TEAM

VILICUS FARMS | HILL COUNTY, MT

We are proud to work with growing network of partners in the movement to transform impact investing and agriculture.

David E. Miller

Co-Founder and CEO

About David

“We built our business to support the businesses of our farmers.”

Rooted by heritage in Iroquois County, Illinois, Mr. Miller returned to his native farming community in 2005 after a 30 year career in banking and real estate financial management. Purchasing a small 10 acre family farmstead, he re-connected with local relatives farming organically. In 2007 he started Iroquois Valley Farms LLC by connecting a small group of family and friends to a 142 acre farm.

Prior to seeding sustainable farmland ventures, Mr. Miller held executive positions at Bank of America, Santa Fe Southern Pacific and First Chicago Corporation. His extensive experience in structuring alternative real estate investments led to the formation of Iroquois Valley Farms, the first private company in the United States to integrate farmland and organic food production, utilizing mostly mid-size family farmers.

An MBA graduate of Columbia University’s School of Business and 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, Mr. Miller views education as the primary key to changing the nature and health of our current food production system. In this regard, Mr. Miller is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Loyola and was recently honored by the University (Damen Award) for distinguished services in the field of environmental sustainability. He resides nearby in Winnetka, Illinois along with his wife and three children.

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Mark Schindel - CFO

Mark Schindel

Chief Financial & Investment Officer

About Mark

As Chief Financial and Investment Officer, Mark has responsibility for financial systems and reporting, budgeting and forecasting, reviewing new funding opportunities, monitoring and tracking the investment portfolio, and evaluating new deals. Mark sees Iroquois Valley as a great vehicle for improving the health of the planet and raising awareness of the multitude of benefits achieved through farming organically. And with farmers in his family, the company’s mission is a personal one.

Mr. Schindel received his BS in Finance from the University of Illinois, and his MBA from Northwestern’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Before joining Iroquois Valley, Mark spent most of his career in the private equity business; and as a financial consultant and private investor. Mr. Schindel lives in Chicago, and enjoys tennis, downhill skiing, and hiking around the world.

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Arnold Lau - COO

Arnold Lau

Chief Operating Officer

About Arnold

Mr. Lau has several areas of responsibility including multi-year budget modeling, long-term planning for the company and evaluating new business/geographic opportunities as well as management of specific programs including the Young Farmer Land Access Program and a farmland ownership transition program. He also monitors and evaluates developments in such areas as climate change and the environment, capital markets, regulation, and technology for factors that may have long-term implications for the Company and its farmers. Mr. Lau reports directly to the CEO; and coordinates his duties with the CFO and Managing Director of Business Operations. Mr. Lau also supports development of offering materials, investment sales and investor relations.

Mr. Lau has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics from Lawrence University, and a Masters of Management from Northwestern University. He was previously a member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange from 1983 until 1999, and a member of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1985 until 2007. He is a life member of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy.

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Fany Bortolin - Senior Vice President

Fany Bortolin

Senior Vice President

About Fany Bortolin

As Senior Vice President, Fany is responsible for managing organic farming lines of credit and creating tailored business and regenerative plans aimed to improve financial and environmental sustainability.

Fany has a Bachelors degree and Masters in Accounting and Financial Management and an additional BA in Social Psychology. Her strengths lie in driving financial & operational improvements in both growth & challenging economic environments, as well as creating environments that fosters engagement, commitment, and collaboration.

Her uncompromising commitment to environmental issues, organic farming, and health brought her to join Iroquois Valley in 2019.

John Steven Bianucci - Director of Impact

John Steven Bianucci

Director of Conservation

About John Steven

As Director of Conservation, Mr. Bianucci leads conservation initiatives for the Company, including grants, collaborations, and integrated fundraising. He advises the CEO and Board Chair on conservation finance, strategy, policy, communications, public-private partnerships, and select companies. Mr. Bianucci has long been passionate about food sovereignty, social justice, health, organic farming and agroforestry. He has extensive corporate experience in branding, marketing and sales. Mr. Bianucci has co-founded publications and been a successful researcher, advisor, and trader. Computer User magazine was the country’s first regional computer publication and published monthly for 24 years. Mr. Bianucci graduated from Harvard College.

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Alex Mackay - DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTOR RELATIONS

Alex Mackay

VP, Investor Relations

About Alex

A native of Hanover, NH, Alex’s wide variety of experiences has brought him on adventures in cities all over the country and many farm stands and country houses in between. Alex fell in love with food making his own after school snacks, and went on to work in restaurants and farms, own a food cart company and produce a renowned pop-up beer garden for the 2014 World Cup.

Alex sees food as the perfect conduit for making lasting environmental and social change with its necessary role in our everyday lives and its increasing presence in modern culture and society. To Alex, the power of Iroquois Valley lies in its ability to combine innovative finance with old-fashioned stewardship of the land, all while providing a profit for its stakeholders.

Alex received his BA in History from Columbia University in 2006 and his MBA from Babson College in 2017. He and his wife Anna have a son named Homer and two lovable mutts named Ishi and Tim.

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About Claire Mesesan

Claire Mesesan

Communications Director

About Claire

At Iroquois Valley, Claire’s work centers around communicating the company’s impacts across audiences. She loves telling the stories of Iroquois Valley farmers and creating content that captures how the company works with farmers and investors to create change. She is also the primary contact for new farmer outreach. Claire works within operations getting to know farmers, understanding their needs and practices, and helping them move through the pipeline. She is passionate about creating a more sustainable, just, and empowering food system.

Claire completed her bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and French from Loyola University Chicago in 2014. Within philosophy, Claire gravitated toward intersections between social / political philosophy and environmental / agricultural ethics. After graduation, Claire spent a year in Madison, WI working as an AmeriCorps Farm-to-School educator. Claire resides in Los Angeles, California. Outside of work, she spends her time outdoors, creating art, and gardening. 

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About Lacey

Lacey Benz

Investment Coordinator

About Lacey

Growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota, Lacey couldn’t wait to trade in the cornfields and cattle pastures for the hustle and bustle of a big city. After graduating with a degree in Economics and Finance, she achieved her goal and spent one year as an analyst at JPMorgan in New York City. Missing the wide open spaces of the Midwest and discovering her passion for organic and regenerative agriculture, Lacey moved back to the Corn Belt and joined the Iroquois Valley team in 2020 as Investment Coordinator.

In this role, Lacey manages the investment process for the equity and debt issued by the company. She loves to brainstorm new ways to make the systems more efficient, streamlined, and organized… all while helping the firm grow its capital base. When she isn’t working at Iroquois Valley or helping out on her family farm, Lacey enjoys gardening, practicing yoga, and traveling

About Claire Mesesan

Raya Carr

Office Manager

About Raya

Raya joins Iroquois Valley’s team with more than two decades of experience in organic & diversified farming through the midwestern seasons of North-Central Illinois. Raya grew up a shepherdess as well as hay, honey, egg, & poultry farmer. After college, Raya worked in a sales management capacity at her family’s farm, Mint Creek, greatly increasing annual sales (from 2010 to 2018). With Mint Creek, she successfully completed the 2015 Good Food Business Accelerator Program by Family Farmed at 1871. Raya learned about communications, philosophy, critical theory, history of science, writing, & ethics through her liberal arts degree at Shimer College where she graduated at age 19 as salutatorian of the 2010 class.

Raya sees natural continuity from working in organic farming to working with Iroquois Valley. On her family’s farm, Raya witnesses how organic, regenerative farming heals the land. On a larger scale, Raya is ecstatic about Iroquois Valley’s impact across the U.S. as organic farmers receive the financing tools they need to thrive!

On weekends, Raya still organizes a seasonal farm dinner & tour series as well as other projects for her family’s farm. When she can find time, she writes poetry & lyrics, sings, and plays folk music on the guitar.

Board of Directors

  • Stephen P. Rivard, M.D.

    Board Chair, Co-Founder and Corporate “Medical Director”

    Dr. Rivard has a long history of entrepreneurship in the medical and health field. After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees from Loyola University of Chicago, he began a practice in the newest medical specialty of the time, emergency medicine. After 26 years – and having raised two children — he changed careers and founded Illinois Vein Specialists in Illinois in 2008, another growing medical specialty business. He also began diversifying his investments to focus on health and organic farmland.  His interest in organic farming goes beyond profit. It also includes the mission of creating a more socially conscious and sustainable future for his children. Dr. Rivard is now reaching out to other physicians and health care professionals to bring attention to the varied health illnesses associated with our current food production system. Specifically, he is concerned about the growth of Type 2 diabetes, food allergies and various cancer incidences that may be associated with our food choices. He views investing in Iroquois Valley Farms as a chance to both reclaim our health and sustainably grow capital.

  • Andy Ambriole

    Stockholder, Board Director, Farmer/Tenant

    Mr. Ambriole, his wife, and his parents farm around 1,800 acres in Huntington County, Indiana near Ft. Wayne. Mr. Ambriole is the first farmer to join the Board and brings a wealth of experience and energy to the group. Currently, he farms 500 acres of certified organic land, half owned and half leased. An additional 300 acres of farmland is being transitioned to organic certification, including the Company’s Old Oak and Sparta Woods farms. Mr. Ambriole is an active user of cover crops (rye grass, buckwheat, oats, oil seed radishes and clovers) and has a custom cover crop seeding business, along with an organic fertilizer business using on-farm earthworm production. Along with the typical grain crops, he also grows organic greenhouse tomatoes and raises Nubian goats for local cheese production.

    Mr. Ambriole was awarded Indiana State Star Farmer in 2008 and Huntington County Conservation Farmer in 2010. He is a Supervisor on the Huntington County Soil & Water Conservation Board and a member of the Organic Valley Grower Pool.

  • Sally Dodge

    Stockholder, Board Director, Northeast Community Development Manager

    Ms. Dodge is a long-time farmer, creative entrepreneur, successful business owner, and energetic environmental activist. She has been Northeast Community Development Manager for Iroquois Valley Farms since 2013. She manages her family’s 350 acre farm in Pownal, Vermont, leasing it to several organic operators. She co-owns a flock of Katahdin sheep, and with her partners, manages them by the Alan Savory Holistic Management system. She is a former beefalo farmer, raised and marketed grass-fed beef before its importance to consumers became widely embraced. She is one of the pioneers of the locally-grown food movement, and created Taste Vermont, a bi-annual event in the ’90s which promoted public awareness of specialty farmers in Vermont and their importance to the Vermont brand.

    Ms. Dodge served as a trustee of the Vermont Land Trust, where she took part in helping the organization move toward supporting diversified farms and farm acquisition programs. She is a member of the board of directors of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, and serves as their liaison to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

    She is an owner of The Mountain Goat, an outdoor outfitting store in Manchester, Vermont. She lives in Manchester with her husband, Dale Guldbrandsen, who partners with her in their Iroquois Valley Farms position.

  • Arnold Lau

    Stockholder, Board Director

    Mr. Lau is an independent securities and commodities trader. He was previously a market maker on the Chicago Board Options Exchange for 16 years and has been a member of the Chicago Board of Trade for 20 years. He holds degrees from Lawrence University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mr. Lau is a life member of the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, and since 2010 has co-managed Two Roads Farm LLC, a 320 acre organic farm in central Illinois.

  • Malaika Maphalala

    Financial Advisor, Board Director

    Malaika Maphalala is a Private Wealth Advisor and Partner at Natural Investments LLC, a national SEC registered Investment Advisory firm that has specialized in exclusively socially and environmentally responsible investments for over 30 years. A lifelong advocate for social change, Malaika is driven by a passion for finding innovative approaches to bringing people and resources together to address social and environmental complexities.

    In her role as Wealth Advisor, Malaika provides portfolio management and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions across the country that want to use their wealth as a tool to transform society and economic systems using humane, restorative, and ecological principles as the guide. She specializes in Regenerative Investing, which is investment that directly supports the regenerative capacity of communities and ecosystems. Her areas of special interest and expertise encompass investments in sustainable agriculture, community development, clean and renewable energy, cooperative businesses, and microfinance.

    Malaika received her BA from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands and she holds a Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation from the Investments and Wealth Institute in conjunction with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

    She currently lives full time on the island of Hawaii, her home for almost 25 years, where she and her family tend and enjoy their beloved, rural, solar-powered, organic farm and homestead.

  • David E. Miller

    Stockholder, Board Director, Chief Executive Officer

    After a 30-year career in corporate finance and real estate, Mr. Miller returned to his native Illinois landscape in 2005 by purchasing a 10 acre farm from a family estate of his relatives. Keeping the farm in the family, he re-connected with local relatives and friends farming organically. In 2007, he co-founded Iroquois Valley Farms LLC to enable a new generation of farmers and investors to support healthy food production. Mr. Miller is currently CEO and President of the Company.

    Prior to developing sustainable farmland ventures, Mr. Miller held executive positions at Bank of America, Santa Fe Southern Pacific and First Chicago Corporation, including the management and oversight of large leasing portfolios. In 2008 he formed Working Farms Capital, an entity seeding new ventures in sustainable agriculture while providing transitional farm management services.

    Mr. Miller is a 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, and a 1978 graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Mr. Miller views education as the primary key to changing the health and economics of our current food production systems. In that capacity, Mr. Miller is a founding member of the advisory board for Loyola University’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability and is a recipient of the Institute’s first Damen Award, recognizing his services related to positive environmental change. Mr. Miller resides in Winnetka, Illinois with his wife and family. He continues to restore his small organic farm in Iroquois County, a family heritage since 1875, now being transitioned to native prairie and permaculture production.

    Mr. Miller is a co-founder of Iroquois Valley Farms LLC, and has served as it Chief Executive Officer continuously since the company’s founding in 2007. He has previously served on the Board of Managers.

  • Rory Beyer

    Farmer, Board Director

    Rory, a 5th-generation farmer, and his wife Amber have one daughter and farm their family’s 500- acre Beyercrest Farm in southeastern Minnesota near Rollingstone in Winona County. Their farm is diversified as an organic dairy, beef cattle, and grains; and makes extensive use of rotational pasture grazing and cover crops.

    Rory is active in organic and sustainable farming advocacy as exemplified by his membership on Organic Valley’s Dairy Executive Committee and as a Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation. He is active in his community, especially his church, St. John’s Lutheran Church of Lewiston, Minnesota.

    Rory has a BS in Animal Science from University of Wisconsin – River Falls, and an MBA from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

  • Dorothy D ("D.D.") Burlin

    Stockholder, Board Director

    D.D. is private investor and former attorney. She is an advocate for local, sustainable, organic, and regeneratively grown foods, with particular interest in creative uses of capital to fund the large-scale expansion of this sector. She is a co-founder (2011) and continuing member of the Sustainable Local Food Investment Group (SLoFIG), a 30-member, mission-based, angel investor network based in Chicago, Illinois. From 2010 through 2014, she was an investor in Two Roads Farm LLC, a single-farm investment partnership founded by David Miller and Dr. Stephen Rivard which merged with Iroquois Valley Farms LLC in 2014.

    As an attorney from 1992 to 2007, D.D. was licensed with the Illinois and Missouri bars, and licensed to practice before federal courts in several districts and circuits. Her work included extensive criminal law practice. Her academic credentials include a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from Georgetown University.
    D.D. and her husband, Johannes, have two sons, and reside in Chicago, Illinois. They also have a small farm near Reeseville, Wisconsin. D.D. is active in non-profit and political fundraising, and is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the American Youth Foundation.

Events

Calling all transitioning & organic farmers: Share your experience in two surveys

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are collaborating with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) to identify the research priorities of certified organic producers, as well as producers transitioning land to certified organic production.

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News

Our Public Benefit Report

Iroquois Valley is proud to release its first public benefit report. We incorporated our company as a public benefit corporation in 2016 to build into our structure our intent to create public benefit. We intend to create public benefit by enabling healthy food production, restoring soil, and improving water quality through the establishment of secure […]

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What We're Reading

Flour Shortage? Amber Waves of Regional Grains to the Rescue

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been highly visible in the food system. Amy Halloran writes on the grain economy in her latest for Civil Eats, highlighting the role of small and regional mills in supplying flour during this crisis.

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