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:


Richard Browning, Ph.D.

Richard Browning, Ph.D. Richard 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 at .

Richard M. Blaney

Richard 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, 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 horse ranch located in Suwannee County near Live Oak, Florida."

Isabela Castaneda

Isabela 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. Currently they raise Romeldale CVM sheep. They also have 4 guard llamas, 2 horses, 2 dogs, 3 cats, chickens, and guinea fowl. Isabela has served as President of the National Romeldale CVM Conservancy since January 2015.

Andrew (Drew) Heltsley

Drew currently serves as the brand manager for Old Dominion Freight Line. Previously, Andrew worked on national marketing efforts for Tractor Supply Company where he began his involvement with the Livestock Conservancy and his passion for heritage livestock. In addition to his marketing experience, he brings a history of service to the nonprofit community including work with the boards of the Tennessee Conservation League, Nashville Area Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Spirit of Blue Foundation. Andrew lives with his wife and two children in Oak Ridge, NC.

Julie Gauthier

Julie Gauthier grew up in Michigan, where she studied at Michigan State University to become a veterinarian in 1993. While working in mixed animal practice in Florida and in Connecticut, she studied anthropology at the University of West Florida, and earned a Master’s degree in public health at Yale University. Since 2002, Julie has worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a veterinary epidemiologist, investigating livestock disease outbreaks within and outside of the United States. Chickcharney Farm is Julie Gauthier’s homestead in the North Carolina piedmont.  At the farm, Julie raises Delaware chickens, Narragansett and Beltsville small white turkeys, Magpie and Saxony ducks, Pilgrim geese, and myotonic goats. Along with preserving these heritage varieties of livestock, Julie’s mission is to show other homesteaders, through workshops, presentations, and farm tours, that these animals are not only fun and interesting to keep, but also productive and useful in small scale, sustainable agriculture. Julie is the author of the flock keeper’s self-help book Chicken Health for Dummies.

Gabrielle Gordon

Gabrielle Gordon grew up in a military family moving to different posts finally settling east of El Paso. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.S. In Wildlife Management and emphasis in Range Management. She was a Plant Protection Quarantine Officer for the USDA and had the opportunity to visit and work at several ports of entry. Later she became a Wildlife Inspector for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. She was fortunate to be selected for a short internship in mammal morphology at the Service's prestigious Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon. Over the past several years served as Officer and President of the North Texas Eventing Association, Director of The Hickory Creek Hunt, President of her local HOA, volunteering for several organizations, and currently Vice President of The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America. Gabrielle left government service to care for her family and now, after spending a year abroad studying in Japan, her daughter has recently entered Wellesley College, Class of  2017. She has owned Cleveland Bay horses near Fort Worth, Texas since 1998 and works diligently to raise awareness of Cleveland Bays and many rare domestic breeds.

Steve Kerns

The Kerns’ operation includes Kerns Farms Corp., a breeding stock operation supplying great grandparent genetics to breeders domestically and internationally, Mangalitsa Estates, the second largest Mangalitsa herd in North America, Heirloom Swine Farms, a purebred Heritage Berkshire herd supplying genetics and market pigs to Heritage Pork International, and International Boar Semen, North America’s oldest artificial insemination center.  They are marketing their Mangalitsa Gourmet Pork on the internet to consumers and to white table cloth chefs around the country. The Kerns produce Mangalitsa, Berkshire, Landrace, Large White, Duroc, and Musclor nucleus boars, gilts and pigs for niche markets. Steve consults with swine producers from several foreign countries as well as producers in this country. Steve has held numerous leadership positions in the Iowa Pork Producers Association, including a term as president in 2005. He's attended IPPA international marketing trips and serves on various committees on the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council. In 2000, he and Becky were honored with the IPPA’s Master Seedstock Producer Award. In addition to serving on the ISU animal science department's external advisory board, he's been a screening committee member for animal science faculty hires, and in 2009 was honored by the Iowa Pork Industry Center for his support as a member of the IPIC Advisory Board. Kerns also serves on an advisory research committee for the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine. He was inducted into the Iowa State University Animal Science Hall of Fame April 25, 2010. The Hall annually recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to the livestock industry and to Iowa State's Department of Animal Science.

