Iroquois Valley Farms Team
David E. Miller, Co-Founder and CEO
Rooted by heritage in Iroquois County, Illinois, Mr. Miller returned to his native farming community in 2005 after a 30 year career in banking and real estate financial management. Purchasing a small 10 acre family farmstead, he re-connected with local relatives farming organically. In 2007 he started Iroquois Valley Farms LLC by connecting a small group of family and friends to a 142 acre farm.
Prior to seeding sustainable farmland ventures, Mr. Miller held executive positions at Bank of America, Santa Fe Southern Pacific and First Chicago Corporation. His extensive experience in structuring alternative real estate investments led to the formation of Iroquois Valley Farms, the first private company in the United States to integrate farmland and organic food production, utilizing mostly mid-size family farmers.
An MBA graduate of Columbia University’s School of Business and 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, Mr. Miller views education as the primary key to changing the nature and health of our current food production system. In this regard, Mr. Miller is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Loyola and was recently honored by the University (Damen Award) for distinguished services in the field of environmental sustainability. He resides nearby in Winnetka, Illinois along with his wife and three children.
Kevin Egolf, Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Egolf’s career started in the banking and private equity industry in New York City. He was led towards the Company due to its sustainable, local, organic farm focus. Based in our New York City offices, Mr. Egolf supports his sustainable lifestyle through cooking local, seasonal, organic foods purchased through farmer’s markets and from community supported agriculture programs as well as sharing his vermicomposting worms with friends and family. Mr. Egolf’s role at the Company is to help expand the Company’s geographic footprint in New York and New England while managing new member subscriptions on a national platform.
Prior to focusing on sustainable ventures, Mr. Egolf was a senior associate at Castle Harlan, a middle market private equity firm, and previous to that role he was an investment banking analyst with Bank of America working for retail, consumer, and restaurant clients. Mr. Egolf is a graduate of Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Computer Science.
Arnold Lau, Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Lau has several areas of responsibility including multi-year budget modeling, long-term planning for the company and evaluating new business/geographic opportunities as well as management of specific programs including the Young Farmer Land Access Program and a farmland ownership transition program. He also monitors and evaluates developments in such areas as climate change and the environment, capital markets, regulation, and technology for factors that may have long-term implications for the Company and its farmers. Mr. Lau reports directly to the CEO; and coordinates his duties with the CFO and Managing Director of Business Operations. Mr. Lau also supports development of offering materials, investment sales and investor relations.
Mr. Lau has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics from Lawrence University, and a Masters of Management from Northwestern University. He was previously a member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange from 1983 until 1999, and a member of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1985 until 2007. He is a life member of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy.
John Steven Bianucci, Director of Impact
Mr. Bianucci has long been passionate about food sovereignty, social justice, health, organic farming and agroforestry. He works to maximize the social and environmental impact of Iroquois Valley Farms. He has extensive corporate experience in branding, marketing and sales. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Bianucci has co-founded publications and been a successful independent trader and trading advisor. Computer User magazine was the country’s first regional computer publication and published monthly for 24 years. Mr. Bianucci graduated from Harvard College.
Teresa Opheim, Director of Young Farmer Land Access Program
Teresa Opheim leads the Young Farmer Land Access Program with a specific focus on helping the young millennial farming tenants during the transition years. One of her main projects includes creating and implementing a “Farmer Benefits Package” geared towards financial assistance, cost coverage, training and technical support for farmers during the three year organic transition period from conventional agriculture to regenerative Organic agriculture.
Prior to her work with Iroquois Valley Farms, Teresa served as the Executive Director of Practical Farmers of Iowa from 2006 to 2016. She served as Executive Director of the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and has worked for the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She is co-author of the book Our National Wetland Heritage, published by the Environmental Law Institute. Teresa has journalism and law degrees from the University of Iowa. Teresa and her family now reside in Minneapolis.
Sally Dodge & Dale Guldbrandsen, Northeast Community Development Managers
Sally Dodge and Dale Guldbrandsen have served as Northeast Community Development Managers for Iroquois Valley Farms since 2013.
Sally was a pioneer in the locally grown foods movement beginning in the 1970s and 80s, when she managed a large beefalo operation in Vermont, and later created the Taste of Vermont, an annual event that linked farmers and chefs, and grew into the Vermont Fresh Network. Joining Iroquois Valley Farms has enabled Sally to contribute many years of experience in the promotion of organic farming, farm economics, and healthy food. Sally is a member of the board of advisors of Soil4Climate.
Dale worked on his grandfather’s farms near Peoria, Illinois, during his youth, and also on farms near Plymouth, Michigan. He worked in Fortune 500 companies for 30 years, and later provided performance improvement services in many economic sectors, including manufacturing, health care and education. He has now circled back to the food and farming revolution as his main passion in joining Iroquois Valley Farms.
Sally and Dale enjoy working with farmers, investors, and many agricultural and conservation organizations to promote the mission of Iroquois Valley Farms. They both believe that supporting regenerative, organic agriculture is the best work they can do to mitigate climate change, and save the planet for their grandchildren. They live in Vermont, and enjoy sourcing their food from local farms, and cooking from scratch.
Rita Billon, Director of Marketing Communications
Ms. Billon is a career marketing and advertising professional, whose 30 year career recently culminated at Kraft Foods, Inc. Kraft was one of the first consumer products companies to fully embrace integrated marketing communication planning, and Rita benefited from this leadership through participation in groundbreaking and innovative approaches in this field.
Ms. Billon understands the consumer demand for more organic food, evidenced by the changes in the competitive set in a number of her former employer food product categories, as well as voiced by grocery retailers. Ms. Billon is a graduate of DePaul University and a long time resident of the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Ms. Billon enjoys cooking—mostly vegetarian and organic—which supports her active lifestyle.
Claire Mesesan, Communications Manager
Claire completed her bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and French from Loyola University Chicago in 2014. Within philosophy, Claire gravitated toward intersections between social and political philosophy and environmental/agricultural ethics. After graduation, Claire spent a year in Madison, WI working as an AmeriCorps Farm-to-School educator.
At Iroquois Valley Farms, Claire’s work centers around communicating the company’s impacts across audiences. She is passionate about creating a more sustainable, just, and empowering food system. Claire resides in Rogers Park where she spends her free time creating urban garden spaces and art.