Lynne Bishop 

[email protected]

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

[email protected]  612.520.1675

Grace is a Program Manager and our Development/Communications Director. She currently organizes Renewing the Countryside's Community Based Food System programming, facilitates development strategy, 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 English and art, has spent over ten years in the nonprofit sector, and is committed to handbuilding a life of learning, sharing, and making change. She spends most of her time in Western Montana. 


Elena Byrne

[email protected]

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.


Kate Edwards

[email protected] 319-333-2980

Kate is a CSA farmer near Iowa City, growing food for 200 families each week of the growing season. Kate is entering her ninth year of farming and serves as a Farmland Access Navigator in Iowa.


Sara George

[email protected]

Sara works with us on our Farm to School, Farm to Early Care, and Farmers Market Aggregation program areas. Her family owns and operates a small vegetable farm in Pepin, Wisconsin, and she is a mother of three. She has been the market manager for the Wabasha Farmers Market for the past 6 years, and Red Wing starting in 2019 year as well as the Vice President of the MN Farmers Market Association. She is also a former child care provider.

Melvin Giles

[email protected]

Melvin supports Renewing the Countryside’s Farm to Early Care efforts. He is also the co-coordinator of the Urban Farm & Garden Alliance (UFGA), and a veteran peace and diversity educator. Since 2010, he has facilitated the Peace Pole and Peace Message Campaign. The campaign is intended to decrease violent crime and create places, spaces, and opportunities for peaceful gatherings and racial and cultural appreciation, education and healing in the greater St. Paul area. Melvin lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and enjoys playing in the soil, growing things, and bubbles.



Eli Goodwell

[email protected] 612.208.8354 

Eli joined Renewing the Countryside 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.


Jan Joannides

[email protected] 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 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

[email protected] 507.993.6931

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. Before joining Renewing the Countryside he worked as an art director for fifteen years, starting as a designer at a small design firm in Minneapolis, and then opening his own advertising and marketing studio. As one of the founders, Brett has been involved in much of the development, planning and organizing of Renewing the Countryside since it's beginning. Brett and his family have recently moved to a historic dairy farm and stone stagecoach stop in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota.


Ramona Robinson-O'Brien

[email protected]

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.

Jody Padgam

[email protected]

Jody joined RTC staff in January 2021 to help with grant writing, reporting, administration and financial management. She was the financial manager at Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) for 16 years, and recently worked 3+ years on education projects for organic grain farmers for the University of WI. Jody has owned a 60-acre grass based farm in north central Wisconsin for 20 years, where she raises most of her own food, including organic pastured broiler chickens for sale, and rents to 3 neighbors.


Stephanie Shekels

[email protected]

Stephanie is a Program Assistant and works across a variety of programs and projects. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis and has collaborated on an urban agriculture ordinance and agriculture educational materials in St. Louis, Missouri. She briefly farmed in Missouri and Maine before returning to Minnesota. She loves to garden and talk about food, pollinators, and soil!


Nora Shields-Cutler

[email protected]

Nora works to support Renewing the Countryside's community food systems work, including Farm to Early Care and Education, Farm to School, and Farm to Institution efforts. She has worked in both government and nonprofit settings to support food systems change, healthy eating, and healthcare access. Nora holds master’s degrees in public health and social work, and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her family.


Lisa Kivirist

A national advocate for women in sustainable agriculture, Lisa Kivirist is the author of the award-winning book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers. She leads the Soil Sisters initiative at Renewing the Countryside.  Lisa is the co-author of multiple books on sustainability, food and entrepreneurship with her husband, John Ivanko, including Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, Ecopreneuring and Rural Renaissance. For over twenty years, she and her family have run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by renewable energy.