Jan Joannides 612.251.7304

Jan Joannides is the Executive Director and co-founder of Renewing the Countryside. For the past  fifteen years, she has been an advocate and organizer for rural communities and citizens who are  working to stimulate economic growth and enhance their communities through sustainable uses of  their landscapes and resources. Jan also holds an appointment as Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Prior to her work with Renewing the Countryside, Jan coordinated  the Community Assistantship Program at the University of Minnesota and helped found and directed  the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management. Jan holds a master's  degree in natural resources from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota with her husband Brett, daughter Olivia, and son Axel.


Brett Olson 612.910.7601

Brett Olson is co-founder and the Creative Director at Renewing the Countryside. He works on community and local foods system development and designs and manages Green Routes. Brett also hosts Local Food Hero radio. He has been working as an art director and designer for fifteen years, starting as a designer at a small design firm in Minneapolis, and then opening his own business. Brett has designed many printed advertising and media campaigns for both non-profit and corporate clients. As one of the founders, Brett has been involved in much of the planning and organizing and promotion of Renewing the Countryside since its beginning. Brett lives with Jan and their two kids in Zumbro Falls.


Eli Goodwell 612.208.8354 

Eli joined Renewing the Countryside as Associate Director in 2014. He has over a dozen years of  experience working with local foods systems in the Twin Cities area. He was the general manager at  Birchwood Cafe, a bastion of farm-to-table food in Minneapolis; operations director at Resilient  Northern Habitats, an organization in Western Wisconsin which works to revitalize the rural landscape  and School and CropShare Coordinator of Cooks of Crocus Hill in Saint Paul, which teaches culinary  enthusiasts how to prepare delicious homemade and healthy foods. Eli lives in Twin Cities with his wife and son and works from Renewing the Countryside's Minneapolis office.



Lynne Bishop

Lynne joined Renewing the Countryside in 2012 as Finance Manager.  She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire; and has had numerous accounting classes as an MBA candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.  She is a member of the Nonprofit Financial Group of the Twin Cities and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.  A legal resident of Wisconsin, she and her husband and their little “doglet", a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ruby (aka Dufus) live in St. Paul during the week and in Spooner, WI on weekends.



Grace Brogan  612.520.1675

Grace is the Program & Communications Manager. She currently organizes Renewing the Countryside's Farm to Institution and Child Care programming and supports the organization's online and print media content. She holds an MS in sustainable food systems and writing as well as a BA in art, has spent ten years in the nonprofit sector, and is committed to handbuilding a life of learning, sharing, and making  change. 



Ramona Robinson-O'Brien

Ramona is the Program Associate assisting with the coordination of Renewing the Countryside’s farm-to-childcare and farm-to-school programming. She has experience teaching, researching, and writing on the topics of public health, nutrition, and food system sustainability. She holds a doctoral degree in nutrition with a minor in sustainable agriculture and recently completed master gardener training. She currently lives in Hudson, Wisconsin and enjoys time with family and friends, being outdoors, and gardening with her son Jackson and daughter Lily.



Elena Byrne

Elena holds a doctorate in nutritional sciences from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She most recently served as Outreach Coordinator for the Organic Processing Institute, a nonprofit that offered education and information resources for food businesses. She and her husband have been avid gardeners for years, and now enjoy the willing assistance in the garden from their four children. She shops at her local co-op and is enjoying seeing the local foods movement capture the hearts of consumers everywhere.



Monica Walch

Monica believes that eating sustainably-grown, fresh food is a pleasure that deserves to be celebrated. And creating unique events designed to celebrate local food and farms has always been her work.



Zoe Craig

Zoe Craig is an intern with Renewing the Countryside, helping to plan this years Healthy Local Food Exhibit at the State Fair. Zoe has a BA in Environmental Studies from Carleton College, and currently lives in Minneapolis. Zoe enjoys creating art, writing, all things food related, and spending time outside.



Sue Wiegrafe

After dedicating years as a Tree Breeder (The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL) and Assistant Professor of Horticulture (UW-River Falls, River Falls, WI), Sue is launching a career in the sustainable agriculture realm.  She worked as a Research Assistant for Badgersett Research Corporation (Canton, MN) helping to advance nut crops as viable 3rd crops and with The Natural Fiber Alliance (Houston, MN) on a grant funded project to promote local fiber production.  She has a small integrated fiber, fruit and forage farm in Mabel, MN, where she raises a small flock of registered Babydoll Southdown sheep. 


Dayna Burtness

Dayna supports multiple RTC efforts including the Specialty Crop Enhancement Program and the Slow Money MN / Grow A Farmer Fund.  Dayna has spent the past 11 years in the food and farming world working with peri-urban and rural vegetable farming, student farm management, Farm to Institution sales, and restoration agriculture. She raises pastured pigs at Nettle Valley Farm with her husband Nick and two strange but lovable dogs.  

 Cassaundra Lewis

Cassaundra Lewis

Cassie attended St Cloud State University with the intent on Majoring in Meteorology, but after taking an Introduction class to Environmental Studies, fell in love with the environment and changed her major. Over the course of the past few years, she has had many opportunities to learn about garden growing, and raised garden beds. She resides in Lakeville, MN where she lives with her two children, Xiriah and Kiera.

She is serving at Renewing the country as a member of the MN GreenCorps Program.

Launched in 2009, Minnesota GreenCorps is a statewide program to help preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals. This program places AmeriCorps members with local governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations around Minnesota, where they will serve for 11 months on focused environmental projects that help build community resilience. The program is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.