Directors

Becky Gould
President
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Lincoln, Nebraska.
Becky is the executive director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, a nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest law firm that advocates for equal justice and full opportunity for all Nebraskans. She is a native Nebraskan and grew up on a small farm just outside of Valparaiso. Becky has practiced poverty law in Nebraska since 2001. She joined the Center board in 2010.
Joe Blankenau
Vice President
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Wayne, Nebraska.
Joe is a political science professor at Wayne State College in rural northeast Nebraska. Joe has conducted research on the unique rural aspects of health care finance reform. He was elected to the Center board in 2008.
Melissa Florell
Secretary
Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Kearney, Nebraska.
Melissa, a registered nurse, is a passionate health care advocate. She and her family live and work on a farm near Kearney. She has witnessed first hand the shortage of primary care providers in rural areas. She serves the Director of State Affairs for the Nebraska Nurses Association. Melissa was elected to the Center board in 2011.
Chuck Karpf
Treasurer
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Committee
Locale: Omaha, Nebraska.
Chuck has been involved in rural development and entrepreneurship for most of his career. He joined the Center board in 2007.
Karen Tikalsky
Executive Committee
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Niobrara, Nebraska.
Karen worked with the developmental disabilities division of Health and Human Services in Knox County until retirement. She and husband Jim participated in the Center’s Small Farm Resources Project and are members of the Small Farms Cooperative, a group of farmers that are selling their natural livestock at premium prices. Karen was elected to the Center board in 1986, and is a past president.
Leverne Barrett
Executive Committee
Farm and Community Program Committee
Locale: Ceresco, Nebraska.
Vern has worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 1980. He teaches leadership courses and assists communities and organizations with leadership development. Vern joined the Center board in 2009.
Connie Harvey
Member
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Committee
Locale: Hastings, Nebraska.
Connie, owner of Efficiency Counts, is passionate about helping small businesses stay on top of bookkeeping and data tracking. She helped us to develop the Center's Bookkeeping Basics for Business Success training resource and was the Center's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. She joined the Center board in 2012.
Dennis Demmel
Member
Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Ogallala, Nebraska.
Dennis joined the Center board in 2017 after serving on the advisory board.
Greg Fripp
Member
Farm and Community Program Committee, Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee
Locale: Papillion, Nebraska.
Greg is founder and executive director of Whispering Roots, a nonprofit that provides fresh, locally grown, healthy food for socially and economically disadvantaged communities. His knowledge of aquaponics, hydroponics, and urban farming has led to innovative educational programs in public schools and two- and four-year colleges. Greg joined the Center board in 2015.
Keith Mahaney
Member
Farm and Community Program Committee, Nominations and Board Development Committee
Locale: Walthill, Nebraska.
Keith is a Thurston County farmer who practices sustainable farming. He and his family have been long-time Center supporters and are active in extension, church, Picotte Center, and other community activities. Keith was elected to the Center board in 1992.
Santiago Vasquez
Member
Farm and Community Program Committee, Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee
Locale: Columbus, Nebraska.
Santiago works with the Platte County Time for Change Coalition. He was elected to the Center board in 2014. He is an active volunteer bringing all members of the community together in activities like a new community garden.
Jim Knopik
Past President
Farm and Community Program Committee, Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee
Locale: Belgrade, Nebraska.
Jim farms with his sons. They along with others have formed a cooperative that is direct marketing several commodities they raise. Jim was elected to the Center board in 2002.
Paul Olson
Past President
Farm and Community Program Committee, Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee
Locale: Lincoln, Nebraska.
Paul was an English professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is a former director of the Center for Great Plains Studies and is involved in rural cultural affairs. Paul was the driving force behind creation of the School at the Center, which engaged rural schools and students in understanding and reinvigorating their communities. He was elected to the Center board in 1979.
Paul Swanson
Past President
Farm and Community Program Committee, Nominations and Board Development Committee
Locale: Hastings, Nebraska.
Paul was elected to the board in 1995. Paul is a retired Extension Educator who specialized in sustainable agriculture and direct and cooperative marketing. He is now also an organic farmer.
Bob Warrick
Director Emeritus
Locale: Oceanside, California.
Bob is a strong conservationist and a retired diversified farmer. He long served as co-chair of the Agriculture Committee of the National Sierra Club. Bob was elected to the Center board in 1976.
Clark Nichols
Director Emeritus
Locale: San Marcos, Texas.
Clark practiced law in the Panhandle, where much of his work involved natural resources, particularly water. His family has farmed at Minatare since 1888. Clark now lives in Texas. He was elected to the Center board in 1979.
Don Reeves
Director Emeritus
Locale: Oberlin, Ohio.
Don a farmer from Central City, returned to Nebraska after working for Bread for the World in Washington D.C. Don is a board member and former interim director of the American Friends Service Committee. He and his wife relocated to Oberlin, Ohio in 2009. Don was elected to the Center board in 1997.