Board of Directors

Jackie Armstrong

From a sharecropper’s granddaughter to a landowner, from in-house legal counsel in the fossil fuel industry to a climate activist, from the streets of Detroit to the banks of the Cedar River in Iowa, Jackie Armstrong traveled a circuitous route to her work as an impassioned advocate for the environment. She practiced corporate law with Schlumberger Ltd. at multiple Schlumberger companies and employment law in Mason City, Iowa, with Brown, Kinsey, Funkhouser & Lander. Following retirement in 2015 from her legal career, she obtained a biology degree with an ecology emphasis. She was elected a Soil and Water Commissioner in Mitchell County, Iowa, in 2020. Jackie lives with her husband, Gary Levinson, on the Cedar River, restores prairies, manages woodlands and agricultural land, kayaks and plays with grandchildren.

Kate Moos, Treasurer

Kate Moos grew up in central Minnesota and began her career in journalism covering the farm crisis of the 1980s and the emerging AIDS epidemic for Minnesota Public Radio. She helped build the MPR Newsroom as a Managing Editor and later helped create Speaking of Faith/On Being with Krista Tippett. As an Executive Producer, Kate worked to uplift new voices for the public media audience by partnering with the Fond du Lac Band and food and environmental groups in North Minneapolis. She was instrumental in the 2019 founding and launch of Sahan Journal and served as its first Managing Director. Sahan Journal is a nationally acclaimed new digital news organization that centers the experiences of Minnesotans who are immigrants, Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Kate recently retired and lives on a farm in Central Iowa with her spouse, Valerie Arganbright, and a yellow dog named Raven.

Meg Nielsen, President

Even before Meg started school, her grandmother taught her to weed her beautiful flower beds on the family farm in Southern Minnesota. Ever since she has felt a strong spiritual connection with the Earth, the trees and all living creatures – human and otherwise. A founding member of Climate Land Leaders, she is a lover of words, a gardener and a woman of faith. She has worked as the editor of a weekly community newspaper, mothered three children, been partner in a small public relations company, and serves as a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Her experience includes membership on many church councils/committees, village committees, historical society boards and ELCA synod teams. Her farm has always held a special place in her heart, even though she and her band director husband, Glenn, have lived for 51 years in McFarland, WI.

Julie Ristau

Julie grew up on a small diversified farm in Southern Minnesota and has years of lived experience in the agriculture arena. She was co-owner of a hog breeding business and co-founded Homegrown Minneapolis, the city’s local Urban Agriculture and Food initiative. She was also on the Board of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture for six years and is currently on the Board of Shared Capital Cooperative. A Minneapolis resident, Julie spearheaded the acquisition and development of the Sharing Our Roots Farm near Northfield, MN, and served as the organization’s Executive Director from 2018-2020, during which time Climate Land Leaders began as an initiative. Julie now works as a senior fellow with the Sharing Our Roots team as well as with the Minnesota Commons Land initiative.

Jane Shey

Jane Shey is a Senior Policy Consultant for World Food Program USA. Before working for the World Food Program USA, she worked closely with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees to maintain or create new programs and obtain funding for these programs. She has also run for the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa, served as a congressional legislative aide, and worked as the staff director of the Subcommittee on Foreign Agriculture and Hunger at the House Committee on Agriculture. Jane has served on federal government advisory committees such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program. She stewards family farmland in Northern Iowa.