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 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 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 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 is the Program & Communications Manager. She currently organizes Renewing the Countryside's Farm to 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.
Devon is a Project Coordinator at Renewing the Countryside. Currently she is curating Feast! Festival and Tradeshow in November and also assisting with Women Caring for the Land events. She is in her second year of small scale farming in Rochester, MN and is passionate about all things sustainable and edible.
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.
Karen Weldon is a Program Associate with Renewing the Countryside, supporting events and communication from the Minneapolis office. She first came to the organization as an intern in 2012, and joined the staff in 2015. Karen has a BA in Environmental Studies from Macalester College, and has spent the past 5 years organizing for sustainable food systems with Real Food Challenge. Karen lives in Saint Paul, where she enjoys walks by the Mississippi and cooking fresh vegetables from the farmers market.