Brian Larson

Brian comes from a family long connected with livestock breeding (sheep and cattle) and production.  All his ancestors were sheepmen from Norway for many generations. His mother was the primary shepherd for the flock in Minnesota during his childhood and he made numerous trips to the lambing barn before he could walk. Brian purchased his first two breeding ewes at the age of nine and has continued ever since with purebred and commercial sheep. Brian's Lincoln Longwool flock has been in existence for 34 years, starting with 3 foundation ewes from Oregon. They have kept about 20 white-fleeced mature ewes and a supporting cast of rams and young stock. The Larsons have bred LAI to three rams for the past four years that he had collected in the United Kingdom to enhance the traditional Lincoln characteristics in the United States’ genetic pool. Their emphasis has been promoting traditional Lincoln fleeces and the big volume Lincoln body type. They have promoted Lincolns at shows, exhibitions and fiber festivals. Social media is becoming a larger part of their promotion efforts. Both Brian and his wife, Jennifer, are PhD nutritionists originally trained in ruminant nutrition.  Both are currently working as consultants focusing on agriculture and nutrition (animal and human) with global agricultural, food / ingredient companies and non-governmental organizations. Brian is the recent past president of the National Lincoln Sheep Breeder’s Association. He has been associated with the Livestock Conservancy and its several prior names since the early 1990’s.
Mary McConnell

Mary Carter McConnell lives at Summer Duck Wood in Rapidan, VA, with her  pack of field trial setters and herd of Choctaw horses. Mary earned a BA from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Virginia. Mary is committed to a conservation breeding program with their Choctaw horses and are enjoying seeing them used in combined driving events, endurance competition, hunting, and jumping.

John Metzer

John owns and manages Metzer Farms, a waterfowl mail order hatchery located in the beautiful Central Coast area of California. He started the company in 1978, after graduating from the University of California, and he turned his father's hobby into a business. He breeds and hatches over 30 breeds of ducks and geese, with many being on the Livestock Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. Metzer Farms has a wide variety of customers: individual hobbyists, feed stores, commercial meat and egg producers, other hatcheries, and international breeders. Metzer has extensive experience working with other hatcheries and the U.S. Postal Service


Marie Minnich

Marie is a physician, practicing in the field of Anesthesiology for almost 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 CVM Romeldale 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 and currently has the largest flock of CVM Romeldales in the country. She has served as the Treasurer of the National CVM Conservancy, Inc. since 2010. Marie currently resides in Danville, PA with her husband, 3 dogs, and 300+ sheep.

Elaine Shirley

Elaine Shirley is manager of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Rare Breeds Program. As such, she works with many breeds including Leicester Longwool sheep, Milking Devon cattle, and Nankin chickens. Shirley was the 2009 recipient of the Conservancy’s Bixby-Sponenberg Conservation Award, has been a member of the Conservancy since 1987, and has previous experience serving on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Beth Tillman

Wanda E. “Beth” Tillman After years of research and conference attendance at ALBC, Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), and regional agricultural organizations, in 2011, Beth founded Firefly Farms with son, Dugan Tillman-Brown, focusing on rare breeds in a commercially viable setting. They humanely raise Dorking chickens, Mulefoot pigs, tri- and quad-heritage pigs, and, soon, Randall cattle on rotational pasture for land and forest restoration. Beth and family are developing a USDA certified poultry processing facility and drives all types of heavy equipment well and am proficient in pinching chain saws!! Beth has extensive (30years) Not-for-Profit experience in school, symphony, park, community centers and foundations serving on finance, building, development, marketing and governance committees. She is an activist for transparency in boards and government with strict adherence to by-laws and state statutes. Beth’s father was an internationally known Animal Scientist and Nutritionist. Thus she grew up raising cattle, horses and chickens and tons of produce. Beth is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and Louisiana, is an avid gardener, a sailor, and, best of all now, a farmer.


