2019 Women’s Conference Speakers

Karen Washington


Since 1985 Karen Washington has been a community activist, striving to make the New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, she worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens.

As an advocate, and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she stood up and spoke out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the community.

Karen is a Why Hunger board member, a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on growing food and food justice across the country.  In 2010, Co- Founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS) an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings.

In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country and in 2014 was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award.

Since retiring from Physical Therapy in 2014, Karen is Co-owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm.

Patty Edelburg

Patty Edelburg is a dairy farmer in central Wisconsin. Along with her husband and 18 year old twins, Edelburg owns and operates Front-Page Holsteins. A registered Holstein dairy where they milk 120 cows and run 350 acres of corn and alfalfa, mainly for forage. The Edelburgs purchased their farm on June 1st, 2008. Beyond milking good quality cows, they also strive for excellent genetics that will do well in the show ring and club sales.

Beyond farming, Patty has been an advocate for agriculture for a long time. Most recently, she has been elected to serve as the National Farmers Union Vice President. Prior to that she served for a short time as the State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency in Wisconsin, spent 12 years on the Wisconsin Farmers Union state board and has served or currently serves on numerous state and local boards and committees, mostly stemming around agriculture. Her family is most important to her though, so she can be seen helping at many school activities, sporting events, FFA or 4-H functions with her husband and children.

Poppy Davis

Poppy Davis is a business and policy adviser to agricultural and food and beverage enterprises, and to nonprofits and local governments. She provides farmers and ranchers with training and technical assistance on issues such as business formation, land tenure, credit, taxation, liability, regulatory compliance, and value-added inventory.  She works directly with nonprofits, associations, and local governments to help them develop financial and managerial capacity and programs to improve the environment for farming, ranching and healthy food access.

She worked eight years at the USDA, most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Previously she was a California CPA with an emphasis in agricultural enterprises and non-profits. She holds a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Food and Agriculture from Drake University Law School, a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown, and a BS in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Davis.

Lisa Kivirist

Lisa Kivirist and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by the wind and sun.  Lisa is a Senior Fellow, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota and is the author of the award-winning book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers and co-author of Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance with her husband, John Ivanko. She leads the annual event, Soil Sisters:  A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life, a project of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and now the largest women farmer run event of its kind in the country. A national advocate for cottage food entrepreneurs, Lisa Kivirist served as a plaintiff in the successful lawsuit against the state that declared the ban on the sale of home baked goods unconstitutional.  She now runs Inn Serendipity Fresh Bakes from her farmstead, offering holiday cookies, Baltic rye bread and lots of treats with the farm’s bumper pumpkin crop.

Esther Lin

Esther is a part of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Outreach Office.  In this position, she supports the Farm Service Agency’s strategic outreach and engagement of beginning, military veteran, and Asian American and Pacific Islander farmers and ranchers.  Her work includes developing tools and resources that help field employees engage new audiences, and building partnerships across Federal, State, and community partners to ensure equal access to USDA programs.  Esther is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Chelsea Matzen

Chelsea Matzen is responsible for managing all aspects of the Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC), a $4.5 million cooperative agreement between NFU and FDA. The goal of LFSC is to provide education, outreach, and training to producers and processors serving their local markets. These growers while possibly exempt from regulations are not exempt from market demands. Her work includes representing the project at a variety of meetings; reviewing project deliverables; directing trainings and workshops offered by the project; selecting, working with, and monitoring subrecipients; evaluating project activities for impact and benefit to the target audience; overseeing the financial administration of the project, and keeping up-to-date on changes to FSMA as new information is available.

She is a Produce Safety Alliance Trainer assisting with trainings on the Produce Safety Rule as well as workshops introducing food safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Prior to employment with NFU, Matzen was an Associate Consultant with a small Federal consulting firm, Corner Alliance. In her previous role, she supported two grants at the Department of Commerce related to public safety broadband.

Stepheni Norton

Stepheni’s farming journey began after purchasing the Dickinson homestead, subsequently deploying and falling ill. After almost three years of misdiagnosis, she was properly diagnosed with stage 3 Lyme Disease, and promptly started daily IV treatment. A few months of struggling to find fresh and clean food that didn’t contraindication with her medicines, taking matters into her own hands – learning the business of farming, designing a farm layout and business plan from the IV chair.

Dickinson Farm, an heirloom fruit, vegetable and herb farm, is the first and only licensed farm in National City since the early 1900s. In 4 years, the farm has grown from 500sq ft to 2 acres and includes a farm store, small batch pantry product line, event space and home delivery.

