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:

 

Brian Larson (Chair)
Brian comes from a family long connected with livestock breeding (sheep and cattle) and production.  Many of his ancestors were sheepmen from Norway for 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 for 60 years ever since with purebred and commercial sheep. Brian's Lincoln Longwool flock was in existence for 35 years, starting with 3 foundation ewes from Oregon. They kept about 20 white-fleeced mature ewes and a supporting cast of rams and young stock. The Larsons bred their ewes via LAI to rams that he had semen-collected in the United Kingdom to enhance the traditional Lincoln characteristics in the United States’ gene pool. Their emphasis was promoting traditional Lincoln fleeces and the big volume Lincoln body type. They promoted Lincolns at shows, exhibitions and fiber festivals. Although the flock has been dispersed across the continental United States, Brian is still active in promoting artificial insemination to UK sires and the sale of Lincoln Longwool fleece products. Social media is a large 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 a 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. Brian and Jennifer , currently residents of Michigan, but are in the process of building a new home in rural Madison County in the western North Carolina mountains.
 
   

Patricia Johnston (Vice-Chair)
Pat Johnston has wide ranging experience in the non-profit world, from starting three substantial non-profits herself and raising millions of dollars to build a live performance theater in Helper, Utah as an economic development project, to her current role as chair of the Afton Press board.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Akhal-Teke Association of America, where she is currently driving a couple of preservation projects for this ancient and “threatened” horse breed, including updating and developing an independent, robust database, and a frozen semen bank.  Both are long term projects. Pat is also an Akhal-Teke breeder with her husband, Kevin Matthews, at Swan Farm Akhal-Tekes, their ranch in Oregon. She has a dual degree in range management and wildlife science and has worked professionally in both areas. Currently Pat works in the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), overseeing landscape scale native plant community restoration projects and a native seed collection program. She has worked with wildlife reintroduction projects and threatened and endangered species mitigation. Working in collaboration, to achieve significant goals, is the story of her career.  She believes nurturing the human relationships are essential to build effective teams and partnerships. In 2015 she was the principle author of the BLM’s national strategic plan for Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution.

Isabela Castaneda (Treasurer)
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 and raising Romeldale CVM sheep. Isabela served as President of the National Romeldale CVM Conservancy from Jan 2015 to Dec 2016.
 
   
Heather Loomis (Secretary)
Heather Loomis is a full-time farmer, managing a 135 acre, fifth generation farm in the northern tier of Pennsylvania.  Her work includes raising a flock of 50 Romeldale CVM sheep, as well as fostering clients for a growing wool and meat business.  The flock is managed using sustainable methods which includes rotational grazing.  In addition, Heather operates a 12 acre, Certified Naturally Grown orchard and seasonal on-farm store. When she and her husband David took over the farm, all areas of the operation were being managed conventionally.  With continued education, time and tenacity they have restored the farm to a healthy ecology in which the orchard, flock, and soil support each other. Prior to a career shift into agriculture in 2005, she served for six years as Administrative Assistant to the Department of Music at Susquehanna University where she had previously earned her Bachelor of Arts degree.  A lifelong musician, Heather instructs students in beginning piano and guitar.  For the past several years she has directed the marketing efforts of the National Romeldale CVM Conservancy and currently serves as their President.
 
   

Gloria Basse
Gloria 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
Silas Bernardoni was raised on Roller Coaster Farm and lives with his 2 children and wife in rural WI. He studied Industrial and System Engineering and did his graduate research on the implementation of disruptive technology.  His off-farm job is being an engineer and project manager, working with energy utilities across the country to implement energy efficiency programs.  After going to school and working abroad, Silas decided to return to Wisconsin to start a family and apply his professional skills by co-operating Roller Coaster Farm alongside his parents and two grown siblings.  Roller Coaster Farm is firmly committed to a holistic approach that exclusively utilizes Heritage breeds (cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens) and combines pre-industrial methodologies with modern technology, research, and a data driven approach to management.  While not married to any specific breed (though he does have a soft spot for Salmon Faverolle chickens), his focus has been to improve the performance of heritage breeds to maintain their genetics as viable production animals that can compete economically with commercial breeds.  He and his family have been active in Livestock Conservancy and many national breed associations for as long as he can remember.