John Wilkes

John Wilkes spent the first half of his life raising cattle and sheep on the family farm in the English county of Shropshire, near the Welsh border.  Initially John worked with traditional livestock breeds like Clun Forest and Kerry Hill Sheep, British Friesian Dairy cattle, Welsh Black and South Devon beef cattle, Large Black pigs and Brecon Buff geese before adapting to market trends toward European breeds.
In addition to producing his own beef and lamb to exacting standards, John pioneered a livestock ultrasound pregnancy scanning service for more than 200 farmers all over the country. This afforded him a broader and deeper insight into the UK livestock sector. After selling the farm John had a sea change and moved to Cornwall in Southwest England. There he launched a successful residential property development business and opened and operated a new Fish & Chips restaurant concept. Then he married an American, and the rest, as they say, is geography. In the two and a half years since he moved to the US, John has traveled the country extensively, consulting, speaking and writing about farming. And, in addition to giving US farmers the benefit of his experience as a co-producer/presenter of The Farm Report on Heritage Radio Network, John is still a regular contributor to The Farmers Guardian UK. Even with broad knowledge of modern commercial livestock farming, John’s passion for the breeding and conservation of traditional livestock remains undiminished.

Judy Wollen

Judy Wollen is a retired resource development specialist who loves to tell stories. Her fundraising experience includes working in the US and abroad with charitable organizations and professional associations. With a degree from Kansas State University in Family and Child Development, Judy has always seen livestock in terms of their nutritional and socio/economic impact on the well-being of families. Terry and Judy Wollen have two children and four grandchildren, and plan to establish a small farm during 2014 for the dual purpose of raising rare breed livestock and enticing grandkids to visit. Judy appreciates the value of genetic diversity in general, and conserving rare livestock breeds in particular.

Mark Williams

Combining a passion for two of the greatest pleasures in life, fine food and beverages, has been a recipe for success for Brown-Forman’s Executive Chef Mark Williams. Growing up in the South in a family whose background includes restaurateurs and cattle farmers, Mark began his formal culinary training with an American Culinary Federation apprenticeship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. During his apprenticeship, he also attended Georgia State University, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Administration. After completing his apprenticeship, Mark joined the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta as the chef at The Fish Market in Lenox Square, which received five Best of Atlanta awards while he was the chef. An interest in exploring food and wine pairing led Mark to Napa Valley, California, where he became the sous chef at The School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards. After leaving Beringer, he became chef in residence at Sonoma – Cutrer Winery and also catered events for many Napa Valley clients, including winemaker Robert Mondavi and film director Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”). He also worked as a chef for film director George Lucas (“Star Wars”) at the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Since coming to Brown-Forman as Executive Chef in 2001, Mark Williams has become perhaps as well known for his environmental and community work as he is for his cooking. His position with the company provides him opportunity to share his passion for educating others about positive actions that can be taken in order to build a more sustainable society based around our food choices. Created organic and heirloom vegetable garden on Brown-Forman campus, comprised of 400 Bourbon barrel planter, that provide vegetable, herbs and flowers for the Bourbon Street Café at Brown-Forman. Also a Slow Food regional governor for five southern states, he was the founder and leader of the Slow Food Bluegrass convivium, part of the Slow Food international movement to support sustainable local food and celebrate traditional regional cuisine. Through his work with the Slow Food Ark of Taste committee for the Southern region, he became very involved with preserving and promoting rare and endangered breeds, especially the Bourbon Red Turkey in Kentucky. This work garnered him an invitation to demonstrate cooking rare breeds at the Livestock Conservancy annual conference in Pittsboro, NC. He is a founding member of the Napa Valley Culinary Alliance, and is a current member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and The Southern Foodways Alliance. He serves on the board of advisors for Partners for Family Farms and Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality.