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About Us - National Advisory Board

Jason Bailey
Research and Policy Director, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development
Jason Bailey is the Research and Policy Director, at Mountain Association of Community Economic Development. Jason joined MACED’s staff in September 2007 after working as a research consultant to the organization for several years. From 1998-2005, he was a staff person and then co-director of the Democracy Resource Center, a former MACED affiliate. Jason’s work there included policy analysis and public education on Kentucky’s budget, tax system and economic development policies, as well as research on a variety of state and local issues. Jason has a master’s in public administration with a specialization in public finance from New York University.

Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy
Tom Buis has recently been appointed as the CEO of Growth Energy, a new, proactive group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America's economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Mr. Buis served as president of the National Farmers’ Union since 2006. Prior to joining NFU, Buis served as senior agriculture policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), in addition to serving other members of Congress. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C. in 1987, Buis was a full-time grain and livestock farmer in Putnam and Morgan Counties in West Central Indiana with his brothers, who continue to operate the family farm.

Matthew Chase
Executive Director, National Association of Counties
Matthew D. Chase began serving as Executive Director of the National Association of Counties (NACo) in September 2012. Prior to becoming NACo’s fifth executive director, Matt served nearly a decade as executive director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), which represents local government-based regional planning and development organizations. He previously served as the organization’s legislative affairs director and deputy executive director. He began his career with the Professional Managers Association, serving as membership services director and chief operating officer.

Dudley Cocke
Director, Roadside Theater
Dudley Cocke, director of Roadside Theater, is a stage director, teacher, writer, and media producer. He recently directed Betsy, a Roadside collaboration with Nashville jazz musicians and New York’s Pregones Theater. Under Mr. Cocke’s direction, Roadside has toured its original plays to 43 states and performed in big cities from London to Los Angeles. He has taught theater at Cornell University, the College of William and Mary, and New York University, and often speaks and writes as an advocate for democratic cultural values. His policy remarks and essays have been published by the Urban Institute, Yale University, American Theatre magazine, Americans for the Arts, Grantmakers in the Arts, and the Community Arts Network/Art in the Public Interest, among many others. Mr. Cocke was executive producer of Roadside’s latest CD, "Wings to Fly" (Copper Creek Records), and has produced several of Roadside’s plays for public television. He received his B.A. from Washington & Lee University; his graduate work was conducted at Harvard University. He is a recipient of the 2002 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities. He lives in Norton, Virginia.

Sam Cordes
Professor and Associate Vice Provost, Emeritus, Center for Regional Development, Purdue University
Sam Cordes joined Purdue University in 2003 and has two roles: Assistant Director of Extension and Co-Director of the Center for Regional Development. His career in higher education has focused on rural policy and community and economic development. He is a native of South Dakota and received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University and his PhD in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University. Prior to joining Purdue University he held faculty and various administrative roles at the University of Nebraska and the University of Wyoming, and was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He began his academic career as a faculty member at Penn State University. Cordes is listed in Who's Who in the Midwest and was the 1996 recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award from the National Rural Health Association; and in 1999, he received the Founders Award from the Rural Policy Research Institute. In 2000, he was selected by the Graduate School of Washington State University as the first recipient of its Graduate Alumni Achievement Award; and in 2002, he received the Distinguished Alumni award from South Dakota State University.

John Cromartie
Geographer, Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture
John Cromartie, a geographer with the USDA Economic Research Service, Resource and Rural Economics Division, conducts research on rural migration, population distribution, and the effects of demographic change on rural well-being. As an expert on rural definitions, John has developed new classification schemes and briefed policymakers on definitions used in USDA's rural development programs. He serves as a consultant to the Office of Management and Budget on metropolitan area definitions and the American Community Survey. John is visiting lecturer in the Department of Geography, George Washington University, where he teaches a class on Population Geography. His current work is understanding rural definitions, migration of baby boomers and its impact on Rural America, return migration to geographically disadvantaged rural counties and the geography of ethanol production in Rural America. John holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. John is a member of the Association of American Geographers, and from 2002-2003 was President of the AAG's Population Specialty Group.

Dee Davis
President, Center for Rural Strategies
Dee Davis is the founder and president of the Center for Rural Strategies. Dee has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on topics as diverse as commercial television programming and federal banking policy. Dee began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Kentucky. As Appalshop's executive producer, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development. Dee formally served as president and chairman of the board of the Independent Television Service, president of Kentucky Citizens for the Arts, and as a panelist and consultant to numerous private and public agencies. Dee is a member of the Rural Advisory Committee of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the boards of directors of Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Appalshop, Fund for Innovative Television, and Feral Arts of Brisbane, Australia. He is also a member of the Institute for Rural Journalism’s national advisory board. He received an English degree from the University of Kentucky. Dee lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Michelle Decker
Executive Director, Rural Action
Michele Decker is the executive director of Rural Action. Rural Action’s mission is to foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio working for a region of clean streams, healthy forests, thriving family farms, meaningful jobs for everyone, lively towns that remember local history and celebrate their stories, music, arts, and crafts, and people working together to make this vision a reality. Rural Action builds model sustainable development projects and encourages a broad civic conversation around Appalachian Ohio’s assets in order to create sustainable development paths for the region. Michele has recently moved back to Ohio from Baltimore, MD.

