Directors

Krista Dittman
President
Locale: Valparaiso, Nebraska.
Krista has worked with local foods intensively, helping to start the first Slow Food group in Nebraska. From 2006 to 2017, she was the cheesemaker at Branched Oak Farm near Raymond, Nebraska. Krista recently transitioned back into the classroom, teaching German at Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, using the language skills she acquired as a Rotary Youth Exchange student and a Fulbright Teaching Assistant. Krista joined the Center board in 2018.
Dennis Demmel
Vice President
Fundraising, Constituency, and Media Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Ogallala, Nebraska.
Dennis has been farming for over 30 years, and spent the last 10 as a certified organic farmer. He uses his experience and perspective to help other organic farmers succeed. He also assists beginning farmers and family-run farming operations gain more access to the resources they need. Dennis joined the Center board in 2017 after serving on the advisory board.
Jay Hall
Secretary
Nominations and Board Development Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Committee
Locale: Red Cloud, Nebraska.
Jay is a retired farmer and educator who has lived and worked in the US, Sweden, England, Australia and China. He is passionate about social and economic equality for everyone, especially rural Americans. He helped develop, and is now president of the Center’s Rural Investment Corporation. Jay has served on the Center’s Advisory Board since 2010, the Rural Investment Corporation Board since 2014, and the Center's Board of Directors since 2018.
Chuck Karpf
Treasurer
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Committee
Locale: Omaha, Nebraska.
Chuck is semi-retired, and has been involved in rural development and entrepreneurship for most of his career. He now acts as a consultant, and has helped the Center set up a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) designation for Rural Investment Corporation (RIC), which helped open up additional financing opportunities for the Center’s work. He joined the Center board in 2007.
Leverne Barrett
Executive Committee
Nominations and Board Development Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project 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.
Melissa Florell
Executive Committee
Finance and Business Affairs 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.
Amanda McKinney
Member
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Policy Program Committee
Locale: Beatrice, Nebraska.
Amanda McKinney joined our Board of Directors in March 2019.
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.
Karen Tikalsky
Member
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.
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.
Paul Swanson
Member
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.
Ross Larson
Member
Finance and Business Affairs Committee, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Committee
Locale: Wahoo, Nebraska.
Ross Larson joined our Board of Directors and Rural Investment Corporation Board in March 2019.
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.