The Land Connection's Board of Directors
Terra Brockman – Founder – is a speaker and author, most recently of The Seasons on Henry's Farm, which was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2010. She was raised in central Illinois. After spending time at the Universities of Oregon and California at Berkeley, she finished up an undergraduate and graduate degree in English Literature and Biology at Illinois State University. She then worked as a teacher, writer, and editor in Japan for five years and then in publishing in New York City for eight years. During those years, she traveled extensively, from Nepal to Eritrea to Morocco to the Baltics. During her travels, she found that much of the “third world” ate better than some in the first world because their foods were fresh, local, and unprocessed. As she made her way back to central Illinois, she realized that the best food in the world could be grown in the rich soils of Illinois. In 2001, she founded The Land Connection, and is working to ensure that more Illinois farmland will grow great local foods for our tables. She has been honored with a Green Award from Chicago Magazine, and a Good Eating Award from the Chicago Tribune.
Martha Cook – President — is a founding board member of The Land Connection, and an Associate Professor of Botany at Illinois State University. After studying at universities all over the country, Martha Cook settled in the state with the richest soil in the world. During her job interview, she was promised there would be local organic vegetables available if she came to Illinois State University, and now she enjoys food from her own garden as well as from the expanding Bloomington and Normal Farmer's Markets. She uses local organic flour to make her own bread.
Sue Lannin – Secretary — grew up in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side and in a rural area later annexed into Northbrook. Her family’s half-acre, filled with fruit trees and a vegetable garden, was adjacent to prairie remnant and across the street from a marsh and an abandoned farm. A portion of most family summer vacations when not camping were spent gathering eggs or exploring a creek that flowed through an uncle’s small dairy farm in north central Wisconsin. Sue earned a BA in English and her Masters in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana. After teaching at Richmond-Burton H.S. in McHenry County, she became Reference Librarian for a decade at the Merriam Center for Public Administration on the campus of the University of Chicago. Active in environmental issues on the state and local level, she chaired the board of the Illinois Environmental Council, was active with the Chicago Recycling Coalition, and, from 1997-2007 worked as office administrator for the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter. She received a Masters in Community Development in August 2008 from North Park University. She is Campaign Chair and represents The Sierra Club Foundation on the board of Earth Share of Illinois. Sue, her husband Albert Ettinger, and daughter Lenore live in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago where she volunteers with the Alderman Joe Moore’s 49th Ward Green Corps, organizing a workshop series on community sustainability and working to establish the Glenwood Sunday Market, hoping to combine access to fresh organic produce from a farmers market with community business and cultural endeavors. She is passionate about the need to save farmland and train new farmers in organic practices, as she sees these as essential to protect public health, rebuild the local food economy, restore soil fertility, revitalize and connect rural and urban communities, and respect waterways.
Brooke Barnabe - Treasurer– was born in Hoffman Estates, IL and raised in the Peoria, IL area. She was top of her class in the 2004 graduating class of Limestone Community High School. After that, Brooke pursued a B.S. in Computer Science at Bradley University where she was nominated the Honors Student of the computer science department and was top of her class graduating in 2007. After graduation, Brooke worked as a computer programmer at AT&T headquarters in St.Louis, MO and then as a system administrator/database developer at G&D Integrated, Inc. in Morton, IL. She currently works at Advanced Technology Services in Peoria, IL as a Microsoft SQL Server database administrator. In her free time, she likes growing a small garden in her backyard, attending farmer's markets, playing with pure essential oils, learning about herbs and natural healing, practicing yoga, and anything else that has to do with holistic health. Her expertise in the IT industry as well as her passion for local economies and organic food makes Brooke a valuable asset to TLC and their data needs.
Irvin Cernauskas – is President of Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks. After many years working as an IT consultant, Irv and his wife Shelly decided to live their values by launching Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a company founded to create new market opportunities for local organic farms and to offer new ways for consumers to access these products. Irv has an M.S. in Management from MIT Sloan School of Management, and an M.A. and B. A. in Economics from the University of Toronto. He also serves on the board of Oak Park-based Seven Generations Ahead.
Roy Ho – is a bank product analyst at State Farm Bank in Bloomington, IL. He also worked as an Operational Risk Analyst at the Royal Bank of Canada. He has served on the boards of the Urban Alliance in Toronto and the Green Party of Ontario. He has a B.A. in Economics and an M.S. in Mathematics, and lives with his wife and two children in Bloomington.
Larry Wood – was raised on a diversified farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York state. He worked for The Andersons, Inc., an agribusiness and retailing firm, for 34 years and retired in 2008. Throughout his career with The Andersons, he held a variety of managerial positions both at the Champaign, IL facility and at the corporate office in Maumee, OH. Larry is actively engaged in the community, committing his time and energies to various organizations and projects. Some of his past involvements include serving on the Community Advisory Board of the local NPR station and the Champaign County Economic Development Council. Larry was also was active with Champaign County Network (CCNet), a discussion group interested in starting a comprehensive sustainability plan for Champaign County.
Currently, he serves on the Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation board and provides volunteer business consulting services to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs through SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). Larry joined The Land Connection’s board of directors in 2010.
Larry lives near Mahomet, Illinois, in a log home that he designed and built.
Mary Gelder – completed her B.S. in Computer Engineering at UIC, and received her M.S. in Telecommunication Systems from DePaul University. She first became aware of the value of local organic food while living and working in London as a software developer for a proprietary trading company. Her passing interest in nutrition and environmental issues developed into a consuming passion and later into a real concern, which ultimately motivated a major career change. Now once again a student, she is enrolled full time at the UIC School of Public Health, leaving the world of software behind to join the effort to change away from industrial food production, advocating for sustainable organic farming and local food with its life-giving contributions to health at every stage of our ecosystem. Mary makes her home in Westmont, a suburb of Chicago.
Michael Mayo - is currently a Communications Consultant for Caterpillar's Global Mining organization, in Peoria, Illinois. Prior to moving to Central Illinois, Michael was a Communications Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington D.C., working with various government agencies. Michael studied Painting and Art History at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois and received his Masters in Organizational & Multicultural Communication at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He is co-founder of Fullsail Leadership—a personal development company focusing on servant leadership and is currently producing and directing his first feature film in the Central Illinois area. Michael's experience developing and executing strategic communication strategies and general project management experience mixed with his passion for creativity and organization are valuable to TLC's branding and outreach initiatives. Michael has also served on the board for the Central Illinois Youth Symphony, in Peoria, Illinois. Michael and his wife Sarah have 3 children and currently live in Morton, Illinois.
Renée B. Mullen - is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. A microbial ecologist by training, with strong interests in the conservation of biodiversity, Renée did postdoctoral work on bioremediation with the Environmental Protection agency, taught microbiology at the University of Southern Maine, and worked as a scientist and educator for the global conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy, in Idaho and The Yunnan Province of China. Renée enjoys bringing the interdisciplinary study of the environment to students and helping them to discover their own interests and strengths. Since moving to Illinois in 2007, she’s become increasingly interested in the impacts of agriculture and agricultural policies on the environment and the opportunities for alternatives like sustainable agriculture to benefit both humans and wildlife. Thus, in their spare time, she and her husband enjoy trying to grow much of their own food behind their house in the Mackinaw valley near Congerville, IL.