John Gardner
Vice President for Economic Development & Extension, Washington State University
John Gardner is the Vice President of Economic Development and Extension at Washington State University since its creation in July of 2007. Having worked in both universities and business, Dr. Gardner leads the effort which links private, public, and philanthropic partners to better leverage all of WSU’s assets for economic growth and vitality of the state. Gardner is a native of the Kansas City area where he earned degrees in agriculture and agronomy at Kansas State University, and a PhD at the University of Nebraska in plant physiology. His US-AID funded graduate work focused on the sorghum/millet program INTSORMIL directed at Africa and India. He then moved north to Carrington, North Dakota, and spent much of his twenty years there as Director of the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center. His work on the domestication of new crops led to business interests throughout the 1990’s and he became one of the founders and chief executive of AgGrow Oils, a 540-member LLC that integrated the production, processing, and marketing of both novel and designer oilseeds. Just prior to WSU, Gardner spent six years at the University of Missouri as the Associate Dean/Director for Research and Outreach in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources after which he became the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, a position similar to that he currently holds at WSU.

Martin Goebel
President, Sustainable Northwest
Martin Goebel is the founding President of Sustainable Northwest. He has been responsible for initiating most of its community sustainability partnerships in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California. He spearheaded the early-stage design of Sustainable Northwest’s Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership and its sustainability finance initiatives and serves as the principal liaison with Sustainable Northwest’s board and donors. Born and raised in Mexico in a tri-cultural environment, Martin received a Bachelor's Degree in Forestry at Oregon State University, and a Master's Degree at Texas A&M University in Natural Resources Conservation and Development. In his early career Martin worked for the National Park Service as a seasonal ranger at Crater Lake National Park. He has also practiced community forestry with the forest service of Mexico. His international conservation career began with The Nature Conservancy’s International Program as assistant director for science. He later helped found and worked at Conservation International as its Mexico Program director, a position he also held subsequently at World Wildlife Fund. Martin endeavors to promote environmental and sustainable development values and practice, ecosystem-level conservation initiatives that build local capacity, foster responsible market and business practices, and foster healthy, long-term partnership between government agencies, non-profit organizations, research institutions, grassroots community groups, private enterprise, bi- and multi-lateral development agencies, and philanthropies.

Jane Henderson
President, Virginia Community Capital
Jane Henderson is currently the president of Virginia Community Capital, a community development financial institution, providing innovative and flexible financing in Virginia. Formerly, Jane was the director of the community development group for Wachovia Corporation from 1996 to June 2005. During her leadership, Wachovia's community development program grew to $25 billion annually in loans and investments. She created a specialized community development finance team that currently provides loans and investment expertise throughout Wachovia's markets. She began her banking career in 1981 with Meridian Bancorp, joined Dominion in 1988, and then served as VP and community reinvestment manager for First Union when it merged with Dominion in 1993. Jane received a master's degree in finance from St. Joseph's University, a Certified Risk Professional designation from the Bank Administration Institution, and graduated from the CBA Graduate School of Retail Bank Management and the ABA Credit Card Management School. She serves on various community and banking boards and committees.

Sarah Hicks
Director, Policy Research Center, National Congress of American Indians
Sarah L. Hicks (Alutiiq) is an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie and the director of the Policy Research Center at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest, largest, and most representative national Indian organization representing the broad interests of tribal governments in the United States. Her work with American Indian and Alaska Native governments and intertribal organizations addresses the need for information and data to support proactive tribal policy development at the national and local level. Previously, Sarah served as the director of NCAI’s welfare reform program. In 2002, she testified before the Senate on proposed human service delivery reform in Indian Country. She has been the recipient of many awards, including the Lynn Reyer Award in Tribal Community Development, the Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Association, and the Kathryn M. Buder Scholarship for American Indian Students. She holds a BA in sociology from Goucher College and a master's in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also received a Ph.D. in philosophy in May 2008. Her dissertation is entitled Determinants and Variation of Large Foundations’ Grantmaking to Native America.

