Meet the small but MIGHTY staff of Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
Liz Moran Stelk: Executive Director
Liz is a veteran organizer bringing experience in sustainable agriculture policy and building powerful organizations to the Alliance. Liz previously served as a Regional Organizer with the Western Organization of Resource Councils in Montana where she worked with farmers and ranchers in seven states on local, state and federal food and agricultural policy. She formerly organized health care workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois and has led field work for a variety of grassroots and electoral campaigns.
Woody Woodruff: Conservation Associate
Budding bob-cat photographer, pond swimming expert, small grain farmer
Woody’s worked in conservation for more than two decades, and has done everything from train agricultural workers in Africa about crop rotation to running the Woodruff Family Farm in Modesto Illinois. Woody’s farm consists of 100 acres of cropland with 50 acres in a corn, soybean & wheat rotation, utilizing cover crops in that rotation. The remaining cropland has been restored into a prairie/savanna restoration which is protecting four acres of wetlands. Woody has inter-planted fruit and nut trees into his six acres of pasture. The remaining 50 acres of the land is maintained in timber.
In addition to working the land, Woody’s been working in the conservation field since the late 1980s. During his time as a Peace Corps volunteer Woody taught farmers in West Africa about crop rotations, new irrigation techniques and other conservation practices. He’s also worked at Sangamon County Soil & Water District, testing different best management practices, improving the water quality through conservation techniques and promoting conservation programs.
Molly Gleason: Communications Director
Vegetable enthusiast, Aspiring apple cider connoisseur
Molly joined the Illinois Stewardship Alliance team in January 2014. As Communications Director, Molly works to manage the websites and social media accounts, edit the newsletters, and create marketing plans and materials for various events. Molly also works to coordinate the Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois chapter and is extensively involved in various other local food programming.
Molly was raised on a third generation family farm in Elkhart, Illinois, and has always felt a strong connection to agriculture and the land. Growing up she was part of her local 4-H and FFA chapters and loved helping out in the family garden. She graduated from Illinois State University with a Spanish Education degree and spent three years teaching middle school Spanish as well as one year teaching university-level English in the Dominican Republic before settling back down to her roots in Central Illinois. Molly will graduate with her Masters degree in Communications from Purdue University in May of 2017. In her spare time, you can find her in the kitchen testing out new recipes, listening to podcasts, and trying to turn the pile of dirt beyond her apartment into something that will grow at least a few tomatoes.
Robin Schirmer: Band of Farmers Project Coordinator
Robin Schirmer, of Maywood, Illinois, coordinates ISA’s newest project, Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition, a farmer-led initiative to educate Chicago area consumers about CSAs as a way for supporting small-scale, local farms and obtaining fresh, nutrient-dense foods. Robin previously coordinated farmers markets and a 500-member CSA for a Wisconsin farm serving the Chicago area and, before that, coordinated over 50 indoor winter farmers markets in and around Chicago. In a prior life, she was a real estate attorney.
Rebecca Osland: Policy Associate
Resident herbal remedy guru, lawyer, and former potato harvesting whizz
Rebecca Osland joined the staff of ISA in Fall 2015 as Policy Associate after serving on the ISA board of directors. Rebecca previously worked as a solo attorney, advising local foods businesses and organizations and giving presentations on farm legal issues. Prior to, and throughout, her service on the board, she provided pro bono legal analysis and legislative drafting on several ISA policy matters. Rebecca completed a B.A. in political science at the University of Chicago, followed by an LL.M. in tax law and J.D. at Northwestern University.
While her interest in food and farming began on the consumer side, she has increasingly sought hands-on experience producing food—from home gardening to community gardening, and, recently, working part-time on an organic vegetable farm. Her hobbies also include backpacking, fermentation, and making herbal remedies. Rebecca feels that her mission is to nurture personal and community empowerment, and she views local foods—and, more broadly, local resource stewardship and economic self-determination—as essential to a more just, healthy, loving, sustainable, democratic society.
Lindsay Keeney: Outreach Coordinator
Master of large of river ecology, ray of sunshine, rookie goat herd specialist
Lindsay Miller began working at the Alliance as a summer intern in 2015 and was hired on as Outreach Coordinator in January of 2016. As Outreach Coordinator, Lindsay will be travelling to farmers markets, health fairs, and community events throughout central Illinois to increase awareness and education on the importance of buying locally. Lindsay is also taking the lead in coordinating the Illinois Organic Growers Association, a project of the Alliance, and is the new Market Manager for the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield.
Lindsay graduated from MacMurray College in 2013 with a bachelor’s of science in biology, and from UIS in 2015 with a master’s of science in biology as well as a master’s certificate in GIS technology. She is looking forward to using her skills to further the mission of the ISA. When Lindsay is not working at ISA, she can be found coaching soccer in Ashland, Il; or working on her small farm in rural Ashland. Prior to her work here, Lindsay worked at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park and at the IEPA. At these positions she was heavily involved in science, conservation, and agriculture education and outreach.
Erica Beeman: Office Manager
Budding flower gardener, numbers-crunching expert, mom-of-the-year award (voted on by her daughter).
Erica is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She has over fifteen years of investment accounting experience working for Bridgewater Associates, Paloma Partners and Harvard Management. Of those fifteen years, six of those years she worked for two local not for profit organizations, Prairie Art Alliance and the Hoogland Center for the Arts.
Since moving to Springfield, Erica has been involved in many charitable events in central Illinois, volunteering her time with The Hope Institute, Prairie Art Alliance and the YMCA to name a few. She and her husband, Brent are the proud parents of their five year old daughter, Abby.
Liz Rupel: Farmers Market Staff
Liz Rupel is one of the newest members of the Alliance. Liz will be working with the team at the Old Capital Farmers Market booth for the summer and fall months.
Liz is a current Springfield resident and has been living in or near the city for most of her life. She has frequented the market for many years and is excited to work with the Alliance and have the opportunity to be behind the scenes. Liz will be graduating this spring from the University of Illinois Springfield with her bachelors in Environmental Studies. She is an advocate for local and sustainable food and is looking forward to helping Springfield build the same passion. She has worked and interned with local farms around Springfield and Glenarm area. During her time at each farm, Liz would help prepare the produce for delivery to Augie’s Front Burner and American Harvest. Currently, Liz works at one of the restaurants mentioned, Augie’s Front Burner, as a waitress and promoter for the local farm-to-table initiative. Liz is currently one of the three-member leadership team working to establish a community garden on the UIS campus. The garden was created mid-April and is being ran by the leadership team, volunteers and other members of the community. Although Liz will be saying goodbye to UIS this fall she will stay working on the campus’s community garden.
During her spare time, Liz loves to be outdoors, camping, floating down a river, or hanging around in a hammock. Liz also loves to be in the kitchen, preparing meals for herself or for friends and family. She enjoys using fresh ingredients especially those grown in her home garden, community garden, or purchased at the market.