Our Leadership

Our directors, managers, and advisors are committed to saving America's heirloom seeds.

Neil Hamilton, JD

Chair of the Board

Waukee, IA

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.

Jovan Sage

Board Member

Brunswick, GA

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.

Beth Lynch, PhD

Board Member

Decorah, IA

Dr. 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

Board Member

Minneapolis, MN

Sean 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.

Denise E. Costich, PhD

Board Member

Denise is a passionate defender of maize genetic resources, devoting the past 18 years to research topics related to its taxonomy, evolution, and conservation. She recently retired from CIMMYT, the international Wheat and Maize genebank near Mexico City, where she curated their maize collection and focused part of her research on community conservation of landrace varieties. Photograph by Teake Zuidema.

Meghan Filbert

Board Member

Meghan is a livestock enthusiast and beginning farmer whose career with Practical Farmers of Iowa focuses on pasture-based livestock integration on the Midwestern landscape. Meghan grazes sheep and goats in central Iowa to reclaim Iowa's native oak savanna and prairie ecosystem.

Jim Morrow

Board Member

Jim Morrow has 43 years of experience in banking and finance—currently Chief Credit Officer and EVP at Decorah Bank and Trust. He is a farmboy, a lifelong gardener, and a longtime Seed Savers Exchange supporter.

Jeff Dawson

Board Member

Jeff Dawson has farmed organically for 32 years. He has grown heirloom produce for San Francisco restaurants and designed/managed wine country demonstration gardens. He’s been saving seed from SSE and developing new tomato varieties. He manages a small farm and is a biodynamic vineyard consultant in the Napa Valley.

Amy Goldman Fowler, PhD

Special Advisor to the Board

Rhinebeck, NY

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

Decorah, IA

Diane 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.

Rowen White

Special Advisor to the Board

North San Juan, CA

Rowen 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.

Lynne Rilling

Deputy Director - Administration

Lynne 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.

John Reynolds

Director of Sales and Business

John and his family have purchased Seed Savers Exchange seeds since 2010 for his raised bed urban garden. He is responsible for sales and business operations of the Seed House at Heritage Farm; and brings a wealth of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce experience from his time in New York City.

Heather Haynes

Director of Development

Heather has worked for organizations focusing on issues as diverse as children’s theatre, river conservation and reproductive health. She and her partner sustain an edible, native and pollinator landscape on their tiny urban lot. A purchaser and saver of Seed Savers seeds for almost 20 years, she is thrilled to be putting 22 years of development experience to work for Seed Savers Exchange.

Jim Edrington

Facilities Manager

Jim 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.

Meredith Burks

Director of Marketing and Communications

Meredith joins Seed Savers Exchange with more than 10 years of communications experience. Starting her career in New York City publishing, Meredith has a passion for storytelling and mission driven work. With fond memories of visiting Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm while growing up in Decorah, she is excited to cultivate a new connection with the land and community.

Jeanine Scheffert

Education and Engagement Manager

Jeanine comes to Seed Savers Exchange with fond childhood memories of carving pumpkins and attending potlucks in the SSE barn. She has a background in fine arts, a love of gardening, and a passion for facilitating connection, engagement, and empowerment. She is responsible for SSE’s education and engagement programs and brings a wealth of education experience from 20 years of work in the field.


Suzanne Ashworth

Dan Beard

Clive Blazey

David Cavagnaro

Rosalind Creasy

David Ellis, PhD

Jim Henry

Lindsay Lee

Lee Zieke Lee

Craig LeHoullier, PhD

Rob Johnston, Jr.

Deborah Madison

Laura Merrick, PhD

Phil Sponnenberg, PhD

John Swenson