John Ackerman, CCPP board member, was raised on a dairy farm in Central Michigan, which was later converted to a beef farm. With 260 acres on his property and about 35 heads of cattle, John continues to farm in his retirement. His life on the farm was interrupted with two years of military service in the Army and one year in the Vietnam War. Until his retirement in 2016, John worked at and was part owner of Capital Equipment, a tractor and farm equipment dealership in the town of Clare. He has been employed with Capital Equipment for 52 years and currently works two days a week at the dealership. With over half a century of experience, John has an extensive knowledge of farm equipment operations, parts, and servicing as well as sales.
Peter Bane, CCPP board member, is a nationally renowned permaculture expert. Peter has decades of teaching experience and has been leading Permaculture design courses since 1992. Author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country, he published Permaculture Activist magazine from 1990-2015. He holds the Diploma of Permaculture Design, variously, in teaching, media, trusteeship, site design, and community development from the Permaculture Institute – USA (2014), the British Academy Worknet (2005), and the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) (2016). Peter served on the founding board of PINA as Secretary and later President until being asked to take the staff role of Executive Director in 2018. He farms with his family on 18 acres near Montague, Michigan.
Bill Kehoe, CCPP board member, has deep Michigan roots, having grown up, lived and farmed in the state for much of his life. Bill has a degree in both biology and chemistry and was an independent contractor in the oil industry for 18 years. He worked as a chemist and a chemical cleaner for oil companies in various locations around the world. His farming career began with ten acres, a roasting pig operation, as well as a four-acre strawberry farm. Bill left the oil industry permanently in 2014 to pursue farming full-time with a specialty in mushroom cultivation. He currently runs a 32-acre farm near Rodney in Central Michigan. Bill specializes in a small goat dairy, cultivates produce that is sustainably grown, and his mushroom operation is immensely popular in various farmers markets around Central Michigan.
Carol Moody, CCPP board member, is the Recreation Coordinator and a Certified Farmers Market Manager for the City of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She has worked in the recreation field for more than 25 years and has a background in event management. For the past nine years, Carol has managed the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market. She became a Certified Market Manager through the certification program offered by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). This training provided a solid foundation for leading the market, expanding services and equipping her to take the necessary steps to accept SNAP benefits at the market. She implements and evaluates the market. Collecting and sharing metric data, including customer counts and market sales, has proven beneficial and quantifies that Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market is truly one of the city’s community treasures.
Craig Russon, CCPP board chair, will retire in 2023 after seventeen years as a Senior Evaluation Officer with the International Labour Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to take up farming full-time. He previously worked as an Evaluation Manager with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and was Senior Principal Research Associate at The Evaluation Center on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Craig holds an MA, MBA, as well as a PhD in the evaluation of agricultural education programs. He has written over 70 books, chapters and articles on evaluation. He will continue as an adjunct member of the faculty of Western Michigan University and of la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
Pam Smyth, CCPP board member, has been a nurse for 30 years and is faculty at Ferris State University, teaching in the nursing program as well as health professions. She and Bill Kehoe run a 32-acre farm, Udder Bliss, in Rodney, Michigan, growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. For over 20 years, Pam has maintained a small herd of purebred registered Nubian dairy goats, using the milk for soap, cheese, and other dairy products. She is extremely interested in improving healthy food access for disadvantaged populations, nature, the environment, and addressing climate change. She is also a member of frogwatch, learning the calls of all the frogs in Michigan and listening and recording them to monitor changes in populations as amphibians are sensitive to climate change and pollutants.
Karen Russon, CCPP president, obtained a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration on international development. She worked in the Office of International Agriculture at the University of Illinois after meeting Craig as Peace Corps volunteers in Latin America where Karen pursued cottage industry cooperative development. Her interest in evaluation’s role in organizational development was realized as co-founder and president of the nonprofit organization, Evaluation Capacity Development Group (ECDG). In 2020, Karen and Craig purchased a small farm near Clare, Michigan as a refuge for climate change for their “retirement” life after 17 yrs living in the greater Geneva area. They began experimenting with small-scale sustainably grown produce that was sold at a local farmers’ market and donated to a local food bank during the pandemic.
Oran B. Hesterman is a national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems and is a respected partner for policymakers, philanthropic leaders, and advocates nationwide. He recently retired as Founder and CEO of Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit on a mission to grow community health and wealth through food. Before launching Fair Food Network, Oran led the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Integrated Farming Systems and Food & Society programs, during which time he seeded the local food systems movement with more than $200 million in investments. With a Ph.D. in agronomy, plant genetics, and business administration, Oran researched and taught forage and cropping systems management and sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University prior to his work in philanthropy and nonprofits.
Michael Edward Irwin was the Professor of International Entomology and the Schlinger Research Professor of Arthropod Biodiversity at the University of Illinois. A world leader in research on plant virus epidemiology, insect migration and dispersal, and integrated pest management, Irwin undertook nearly 50 international consultancies, mostly to lesser-developed countries. He received numerous international and national competitive grants, authored more than 250 peer-reviewed publications, and mentored numerous graduate students. Irwin was deputy executive director of the Consortium for International Crop Protection and was an external member of the IPM Technical Committee of the United States Agency for International Development’s Collaborative Research Support Program in Integrated Pest Management (IPM-CRSP). He organized and, for many years, chaired the United States Department of Agriculture’s North Central Regional Research Committee on Migration and Dispersal of Insects (NCR-148), received the University of Illinois’ first Global Impact Award, was recognized for outstanding achievements in biometeorology by the American Meteorological Society, and was honored by the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiology for outstanding contributions to that field. He is an Honorary Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.
Adolfo Castellanos is a Spanish expert in bioclimatics and bioconstruction who has developed his activity as Director of Hotel Projects in Spain, Morocco, Mexico and Jamaica, with more than 200,000 sqm built in total. Some of these hotels have been proposed as models of sustainable development. He has collaborated with NGOs in establishing ecological root bed wastewater treatment systems. He has recently completed postgraduate studies “Professional Energy Skills” in photovoltaic systems at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
He has several patents for products related to sustainable construction such as ceramic bricks for ventilated facades, which is a natural cooling system for buildings. He regularly collaborates on projects related to hypocaust air conditioning, a system that was developed and widely used in the Roman Empire in the construction of the popular baths. He has participated in updating this idea to power it with solar energy and take advantage of the thermal mass of the materials used in construction as energy storage which is defined as “thermoactivate buildings”.
Scott Whitsitt is Founder and CEO of One-to-One Service.com, Inc, a leading provider of digital customer service and marketing software. Scott is a pioneer in the digital customer service and marketing industry with over 20 years of experience with internet companies. He’s helped some of the largest companies in the world leverage the internet to improve operations, enhance customer service, and penetrate new markets. He’s recognized as an industry expert and has spoken at numerous conferences and published articles on topics ranging from EDI to improving the customer experience. Prior to founding One-to-One Service, he held senior management positions with a publicly traded software company (Computer Sciences Corporation) and the world’s fifth largest consulting firm (Ernst and Young). Scott was previously a board member of Evaluation Capacity Development Group (ECDG), where he provided guidance on marketing and general business practices.