A retired Chief Petty Officer and decorated military Veteran, with almost 20 years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience, Stepheni started and ran multiple successful business before breaking ground on Dickinson Farm. Her experience and expertise with local, state and federal regulatory compliance, startup and growth strategies for emerging markets, leadership in transitioning and operational environments, administrative and program development, as well as research and data management have helped make Dickinson Farm a success.

Kriss Marion

Kriss Marion is an organic vegetable grower, who also runs sheep, goats and steers in a rotational grazing system on a sandy bottom farm that’s half wetland. Her main income, after many trial and error experiments, now comes from a bed and breakfast operation on her 20 acres in SW Wisconsin. Kriss is a fierce defender of wild places and rural spaces, with a special love for family agriculture and main street redevelopment. Kriss is a county board supervisor and ran for state senate this fall in Wisconsin. She lost the election, but gained a lot of wisdom, friends and insights she’d love to share with you. Especially if you will consider running for office!

Pheasants Forever

Wisconsin Farmers Union staff met Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists in 2016 at a Women Caring for
the Land meeting hosted by Women, Food and Ag Network. These two groups connected on
conservation and the importance of a sustainable community not just for the farmer but also for
pheasants and other wildlife. This team hosted 11 Women Caring for the Land meetings across
Wisconsin over the past two years bringing together farmers, landowners and resource professionals
and sharing Wisconsin’s conservation story.

Deb Jakubek has been the state membership director for Wisconsin Farmers Union for the past 7 years.
Having been raised on a diversified crop and livestock farm in Western MN and having extensive
experience on dairy farms of all sizes allows her the ability to connect with all types of farmers and
landowners. Her favorite part of her job is making those connections and educating land owners about
the great people and resources available to them to make their conservation goals successful.

Gretchen Oleson is a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist out of Jefferson, WI. Her favorite part of her
job is finding solutions that benefit both wildlife and landowner goals while supporting local agriculture.
She loves hiking, hunting, and exploring Wisconsin’s great outdoors with her fiancé and daughter.
Julie Peterson: Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist from Green Bay WI, who believes in promoting
habitat and conservation practices to people of all ages and no land is too small to enhance the
vegetation diversity for wildlife. Recently, inherited a 200 acre farm with her husband and two children.
Enjoying the challenge of putting forward a legacy plan. She enjoys the quiet of the Northern MN
wilderness in her canoe with friends and family.

Becky Brathal is a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. Becky enjoys using her
background in land management to help landowners build a sustainable landscape that benefits both
the landowner and wildlife. She enjoys hunting, hiking, foraging, camping and many other outdoor
activities with her husband in all the beautiful places in Wisconsin.

Tally Hamilton is a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist in Portage, WI. She has a diverse background in
wildlife management and believes that we need conservation and habitat on private lands in addition to
our public lands to sustain healthy wildlife populations. Tally is enjoying working with her husband to
convert their 2 acres of land into high quality habitat for wildlife.

Ash Bruxvoort

Ash Bruxvoort has worked in digital organizing for environmental and food justice organizations in Iowa and across the country for almost ten years. Ash coordinates communications and the Plate to Politics program at Women, Food and Agriculture Network and coordinated Stepping Into Action: WFAN’s 2018 Annual Conference. She is a certified VoteRunLead trainer. She grew up on a family run corn and soybean farm in Polk County, Iowa, and got her start working on vegetable farms through WFAN’s Harvesting Our Potential program, which connected her to farms in Iowa, California, and New York. In addition to her farm background, Ash has worked for several agriculture and natural resource organizations, including The Nature Conservancy in Iowa, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Food Cooperative, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She has also served on the Iowa Farmers Union board and is a New Leaders Council alumnae. Ash’s writing and work have been featured in Civil Eats, Yahoo News, Edible Omaha, and more. Ash currently lives in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Allison Paap

As Vice President-Lending Manger in American AgCredit’s Southern California region, Allison Paap helps provide financing for all segments of agriculture in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties. With over 18 years of experience in agricultural finance, Allison has been an active participant in the Southern California agricultural community. She currently serves on the Board of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the Riverside Food System Alliance, and is a member of the urban agriculture working group for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and California Women for Agriculture. Allison uses her local knowledge and experience to serve as a resource to both young, beginning, and small farmers, and to Southern California farmers developing non-traditional marketing and sales channels. In her spare time, Allison enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.