2020 MFMA Annual Conference Speaker Bios
Bill Boutang is serving as President of the MFMA and has served on the MFMA BOD since 2012. Bill and his wife Sandi Weller grow vegetables and formerly raised broilers and laying hens in Balsam Township, Aitkin County selling their “from the farm products” as members of the Grand Rapids MN Farmers’ Market since 2004. Bill has served as the VP of the GRFM BOD since 2010. In 2014 Bill accepted the position of Market Manager of the Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market at the request of the membership and the BOD. In his leadership roles for the GRFM he was deeply involved in bringing SNAP to the Grand Rapids Farmers Market in 2012 and further developing a very strong Food Assistance program and a wildly popular POP program. Bill also worked on relocating the market site in 2014 and 2018.
Ashley Bress oversees grantmaking in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Ag Marketing and Development Division. In this capacity, she is responsible for the MDA’s investments in schools, farmers, value-added businesses, researchers, and non-profit organizations, as well as programs that improve local food access. Prior to coming to the MDA, Ashley worked at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service where she worked on policy for programs that provide food to schools, food banks, and Tribal communities. Ashley has an undergraduate degree from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA, and a Masters in Public Policy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Jesse Davis is Member Services Director for the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association.
Elizabeth Day is market manager of the Four Sisters Farmers' Market, Minneapolis.
Kim Guenther was hired as the Director of Communications for the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association in March of 2018. She is also the coordinator of the Marshall Farmers’ Market in Southwest Minnesota, and an administrator for dual credit programs at Southwest Minnesota State University. Prior to returning to Minnesota in 2010, she served as the Director of Communications at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo, where she was in charge of daily operations of a multi-faceted communications office. With significant experience in marketing and design, Kim looks to work collaboratively with MFMA staff and constituents to enhance marketing strategies and support Minnesota markets. Kim received her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communications from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa and her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Kim and her husband Christian live in Marshall with their three sons.
Cheryal Hills joined Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) in 2006 and has delivered over 25 years of experience in community and economic development in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Cheryal currently provides oversight of over $3 million in project, levy, and grant annual income via delivery of 5 lending programs, transportation initiatives, renewable energy, broadband, and local food projects/programs. Cheryal has worked with dozens of Federal, State, and philanthropic partners to secure multi-millions of investments that address regional critical issues. Cheryal is a certified Core4 instructor for entrepreneurial training and her experience includes co-ownership of a telecommunications company for over 26 years. In 2018 Cheryal became a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessments to improve regional cultural competency. Via Cheryal’s leadership, R5DC is a nationally recognized one of 6 Hub experts on delivery of the WealthWorks evaluation model.
Rachel Holmes joined Hunger Solutions in March 2015 as a Minnesota Food Helpline Associate. Rachel graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Science and is an strong advocate for social programs that equip Minnesotans with the resources they need for success. Prior to joining us, she was a passionate volunteer with Dress for Success, an organization helping women to enter the workforce with style and confidence. Rachel keeps busy with a constant stack of reading books, her 3 beautiful nieces, and a mischievous tabby cat named Dan.
Annalisa Hultberg is a statewide Extension Educator in Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, where she co-coordinates the On-Farm GAPs Education Program and has worked since 2011 providing practical, science-based farm food safety education to farmers around Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. She works with small to large scale fruit and vegetable farmers, farm to school programs, food hubs, agricultural professionals and others to provide outreach and technical assistance to ensure a safe, healthy supply of local food for all through the use of GAPs. She is the state lead for the North Central Region FSMA Training center and leads the UMN Extension’s outreach efforts around the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
David Kern is co-founder of Because Collective, LLC. He is a general and digital marketing specialist, website developer, and photographer. He has built and designed websites and advised on digital campaigns for a wide range of businesses and nonprofits, including museums, service organizations, and commercial and consumer product lines. Recent work includes websites for two national produce companies. David works with clients to create strong and effective web presences that will increase their visibility and reach. In his downtime, David enjoys cheering his son’s football team, reading philosophy, and perfecting his curries and baked bread.
Rosemary Lien is part of the MN Department of Human Services Economic Assistance and Employment Supports Division. Part of her job responsibilities is providing support to SNAP EBT at farmers' markets.
Emily Lund is the executive director of Neighborhood Roots, the organization that operates three Minneapolis farmers' Markets: Fulton, Kingfield, and Nokomis. Emily also serves on the Minnesota Farmers' Market Association's Board of Directors.