Roger Johnson
President, National Farmers Union
Prior to leading the family farm organization, Johnson, a third-generation family farmer from Turtle Lake, N.D., served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, a position he was first elected to in 1996. While Agriculture Commissioner, Johnson served on the State Industrial Commission, the North Dakota Trade Office Advisory Board, and the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education, among many other boards and commissions. From 2007-2008, Johnson served as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). As NASDA president, he played a key role in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill. Johnson is a past president of the Midwestern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (MASDA), past president of the Food Export Association of the Midwest and a former chairman of the Interstate Pest Control Compact. Johnson grew up in Farmers Union, participating in the organization’s youth programs, serving as a county president and chairman of the board of a local Farmers Union cooperative. Johnson graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural economics.

Craig Kennedy
President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Craig Kennedy has been president of the German Marshall Fund since 1995. Under Mr. Kennedy’s leadership, GMF has focused its activities on bridging U.S.–European differences on foreign policy, economics, immigration and the environment. An aspect of that strategy includes supporting over twenty American and European policy research institutions that are actively involved in shaping transatlantic cooperation. Expanding GMF’s capacities as a public policy institution has one of Mr. Kennedy’s major achievements. Toward this effort, he has provided GMF with a strong infrastructure throughout Europe, opening new offices in Paris, Bratislava, Brussels, Belgrade, and Ankara to complement the work being done in Washington and Berlin. Another key program, the Transatlantic Fellows program, was begun under Mr. Kennedy’s direction and provides outstanding journalists, policy analysts, and academics an opportunity to pursue their research and writing interests in one of GMF’s offices. Mr. Kennedy began his career in 1980 as a program officer at the Joyce Foundation in Chicago and was president from 1986 to 1992, building the Foundation’s environmental program and launching a new program on U.S. immigration policy. Mr. Kennedy left the Joyce Foundation to work for Richard J. Dennis, a Chicago investor and philanthropist. During this same period, Mr. Kennedy created a consulting firm working with nonprofit and public sector clients. Mr. Kennedy serves on the Board of the nonprofit Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the European Foundation Center, and as an independent trustee of the Van Kampen mutual funds.

Thomas Mitchell
Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School
Thomas W. Mitchell is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He has done extensive work and research on how land tenure regimes impact poor and minority communities. With his research team that includes two real estate economists and a graduate student expert in geographic information systems technology, he is currently working on a Ford Foundation-funded book project that will address the economic, civic and social impacts of black land loss in the rural South. At Wisconsin, he directs the Community Development Externship program. This program places law students with public interest law firms and community-based organizations located in poor, urban and rural communities in the U.S. and the Caribbean to do legal work that assists these communities with asset-based community development initiatives. Recent externs have worked on projects that have addressed discriminatory zoning laws, affordable housing issues, prisoner reentry initiatives, and environmental justice. Externs have recently been placed at sites that include California Rural Legal Services in the Central Valley of California; Bethel New Life in the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago; and the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques in Puerto Rico. Professor Mitchell serves on the American Bar Association's Property Preservation Task Force and also serves as vice-president of the board of directors of Farmers' Legal Action Group, the leading public interest law firm in the United States that represents the interests of family farmers. Prior to entering academia, Professor Mitchell obtained an LL.M. upon completion of the William H. Hastie Fellowship program at the University of Wisconsin Law School; worked as a litigation associate at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.; and served as a law clerk for Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District Court of the D.C. Circuit.

Alan Morgan
Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Health Association
Alan Morgan is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association. Morgan joined the NRHA staff in 2001. He serves as a policy resource for the national media, as well as a presenter at both national and state health conferences. He has more than 17 years experience in health policy development at the state and federal levels. He has worked for former U.S. Congressman Dick Nichols and former Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden. Alan's health policy articles have been published in multiple health journals. Alan earned an M.P.A. from George Mason University and a B.S. in journalism from University of Kansas.

Thomas Payne (chair)
Vice Chancellor & Dean, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, University of Missouri
Thomas L. Payne has served as vice chancellor for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri, Columbia, since Jan. 1, 1999. His leadership at MU has contributed to growth in the College's research programs, recruitment of world-class faculty members, and an increase in private funds raised in support of the College. After receiving his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his master's and doctoral degrees in entomology and physiological psychology from the University of California, Riverside, in 1969, Payne joined the faculty in Texas A&M University's departments of Entomology and Forest Science (1969-1987). Dean Payne was professor and head of entomology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1987-1993) before becoming the Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences associate vice president for agricultural administration, associate dean for research, and director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (1993-1998). Dean Payne has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Agriculture Future of America Board, the Board of Agribank, the Board of the Entomological Foundation and the Governor's Advisory Committee on Agriculture in Missouri.

