physical plant, and properties. Norman has also served on various boards, committees, and task forces for local and regional cultural tourism agencies, and has served in a similar capacity for local, state, regional and national museum organizations. He is currently the incoming Chair for the American Association for State and Local History.
Keisha Cameron was raised in Brockport, New York, a small town just outside of Lake Ontario. Keisha Cameron grew up as the daughter of Southern preachers’ kids who became Northern school teachers. From a young age, she has been passionate about connecting and communicating with people who shape the community and cultures around her, always exploring languages, histories and stories. She pursued a major in Speech Pathology and American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreted at Ashland University, then went on to attend Hampton University on a track and field scholarship until her father’s passing in 1995. Years later, as a lifelong student and working mother of three, Keisha returned to SUNY Empire State College to study Social Theory, Structure and Change, an interdisciplinary program focused on socio-cultural anthropology. Professionally, Keisha spent more than a decade co-managing 5 Acre Studios, a creative brand marketing and photography company owned and operated with her husband Warren. She worked briefly as Community Relations Manager for Barnes and Noble and as a Refugee Employment Specialist with World Relief. These experiences helped Keisha build skills in community engagement, and she frequently dealt with the intersections of intercultural differences, racial inequities, economic security, and individual and community well-being. In 2009, using an anti-racist/anti-othering framework, Keisha founded The Exchange – a multicultural arts and education organization dedicated to promoting belonging through education, hospitality and play. More recently, Keisha worked with the Montgomery Improvement Association, helping commemorate the 50th Anniversary celebration of the famous bus boycott and the start of the Civil Rights Movement. She has also played host to countless international visitors, missionaries, dignitaries, and exchange students.
Adam P. Dixon is President and Co-Founder of Applied Constructal, Inc. a company focused on bringing high-tech and energy-saving solutions to ecological and environmental problems. He has worked for companies in a wide range “renewable” and “sustainable” technologies, including the “Smart Grid”, electric mobility, and distributed generation technologies such as marine turbines and “waste heat”. As a long-time student of climate change, he is currently working as a consultant in an innovative new form of carbon finance. Adam has had extensive experience in Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union, (especially Russia and Central Asia), having spent the first ten years of his professional life in these regions. He worked for amongst others the Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) as a specialist on Central Asia, the KPMG Barents Group as a Senior Consultant on Defense Conversion in Central Europe, and as Manager for Central Europe and the FSU at Newbridge Networks (now a part of Alcatel), before moving into the renewable energy sector in 2003. Adam has been involved with the Akhal Teke horse since 1998, when he first encountered them while working for Chatham House on the re-invention of national identities in Post-Soviet Central Asia. He has been participating in the breeding program at Shenandoah Farm in Staunton VA since 2004. He worked closely with such entities as GridPoint, Inc. (USA), and the Smart Cities group within the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which developed a range of folding electric vehicles for deployment in “CityBike” type systems in congested urban centers. Adam studied at Harvard (BA 1983), Oxford (M.Phil 1988) and Leningrad State University (1986). Born in New York City in 1960, Mr. Dixon is a US citizen who lives between Vienna and New York, and is married with four children.
Cindy Dvergsten grew up on small farm in Minnesota and holds a degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In 1986 she and her husband, Mike, established Arriola Sunshine Farm near Cortez, Colorado. Cindy fell in love with the concept of conserving endangered breeds while attending the 1998 Livestock Conservancy (ALBC) conference which was held in conjunction with Dine Be Iina’s “Sheep is Life Celebration” in New Mexico. She started with heritage turkeys and chickens, and in 2004, added Navajo-Churro Sheep. Today she has 30 registered sheep. Two-thirds of the lambs are sold as breeding stock and the rest as grass-fed lamb. She also markets wool and value-added products. Cindy is passionate about working with Navajo producers who want to be successful with their sheep, land stewardship, fiber art, and carrying traditional lifeways forward. She is a past board member of Dine Be’ Iina’ and continues to serve as an advisor. Cindy’s professional experience includes 15 years of Federal Service, most of which was with the USDA-NRCS. In 1996 she established Whole New Concepts, LLC. As a management consultant and trainer, Cindy works internationally with family-based agriculture, small businesses, and organizations. She has been a Certified Educator with Holistic Management International since 1997 and is an Accredited Professional with the Savory Institute. She provides services to the SW Colorado Small Business Development Center and was recognized as statewide Consultant of the Year in 2013. Previously she has served as president of the Colorado Holistic Management, president of the local Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Chapter, and chair of the County Planning Commission. In 2019 Arriola Sunshine Farm was designated as an “outstanding demonstration site” by Holistic Management International. Cindy and Mike enjoy sharing what they know is possible with holistic management, regenerative agriculture, and livestock breed conservation.