Pam McCarthy-Kern is co-founder of Because Collective, LLC. A marketing communications strategist and event designer who has crafted media relations campaigns on local, national, and international levels, and planned and designed events for companies and nonprofits large and small. She spent her early childhood living on her family’s farm in Kansas and has had a lifelong passion for agriculture, homegrown food, and rural communities. Pam has conducted media relations work for numerous agriculture-related clients including the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market, The Good Acre, Lakewinds Food Co-Op, Renewing the Countryside and the Farmland Access Hub, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), Izaak Walton League of America for the 2013 Farm Bill, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Pam is a proud football mom and resides with her family in Minneapolis.
Robbi Mixon is the Local Foods Director for Cook Inletkeeper, a regional environmental protection non-profit, where she directs the Alaska Farmers' Market Association and the Alaska Food Hub. She has also directed the Homer Farmers' Market for the last 10 years and is the newly named first-ever Executive Director for the statewide Alaska Food Policy Council. Cook Inletkeeper is a community-based nonprofit organization that combines advocacy, education, and science toward its mission to protect Alaska's Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains.
David Nicholson is a consultant for the Minnesota Department of Health, offering technical assistance to farmers' markets, particularly with the food access government programs.
Joe Nowak is a PhD candidate in Natural Resources Science and Management at the University of Minnesota. He has managed the Twin Cities Metro Farmers’ Market Metric Project since 2016.
Thom Petersen was appointed Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by Governor Tim Walz in 2019. Commissioner Petersen is a long-time resident of Royalton Township near Pine City where he lives on a horse farm. Before being appointed Commissioner, Petersen served as the Director of Government Relations for Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) since 2002, working on behalf of MFU’s farmer-members in both Washington, D.C. and St. Paul. Prior to his work at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Commissioner Petersen spent most of his life working for his family and his own horse and farm business. He has a wide range of experience in state and federal farm policy, and travels to almost every county in Minnesota each year to fully understand how these policies affect farmers’ daily lives. He has served on many boards and committees, including the University of Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee, Farmers Legal Action Group, Citizens Utility Board, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, Minnesota State Organic Task Force, Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, and the Minnesota Fair Plan. Commissioner Petersen received his Associate’s degree from Normandale Community College and studied at both the University of Minnesota and University of Georgia. The Commissioner and his wife Alana live in Pine City with their two sons. The Petersens show horses around the state and have competed at the Minnesota State Fair for over 25 years.
Hikaru Peterson is professor of food marketing and consumer economics in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. She holds a B.A. in economics from University of Tokyo, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from Cornell University. Her academic background is in market analysis, and she works on issues related to food, as it is produced on the farm and travels through the system. In addition to her teaching assignments for the Departmental undergraduate and graduate programs, she contributes to the interdisciplinary Food Systems curriculum. She has been majorly involved in numerous interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research projects, and was the principal investigator for the Twin Cities Metro Farmers' Market Metrics Project funded by the USDA.
Corrie Scott was hired as a seasonal intern through the City of Big Lake to manage the Big Lake Farmers' Market in 2016. She also worked as the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Executive Director from 2016-2018. In 2018, the City of Big Lake promoted Corrie to a newly created Recreation Coordinator position that absorbed the Big Lake Farmers' Market management responsibilities. This position was Big Lake’s first step towards creating a Parks and Recreation Department. Corrie is from Big Lake, but currently resides in St. Cloud where she went to college and received her Bachelor's in Business Management from St. Cloud State University. In her free time, Corrie volunteers for the Central Minnesota Common Roots Festival in coordinating their artisan Bazaar.
Connie Shwecke is manager of the City of Otsego Farmers' Market.
Karen Wingard is manager of the City of Elk River Farmers' Market. Also serves as Secretary for the Minnesota Farmers' Market Association Board of Directors.
Kathy Zeman is Executive Director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association and an organic and pastured livestock farmer in Rice County. Since joining MFMA in 2012, she has helped MFMA broaden and deepen Minnesota's local foodshed by leading public policy endeavors that help people grow and make good food. She's a lead trainer for "Blazing Trails," a statewide effort to train people in all 87 counties on MN's food laws, food licenses, and food code. Zeman serves on the steering committee for Minnesota's Local Food Advisory Committee; the Board for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; the Food Innovation Team, a committee of the Food Safety and Defense Task Force; MDA's Produce Safety Advisory Group.