 

 

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, 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
 

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 http://www.tnstate.edu/faculty/rbrowning/
 
   

Jay “Jerry” Calvert
A seasoned commercial litigator, Jerry handles large, high-profile business disputes, including matters involving antitrust, intellectual property, and securities law, and healthcare and regulatory issues. His clients range from global enterprises in the airline, banking, and pharmaceutical fields, to those in the oil, healthcare, life sciences, and electric utility industries. Jerry is a Senior Counsel at Morgan Lewis; he has 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.

 

David Day
David lives in Noblesville, Indiana on a small farm where his family raises Lincoln sheep, a heritage breed recognized as threatened by The Livestock Conservancy.  As part of owning sheep for nearly 30 years, David has been active in local, state and national sheep organizations. In his work life, David is the managing partner of Church, Church, Hittle & Antrim, a general practice law firm consisting of over 40 lawyers (ee www.cchalaw.com). David represents primarily Indiana public school districts and family-owned businesses. David has been active in his community and currently serves on the Board of Conner Prairie, an interactive history park located in Fishers, Indiana with a program dedicated to preserving rare breeds (www.connerprairie.org). David and his wife, Brenda, have three children and seven grandchildren. He is a native of Indiana, received a bachelor of science degree in education from Ball State University in 1973 and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1977.

 
Cindy Dvergsten
Cindy 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 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 NM. She started with heritage turkeys and chickens; and then Navajo-Churro Sheep in 2004. Today she has 30 registered sheep. Two-thirds of the lambs sell as breeding stock and the rest as grass-fed lamb. They also market 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, being 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.
 
 

Adam P. Dixon
Adam 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.

 

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 and controlling livestock disease outbreaks within and outside of the United States. Until 2017, Julie owned and managed Chickcharney Farm, a rare breed demonstration farm in the North Carolina piedmont.  Over the years, Julie has raised, processed, and marketed heritage breed poultry, sheep and goats. Along with preserving heritage varieties of livestock, Julie’s mission has been 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.

 
Andrew (Drew) Heltsley
Andrew 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.
 
   
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 has 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 Iowa State University 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.
 
   

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.

 
   
Lawrence E. Rushton
Lawrence 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.
 
   

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 continued to raise the farm’s traditional livestock – Clun Forest and Kerry Hill Sheep, Welsh Black and South Devon beef cattle, Large Black pigs and Brecon Buff geese. Economies of scale then saw a move away from heritage livestock to commercial breeds. In hindsight, this is something John regrets. After selling part of the farm in 2001 John had a sea change and moved down to Cornwall in Southwest England. He developed property and ultimately opened a high-profile city center traditional British fish and chip shop! Then, he married an American, and the rest, as they say, is geography. John now consults and writes about commercial US livestock production. His column, View From the Hill in UK Farmers Guardian gives the British agricultural industry insight into US trade and farming issues. John enjoys a small role with UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust as their North America Ambassador. He feels this genuine and warm spirit of cooperation between with The Livestock Conservancy and RBST holds benefit and value for both organizations. Though his work embraces mostly commercial livestock John’s passion for older heritage/traditional farm livestock remains undiminished on both sides of the Atlantic.  In his view “There’s room and need for both”.

 
Brice Yocum
Brice is a committed member of The Livestock Conservancy and has been fascinated with farm animals as long as he can remember. His parents introduced him to James Herriot as a boy, watching the BBC series, “All Creatures Great And Small.” His love for the small family farm has never waned. He and his wife Erin have continued a five-generation legacy of farming on their 17-acre heirloom walnut farm in Central California. They have three daughters who have been actively involved with the farm chores, sometimes even willingly.  After returning to the Central Valley from law school in 2008, they started Sunbird Farms. They raise rare, heritage poultry for food and fun, which they share with their customers across the country. Brice is a licensed attorney, former higher-ed. administrator and faculty member and now leads Tucoemas Federal Credit Union. A self-titled “gentleman farmer,” Brice is passionate about good food and good farming and believes heritage livestock have an important part to play in both. You can see some of what the Yocum’s do at www.sunbirdfarms.com.