Sam Garwin is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consultant specializing in market-based solutions for regenerative food systems. In 2012, she completed a butchery apprenticeship at Fleishers, the company widely credited with reviving the American retail butcher shop and championing contemporary standards of social and environmental responsibility in meat sourcing. Sam eventually led Fleishers as the company’s COO and CEO, overseeing 100 employees across five retail shops, two cafés, a USDA processing facility, and a butchery training school. Since starting her consulting business in 2018, Sam has helped start a vertically-integrated poultry company in Northwest Arkansas, evaluated and revamped a Hudson River Valley distributor’s whole-animal purchasing program, led the post-COVID strategic planning process for a non-profit food business incubator in Boston, and developed regulatory and supply chain frameworks for the burgeoning domestic seaweed industry. Prior to working in sustainable food, Sam managed e-commerce and business analytics products for Endeca Technologies, a software start-up acquired by Oracle in 2011. She holds a BA in Information Science and Biology from Cornell University.
Nancy Irlbeck is a pig farmer’s daughter from Iowa. As a child she learned to care for animals working with her parents and siblings on the family farm. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Animal Science from Iowa State and a doctorate in Animal Nutrition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She taught animal nutrition at Colorado State University in Animal Sciences and later served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Agriculture. In her free time, Nancy started ANIROONZ Sheep Company, where she raised and bred seven rare wool-sheep breeds and Bourbon Red turkeys. Late in 2016, Nancy moved west to Idaho with her husband Steve and a “few” sheep. Now, she teaches animal nutrition at Washington State University and raises Karakul, Wensleydale, and Lincoln sheep. Nancy has lived abroad in Australia and New Zealand, and has worked in numerous countries. She serves on the Coordinating Committee for the National Animal Nutrition Program, a national USDA research collaboration. In her “free time” Nancy skirts fleeces and practices with her pitchfork.
Neil O’Sullivan is the President of Free Lay Technical Services, LLC, a company that specializes in consulting on cageless egg-production systems. Neil worked with Hy-Line International from 1991 to 2018 as the director of research and development. Hy-Line was the first company to market genomically-selected commercial layers, ensuring pedigrees were 100% correct and allowing a paradigm shift in poultry genetics for multi-overlapping generations to advance the rate of genetic gain. Neil grew up in a farming family in Ireland raising dairy, sheep, beef, and poultry. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s from University College Dublin and earned a Ph.D. in Poultry Genetics from Virginia Tech. He published more than 50 peer-reviewed research articles. Neil has owned, shown and bred Great Danes since 1978, including numerous American Kennel Club (AKC) champions. In addition to Great Danes, he has received worldwide recognition for breeding and showing Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. He has volunteered as Chair of the Great Dane Club of America Heath and Research committee for almost 20 years, served on the board of directors of the Great Dane Club of America for nine years, and currently serves as a Director of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America.
Marie Minnich is a physician, practicing in the field of Anesthesiology for more than 30 years. She received her BS in Biology from the University of Scranton after which she attended the Penn State University School of Medicine in Hershey, PA receiving her MD in 1980. She completed her residency in Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University and a fellowship in Obstetric Anesthesia at the University of Arkansas. She completed a Masters in Medical Management at Carnegie Mellon and an MBA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Marie grew up on a diversified family farm in northeastern Pennsylvania and became interested in fiber arts at a very early age. While learning to spin in 2007, Marie was introduced to the wonderful wool produced by the heritage Romeldale CVM sheep. This ultimately led to her decision to return to her farming roots. After acquiring their farm in early 2008, Marie started with a small flock of 15 sheep in December of that year. This is now the largest registered flock of Romeldale CVMs in the country. She has served as the Treasurer of the National Romeldale CVM Conservancy, Inc. since 2010. Marie currently resides in Danville, PA with her husband, 9 dogs, and 300+ sheep.
Sandra E. (Sandy) Nordmark
Sandra (Sandy) Nordmark grew up in west-central Michigan, where she spent as much time as she could on neighboring farms and developed a passion for animals, especially horses. Nearby farms allowed her to keep rabbits, chickens and a horse on their premises so that she could join a local 4-H club along with her “horsey” friends. She graduated college with an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology and eventually earned a PhD in Environmental Education & Administration. After gradation she acquired a small farm and was able to expand her single horse stable to a small group of Arabian part-breds and then added a pony so her family could follow the local show circuit and also do some trail riding and hill-topping with an area hunt club. After her kids left for college, she traded her university teaching and community advocacy efforts for governmental service and spent 30 years in administrative roles in public policy and strategic planning; grant writing and management of various nonprofits, agencies and tribal communities; and rural economic development. A small feeder cattle operation established on a second and larger farm some years before gave way to a commercial enterprise raising vegetables, herbs and edible flowers for the restaurant trade, which eventually led to her appointment to an advisory committee to the USDA and the Office of the US Trade Representative for international trade in horticulture in Washington, D.C. Her diverse background and varied lifestyle interests attracted her immediately to The Livestock Conservancy some years after she became aware of their work while visiting their exhibit at an agricultural exposition and meeting Dr. Don Bixby, an enthusiastic promoter of heritage breeds. The importance of protecting and enhancing the populations of heritage breeds of livestock and poultry such that priceless, irreplaceable genetics achieve and maintain sustainable levels easily became her “Next Best Thing!” and she joined and has continued to support their programs.
