Our directors, managers, and advisors are committed to saving America's heirloom seeds.
Chair of the Board
North San Juan, CA
Rowen White is a seed saver, farmer and educator. She is from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and curates an extensive collection of rare northeast native seeds. Rowen is co-founder of the Sierra Seeds Cooperative.
Neil Hamilton, JD
Vice-Chair of the Board
Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Agricultural Law Center at the Drake University Law School, Neil has taught agricultural law for 30 years and is the author of numerous books and articles for farmers and lawyers.
Secretary Treasurer of the Board
Larry Grimstad is the former President of the Decorah Area Community Foundation and former President and CEO of Decorah Bank & Trust Company. He raises grass-fed cattle, is a mulch gardener as well as a developer of renewable energy sources.
Since 2008, Oona has been the co-owner of Town Farm, a sustainable farm in Northampton Meadows. She and her husband started a farmer’s market in fall 2007, with the goal of creating a fun, relaxing, vibrant market that features products from local producers.
Los Altos, CA
Garden and food writer, photographer and landscape designer with a passion for beautiful vegetables and ecologically sensitive gardening, Ros is the author of multiple books including The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping.
Rob Johnston, Jr.
Rob is the founder and chairman of Johnny's Selected Seeds, and is currently in the 10-year process of selling Johnny's to its over 100 employees so that the company will be entirely employee owned. He has been a member of SSE since 1976.
Rare book dealer and publisher of rare horticultural reprints, Keith is a horticultural/agricultural literature historian. He is the owner of American Botanist Booksellers, established in 1983, which does collection development for colleges, universities and individuals. He has been a member of SSE since 1984.
Jovan has over 15 years of experience as a grassroots organizer and describes herself as having "a deep interest in food justice." Her professional resume includes work as director of community engagement at One Hundred Miles, a Georgia organization working to preserve natural resources, and as the director of network engagement for Slow Food USA.
An independent consultant, Hope has conducted extensive research and writing on the topics of agricultural biodiversity and intellectual property, as well as the social and economic impacts of new biotechnologies.
Beth Lynch, PhD
Dr. Beth Lynch is an Associate Professor of Biology at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She holds a Doctorate in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. Prior to coming to Luther in 2001, she worked as a botanist at Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and later taught at Loras College and Northland College. Her research over the years has been in plant ecology, with a focus on the conservation of native plant communities in the upper Midwest.
Sean Sherman is a successful chef, educator and entrepreneur, who is very committed to his Native American community. Founder of the company The Sioux Chef, Sherman’s main culinary focus has been on revitalizing indigenous food systems in a modern culinary context. He also sponsors a food truck (Tatanka Truck) with the Little Earth Community of United Tribes in Minneapolis.
Amy Goldman Fowler, PhD
Special Advisor to the Board
Amy is a gardener, author, artist, philanthropist and advocate for heirloom fruits and vegetables. She is the author of "The Compleat Squash", "Melons for the Passionate Grower" and "The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table" - all three books were recipients of the American Horticultural Society Book of the Year awards.
Diane Ott Whealy
Special Advisor to the Board
Diane Ott Whealy co-founded Seed Savers Exchange with Kent Whealy in 1975. She has been a national leader in the heirloom seed movement and a strong advocate for the protection of the earth's rare genetic food stocks for over 36 years. Diane retired from SSE in 2015 and remains an advisor to the organization.
President and Executive Director
John Torgrimson has more than 30 years' experience working with and managing non-profit organizations in Asia and the United States. He has been the executive director of SSE since 2010.
Deputy Director - Administration
Lynne Rilling is a Certified Public Accountant who was born and raised in the Decorah, Iowa area. She received her B.A. from Upper Iowa University. Lynne joined SSE as the chief financial officer in 2011, serving both as corporate treasurer and chief accountant.
Jim Edrington started work at SSE in 2006. Before coming to SSE, Jim served in the military for 21 years. His responsibilities at Heritage Farm include facilities management, environmental compliance, management of the 890 acre grounds, livestock management, physical security, and training of personnel.
Marketing & Development Director
Alicia joined the SSE staff in 2016. She leads the marketing, media, fundraising, and membership activities for the organization. She worked for five years as a digital editor for Better Homes and Gardens and also held a leadership role at a digital marketing agency, specializing in social media.
Tor Janson has worked at SSE since March 2011. He manages SSE's genebank Collection of over 20,000 varieties and oversees several related projects, including SSE's Evaluation Program and Collection Origins Research Effort (CORE). Tor has an educational background in Biology and Landscape Architecture.
Seed Bank Manager
Tim joined the SSE Preservation team in 2012 after earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Florida. Tim has worked to develop the organization's Accessions Policy, placing a new emphasis on the histories of varieties in the collection and focusing on programs that inspire members to grow and share seeds.
Seed House Manager
Tom Wahlberg came to SSE in 2007 with a farming background and a master's degree in business. He is the manager of the SSE seed department, supervising the production, packaging, and shipping of our seeds and plant products.
David Ellis, Ph.D.
Lee Zieke Lee
Beth Lynch, PhD
Laura Merrick, PhD
Phil Sponnenberg, PhD