Marlene Seltzer
President, Jobs for the Future
Marlene Seltzer is nationally recognized in the workforce development field, with over 20 years of practical experience in policy and program delivery at the national, state and local levels. Ms. Seltzer is the senior advisor for Job for the Future’s (JFF) body of work that focuses on increasing economic opportunity for low-income workers. These projects include SkillWorks: Partners for a Productive Workforce and Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count. SkillWorks is a five-year, public/private partnership that has come together to address the gap between the needs of Boston-area employers for more skilled workers and of workers for more accessible jobs that pay a family-supporting wage. JFF plans and manages the initiative. JFF is one of ten national partners in Achieving the Dream, a national initiative that promotes change to improve student success at community colleges. The initiative works on multiple fronts—including efforts at community colleges and in research, public engagement, and public policy—and emphasizes the use of data to drive change. Prior to joining Jobs for the Future, Ms. Seltzer held a number of prominent positions in non-profit management, government, and the field of workforce development. From 1987 to 1989, she was Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Employment and Training, after serving as deputy commissioner for four years. Ms. Seltzer is a member of the board of directors for WomenWork!, a national policy and advocacy organization working for the economic equity and advancement of women.

Louis Swanson
Vice Provost, Outreach & Strategic Partnerships, Colorodo State University
Lou Swanson has been Colorado State University Vice Provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships since 2006 and with the University since 1997. He has taught in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kentucky and has been a resident Scholar with the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy of Resources for the Future. Dr. Swanson was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia from 1971-74. Lou has his Ph.D. in Rural Sociology from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of International Studies, North Carolina State University and a B.A from St. Andrews Presbyterian College.

Wendy Wintersteen
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State University
Wendy Wintersteen has served as the dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Experiment Station at Iowa State University since Jan. 1, 2006. Previously, she served as the senior associate dean and associate director of the Experiment Station from 2000-2005 and as director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension from 1995 to 2000. As Senior Associate Dean and Associate Director, Wintersteen was responsible for budget planning for the College of Agriculture and the Experiment Station. In addition, she works closely with the agricultural associations and commodity boards. As a faculty member, Wintersteen coordinated the activities of the Pest Management and Environment Program, which seeks to reduce the health and environmental risks of pesticide applications. Her extension research interests focused on the development and assessment of pest management strategies including the environmental economic injury level and measuring IPM adoption levels. Wintersteen received her bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1978 from Kansas State University and her doctorate in entomology in 1988 from Iowa State University. She has received numerous awards including the Early Achievement in Extension Award from the Iowa State University Foundation (1993), Outstanding Extension/Regulatory Display, Entomological Society of America (1994), USDA and EPA Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service and dedication in establishing the national program for the certification and training of pesticide applicators (1999) and Honorary Member, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association (2000).

Martin Wiseman
Director & Professor, Stennis Institute of Government, Mississippi State University
William Martin Wiseman is Director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Professor of Political Science at Mississippi State University. He received his Ph.D. in 1986, his MPPA in 1980, his MS in 1974m and his BA in 1973, all awarded from Mississippi State University. In addition to his duties at Mississippi State, Dr. Wiseman is a guest professor at Jackson State University. Dr. Wiseman’s areas of academic interest include American government, intergovernmental relations and federalism, county and municipal management, public personnel administration, and innovations in state and local government management. Wiseman is a sought-after speaker on state and local government, state and local politics, political theory and rural development. Often a guest editorial writer in Mississippi daily and weekly newspapers, he can also be relied upon to evaluate federal, state and local election results for all media.

Jeffrey Yost
President & CEO, Nebraska Community Foundation
Jeff Yost is the President and CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation. He joined NCF in 1998 and became President and CEO in 2003. NCF is heralded as a national model for its innovative work in empowering community leadership, non-profit capacity building, estimating the intergenerational transfer of wealth to craft community endowment building goals and linking charitable giving to building greater economic opportunity through entrepreneurship. On topics ranging from community foundations to rural economic development to public-private partnerships, Yost provides lectures and consulting services throughout the U.S. and internationally. Leadership positions Yost presently holds include serving as a co-founder and chair of the HomeTown Competitiveness collaborative (HTC is an award winning community economic development framework), Nebraska representative on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Community Development Advisory Council, a member of the RUPRI (Rural Policy Research Institute) National Advisory Board, a member of the CF Leads Board and serves on several local and statewide advisory committees. Yost is also past chair of Council on Foundations’ CEO network, served on the Council on Foundations’ national task force on community leadership and as adjunct faculty for the University of Nebraska–Department of Public Administration. Prior to joining NCF, Yost served five years as a policy advisor to Nebraska Governor Ben Nelson. Yost received bachelor’s degrees in economics and agricultural business from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has also completed coursework toward a master’s degree in economics.

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