Naima Dhore, Equity & Local Foods Advisor
Naima is a first-generation farmer, activist and educator committed to caring for mother earth and community building. She founded the Somali American Farmers Association and owns and operates Naima’s Farm LLC in Alexandria, Minnesota. Naima is passionate about organic farming and inspiring young people to become farmers, specifically people from immigrant communities in Minnesota. She is an inaugural member of the Emerging Farmers’ Working Group at the Minnesota Department of Health and educates on sustainable agricultural practices, healthy eating habits and the connections to environmental and community health.
Says Naima: “As a Climate Land Leader I have the opportunity to inspire and mobilize others, drive positive change and contribute to long-term environmental sustainability. My passion comes from a desire to actively participate in finding climate solutions, which is crucial for the well-being of current and future generations and the reason why I joined Climate Land Leaders. I am excited to continue making connections between climate, equity and local foods in this role.”
Christina Foster, Illinois Lead
Christina (Chris) Foster is a sixth-generation steward of her family’s Illinois farmland where she is transforming cropland into pasture for grazing. Her dream is to produce nutrient-dense food using regenerative practices that are good for the land, animals, people and the planet. Off-farm Chris supports the capacity of cross-sector collaboratives to achieve equitable social impacts through facilitation, training and coaching. She loves bringing people together for powerful conversations that promote learning and change. Chris serves on the Farmland Protection Commission for Kane County and lives on the farm with her husband, son and many beloved animals.
Says Chris: “It is an honor to be in community with farmland stewards who care so deeply about their land, how it is farmed, and its impact on our climate. I look forward to inviting other Illinois farmland owners to join this community of leaders who demonstrate that change is possible.”
Suzi Howk, Consulting CFO
Suzi has served nonprofits for 15 years and enjoys using her command of numbers to help make an impact. She is passionate about finance and serving as a strategic business partner and also brings extensive experience in grant contracting and administration. Suzi lives in small-town Iowa with her husband and two children where she enjoys cooking, biking, and helping on the family farm.
Says Suzi: “As an Iowa resident and future landowner I know that real and lasting landscape change to mitigate climate impacts can only be initiated and sustained by caring and thoughtful landowners and farmers. I’m honored to work with Climate Land Leaders to support the growth of the organization and to help the network flourish.”
Sarah Hunt, Program Director
Sarah has Midwestern roots, a music background and a limitless love for making and sharing food. She spent the first part of her career at a member-owned financial services organization in roles including operations, organizational effectiveness and new business development. Sarah worked on an organic vegetable farm before joining Climate Land Leaders, where she builds infrastructure, supports fundraising and partnerships, co-leads federal policy advocacy and connects with cohort members to tell their stories.
Says Sarah: “It’s deeply energizing to work alongside such engaged and open-minded land stewards who are implementing multi-year, multi-generation changes to mitigate the effects of climate change and build resilience in their communities.”
Wendy Johnson, Federal Policy Co-Lead
Wendy is a wife and a mother to a daughter and a lot of furry animals. She leads Climate Land Leaders’ work on federal agricultural policy. She grows corn, soybeans and small grains with her father on Centerview Farms and organic grains, hay, sheep, cattle, pigs and wool with her husband and daughter on Joia Food and Fiber Farm (Charles City, IA). She is the chair of the USDA Farm Service Agency state committee in Iowa and works for markets for her farm’s products through Counting Sheep Sleep Company and 99 Counties. She loves walking in the woods and hosting multicultural experiences on their farm.
Says Wendy: “I work for Climate Land Leaders because I believe in climate change, and I believe that I have the agency to help mitigate its effects. I have learned an exponential amount from this cohort as Climate Land Leaders share their successes and frustrations with implementing regenerative agriculture practices.”
Theresa Keaveny, Minnesota State Policy Lead
Teresa is a veteran leader of sustainability-focused nonprofit organizations, including most recently as executive director of Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. Theresa has been a rural community organizer in the Dakotas and Montana working on conservation, water protection and family farm and ranch issues and brings extensive experience in civic and policy engagement to her state policy work with Climate Land Leaders. Theresa is a Minnesota native who grew up on a farm near Morton.
Says Theresa: “Land owners who are called to address our changing climate by restoring and stewarding the farms in their care — that’s the unique role played by the Climate Land Leaders. I’m inspired by the Climate Land Leaders as they forge a path towards regenerative agriculture and work with the people who farm their land. This nurtures the landscape, their lives and our communities.”
Teresa Opheim, Executive Director
Teresa is a mother, partner, dog companion, former farmland owner and the founding director of Climate Land Leaders. She has spent her career in nonprofit organizations, including the Iowa Environmental Council, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sharing Our Roots and the precursor to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She is a former fellow at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and the editor of The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letter Project. She has strong Iowa roots, now lives in Minneapolis and spends a lot of time on wild and wonderful Lake Superior.
Says Teresa: “It is my great privilege to work with this group of talented folks who are addressing the climate crisis with compassion and commitment. They bring a myriad of skills and experiences to the cohort and are a sweet reward for a long career.”