Alliance 2020 Board of Directors

Shari O’Donnell, Board President
Project Manager

Shari is the new President of the Board of Directors. She has a lifelong love of local food and describes herself as a “cook, canner, baker, and traveler.” Living in Bloomington-Normal for over 18 years, Shari formally worked as a project manager for State Farm.

Melissa Schwoerer, Vice President
Engrained Brewing Company

Melissa was born and raised in central Illinois anfd has always had a strong connection to farming and environmental issues. She is an attorney and former human resources manager, having worked in a variety of settings including state and local government, Caterpillar, and St. John’s Hospital.  She became passionate about clean, local food when she had her first son in 2010 and has become an advocate for children’s health in the years following. She owns Engrained Brewing Company, a local Springfield microbrewery and farm to table restaurant.

P Emily Wright, Treasurer

An avid advocate of local food and sustainability, Alex founded Urban Canopy in 2010. Utilizing his background in computer engineering and business administration (B.S., University of Illinois; M.B.A., University of Minnesota), Alex has created a unique company that is technically and business savvy, while remaining connected to the community. Alex is a Chicago Public Schools Education Pioneers Fellowship recipient and serves on a number of committees and boards, including serving as the Board Treasurer of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a member of the Advocates for Urban Agriculture Steering Committee, and more.

Kendra Boesdorfer, Secretary
Custom Cup Coffee

Ben Hankins

Ben’s family history of farming goes back generations to the town of Nokomis Illinois. Learning that a farm’s profitability rests not only with harvest, but with robust community support.  Ben believes locally grown food is more delicious, nutritious and sustainable.

With his bachelor’s degree in both Marketing and Business Administration from Illinois State University, and an M.B.A. from Illinois State University, Ben brings a valuable perspective to the board.  Additionally over 12 years of professional experience as a marketing manager, product manager and key accounts manager.

Since 2014 Ben has been with BUNN, and recently moved to BUNN Farm’s high quality, locally-raised beef throughout Illinois. Ben’s ready to share his experience to help local food producers earn a fair, living wage and advocate that good food is available for all.

Dick Lyons
Farmer, Illinois Association of Drainage Districts

Richard Lyons, commonly known as Dick Lyons by his friends, is a 4th generation corn/soybeans/wheat  farmer. The Lyons farm focuses on agriculture conservation and sustainability practices of:  no-till, cover crops, nutrient management, filter strips and drainage management control structures.  In addition to his 48 years of farming, Dick spent 32 ½ years as a college and university teacher of animal science and agronomy at Lincoln Land Community College and Illinois State University.  After teaching, Dick worked in his own agri-business training business, Employability Skills Unlimited, Inc., specializing in leadership, sales and agronomy skills training. In addition, Dick worked as a cover crop specialist for the Illinois Council on Best Management Practice for 2 years.  Dick is also involved in agriculture by being an associate director for the Montgomery Co. SWCD, a board member of the Illinois Association of Drainage Districts (IADD), and a member of the Working Policy Group committee for the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy for Illinois ILDOA & ILEPA. Lastly, Dick serves as the unpaid, registered lobbyist for IADD to the Illinois State Legislature.

Tim Magner
Nature’s Farm Camp

Tim Magner is a Chicago-based education entrepreneur. He studied history at Boston College, followed by a career in technology sales before focusing on kids. For the last decade, Tim has been involved in a number of educational and food-related ventures, including as a children’s book author and the founder of Truck Farm Chicago. He’s now a Grant Officer at the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation and part of Nature’s Farm Camp at Angelic Organics Learning Center,  an overnight summer camp where the kids help run the farm.

Erica Beeman

Rikkisha Candler
Attorney, Mayer Brown

Chase Sanert
Sugar Grove Family Farm

Chad Wallace
Oak Tree Organics