Lawrence E. Rushton left the small town of Marfa, Texas, and joined the United States Air Force where he traveled to two different states and three countries during his four-year tour of duty. After leaving the Air Force he returned to his studies and graduated with degrees in history and international studies from Texas A&M University. Following his undergraduate studies, he worked in the World Trade Section of the Greater Houston Partnership, where he promoted and facilitated international commerce for the City of Houston. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law Center. He is the founder and managing attorney at the Rushton Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Bellaire, Texas. The Rushton Law Firm’s primary area of practice is immigration law, ranging from political asylum, family visas to employment visas, and more. In his free time Lawrence loves to travel and has traveled extensively in Latin America. He is fluent in Spanish and English. Lawrence comes from a long line of farmers with a brief break in the twentieth century when his father and grandfather both served the nation in the military and in law enforcement. Lawrence, his wife, Viviana, daughter, Agatha and son, Ian, live on a farm in Grimes County, Texas, where they currently raise Delaware chickens, Spanish goats and Longhorn cattle. They are always looking for new opportunities to use heritage breeds on their farm
Tim Safranski grew up in the Columbia River gorge in Oregon on a small, diversified, livestock farm which provided him a unique perspective. A career in the animal industry was the goal, and hogs – Hereford Hogs among them – helped show him paths in that direction.Tim completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Oregon State University (while living in the sheep barn) and then made his way to the Midwest. He earned his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at the University of Missouri, then spent a couple years working for USDA-ARS in Clay Center Nebraska. In January 1996, Tim returned to Missouri, where he has served as the State Swine Breeding Specialist. Since returning to Missouri, he has led an integrated extension and research program in the areas of genetics, genetic conservation, and reproductive management in addition to teaching the Swine Production class at MU. He has presented in 25 states and on five continents on topics of swine genetics, reproduction, and management. He currently serves as Professor of Animal Science and State Swine Extension Specialist. Tim, his wife and four sons raise crossbred cattle, Katahdin sheep, American and Silver Fox rabbits, Standard Bronze turkeys, and various chicken breeds on 91 acres in Callaway County, Missouri.
Bud Wood is the owner and CEO of Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. Since 1917, McMurray Hatchery has remained dedicated to preserving rare and exotic poultry breeds, and working in partnership with The Livestock Conservancy is a critical component of that mission. For more than a century, the hatchery has maintained the genetic lines of many critically endangered poultry breeds and is continuing to add more. Today the hatchery carries nearly 75% of the breeds on the Conservation Priority List. Bud entered the poultry industry in the 1980s as a contract programmer for the hatchery. He joined the company as a partner in 2001. He served as president of the company and Chairman of the Bird Shippers of America, a consortium of mail-order hatcheries. Bud managed the company through many industry challenges, including the 9/11 shipping moratorium and airmail crisis, an avian influenza epidemic, and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Bud stepped down as president and passed the baton to his son-in-law, Tom Watkins. While still active within the hatchery, he is enjoying a slower pace, with time to work with civic, church, and industry organizations. He is also enjoying having more time for family, hobbies, and friends.
Wendell Berry has been a member of the Conservancy since 1986 and raises sheep and horses. He is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. According to him, the good life includes: sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life.
Ariane Daguin is the founder of D’Artagnan, the “leading purveyor of organic poultry, game, foie gras, pâtés, sausages, smoked delicacies, and wild mushrooms to the nation.” She is on the board of City Harvest, and active in The American Institute of Wine & Food and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. Recognized in 1994 by The James Beard Foundation “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America,” Ariane is now a member of the Awards Committee. In 2005, Ariane received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Bon Appetit Magazine, and in September 2006, she was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur. She is founding president of Les Nouvelles Mères Cuisinières, an international association of prestigious women chefs. She delivered the keynote address at the Conservancy’s 2013 conference in North Carolina.
Katya Ekimian is a young knitwear designer who focuses on wool, specifically those from heritage breeds of sheep. Her interest in the fiber lead her to find work on a wool farm where she was exposed to every step of the process from caring for and shearing sheep to knitting the finished spun product. Ekimian was awarded the 2019 Woolmark Scholarship.
Isabella Rosselini is best known as an actress and model, but she also lives on a farm on Long Island and raises goats, sheep, pigs, & Heritage chickens, grows organic vegetables, and produces honey and eggs. She recently published a children’s book My Chickens and I, describing her chickens to young readers and completed a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation. Local school groups sometimes visit the farm, where Isabella teaches them about the animals.
Antoine Westermann is an acclaimed French chef, who maintained a three-star Michelin rating at his Le Buerehiesel restaurant for over 31 years, before asking for them to be removed. He currently owns and operates the restaurant “Le Coq Rico” in Paris and opened a second location in New York City in 2016, which focuses on highlighting the flavor diversity of oft-overlooked heritage breeds of poultry through simple dishes, expertly prepared.