Christopher Zuehlsdorff

Christopher Zuehlsdorff

Chief Executive Officer

About Chris

Chris serves as Chief Executive Officer at Iroquois Valley, where he combines his investment management experience and personal background in support of the strategic vision of the organization. Prior to joining Iroquois Valley, Chris was
Senior Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Investments at EnTrust Global, an alternative investment firm based in New York. He was a member of the Management Committee and the Global Investment Committee. As a senior investment professional, Chris covered most asset classes and investment strategies across both public and private markets.

Chris grew up on a family dairy farm in Minnesota and maintained an interest in food and agriculture throughout his career. Since 2016, Chris has been a board member at The Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, a non-profit organization supporting regional food and farming in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Chris graduated with an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Carnegie Mellon University in 2003 and a BA in Economics and Mathematics from Saint Olaf College in 1998. He is a CFA® Charterholder. Chris and his family reside in Westchester County, NY. Outside of work, Chris enjoys traveling, gardening and hiking with his wife, three sons, and dog, Bruce

Mark Schindel

Mark Schindel

Chief Financial Officer

About Mark

As Chief Financial 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.

Arnold Lau - COO

Arnold Lau

Chief Administrative Officer

About Arnold

Arnold (“Arnie”) 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. Arnie reports directly to the CEO; and coordinates his duties with the CFO. Arnie also supports development of offering materials, investment sales and investor relations.

Arnie 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.

About Claire Mesesan

Claire Mesesan

Chief of Staff

About Claire

Claire is Chief of Staff where she is responsible for the execution of Iroquois Valley’s strategic initiatives. Her work includes impact strategy, evaluation, and reporting in support of the company’s efforts to create public benefit.

From 2021 to 2023, Claire was Vice President, Farmer Relations where her work centered on Iroquois Valley’s engagement with farmers. She focused on building out farmer relations through process, program development, and resource-building, including by growing the farmer relations team. Claire joined Iroquois Valley in 2015 as Communications Director where she created mission-driven, data-informed content across platforms. 

Claire earned her bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and French from Loyola University Chicago. Within philosophy, Claire was interested in the ways that land stewardship and land-based ethics intersect with social and political movements. After graduation, she spent a year in Madison, WI working as an AmeriCorps Farm-to-School educator. Claire lives in southern California where she enjoys gardening and all things outdoors. 

Donna Holmes

Donna Holmes

Managing Director, Investor Relations

About Donna

In Donna’s role at Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, she shares the Company’s vision and investment strategy with investors and prospects. She is responsible for expanding our investor base by building a community of like-minded investors. Donna is passionate about creating an opportunity for all people to reap the health benefits of nutritional food, grown in a sustainable and socially just society. Using her knowledge of finance and investing, Donna structures investment vehicles to address investors’ different needs and goals. She believes in Iroquois Valley’s triple bottom line principles, actively securing social, environmental, and financial returns for our investors.

Prior to joining Iroquois Valley, Donna served in business development and investor relations roles at three alternative asset management firms. Before working in finance, she practiced law, specializing in tax and ERISA matters.

Donna earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Syracuse University, a Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University, College of Law, and a Master of Law in Taxation from New York University. She is a CAIA Charter-holder and an FSA Level 1 Certificate Holder.

About Lacey

Lacey Benz

Senior Investor Relations Associate

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.

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.

Andy Ambriole

Andy Ambriole

Managing Director, Farmland Investments

About Andy

Andy, his wife Catie, and their 4 children farm approximately 1,400 acres of certified organic land in northern Indiana. Crops grown include corn, soybeans, wheat, and barley along with numerous species of cover crops. He has been a tenant of the Company since 2012 and an equity shareholder from 2012 to 2019. He has served on the Board of Directors since Iroquois Valley’s establishment as a REIT and public benefit corporation at the end of 2016. He has also served on the Investment Committee since that committee’s establishment in 2018. Beginning in 2021, Mr. Ambriole began providing occasional due diligence support and similar services to the Company as a consultant and served as its Interim CEO from November 2021 through July 2022. His other activities include serving on his county’s Soil & Water Conservation District board and as an assistant region director for the Indiana Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts. 

Raya Carr

Raya Carr

Senior Relationship Manager

About Raya

Raya works toward a future where holistic, inclusive, organic-regenerative farming heals the farming and food ecosystem. Embracing the natural continuity from farming since childhood, Raya is honored to work as a Senior Relationship Manager at Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT. In this capacity for the last several years, Raya supports farmers across the U.S., acting as a farmer liaison helping organic farmers get the financing & land access tools they need to thrive. It gives Raya perspective to see that small and midsized organic farmers across the country often share similar challenges and aren’t alone in being up against a difficult overall food system to exist and run a business in. But she is encouraged also to witness the unique solutions each farm business narrows in on, and she is inspired by farmers’ & ranchers’ perseverance as well as their great dedication to land stewardship. Raya successfully completed the 2015 Good Food Business Accelerator Program by Family Farmed, holds a Liberal Arts in Humanities degree with Great Distinction from Shimer College, and is currently pursuing her MBA in Finance at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Raya has run a seasonal farm dinner & tour series at her family’s farm in Illinois for the last decade, and on the best weekends, she still cares for the animals and pastures.  

Kavita's headshot

Drew Blankenbaker

Senior Relationship Manager

About Drew

As a Senior Relationship Manager at Iroquois Valley, Drew works directly with farmers focused on organic crop systems and ensures that they have the means to invest in their soil and business operations for the long-term. He has spent the last two decades actively engaged in agriculture and rural community development, from running a diversified vegetable and livestock operation to leading coalitions and collaboratives focused on restoring access to farmland, rebuilding agriculture’s missing middle, and revitalizing regional food economies. He is most passionate about inspiring and developing the audacious farmers and food system leaders of tomorrow. In addition to his work at Iroquois Valley, Drew serves his community as a school board trustee and holds leadership roles for various land use boards and commissions. Drew received his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. When not touring the partner farms of Iroquois Valley, Drew can be found skiing, running backcountry trails, or paddling the rivers and lakes of western Montana with his family.

Photo of Alyssa Scher

Alyssa Scher

Credit Manager

About Alyssa

In the Credit Manager position, Alyssa focuses on the financial viability and structure of all potential lending opportunities. She loves that her position helps create pathways for farmers and their families to live out their dreams and mission. Prior to joining Iroquois Valley in 2020 as an Underwriter, Alyssa worked in the tax and accounting field; specializing in tax preparation, bookkeeping and succession planning for farming operations. Alyssa holds a BS in Accounting from Ball State University. She resides in Northeast Indiana with her husband and three children where they are an active part of their family’s 4th generation farm.

Laura Temple Wesley

Laura Temple Wesley

Staff Accountant

About Laura

Laura has been a Staff Accountant with Iroquois Valley since 2021. 

About Meg Santisi

Meg Santisi

Operations Manager

About Meg

Meg has a background in non-profit development, working on behalf of art and ecology non-profits. Currently she fundraises on behalf of two artist residency programs: ACRE Residency, located in the Driftless Region of WI, and Ox-Bow School of Art, an 100+ year old residency located on a 112 acre conservation easement in Western Michigan. Prior to this, Meg worked in programming for the Graham Foundation, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and as Sales Manager for Mint Creek Farm, where she managed on-site farm dinners and Mint Creek’s CSA program. She holds an MA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where her studies focused on the intersection of art, ecology, and architecture. She is very pleased to be working with the incredible folks at Iroquois Valley.

Board of Directors

Andy Ambriole

Andy Ambriole

Board Director, MD, Farmland Investments, Farmer/Tenant

Andy, his wife Catie, and their 4 children farm approximately 1,400 acres of certified organic land in northern Indiana. Crops grown include corn, soybeans, wheat, and barley along with numerous species of cover crops. He has been a tenant of the Company since 2012 and an equity shareholder from 2012 to 2019. He has served on the Board of Directors since Iroquois Valley’s establishment as a REIT and public benefit corporation at the end of 2016. He has also served on the Investment Committee since that committee’s establishment in 2018. Beginning in 2021, Mr. Ambriole began providing occasional due diligence support and similar services to the Company as a consultant and served as its Interim CEO from November 2021 through July 2022. His other activities include serving on his county’s Soil & Water Conservation District board and as an assistant region director for the Indiana Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts. 

Anna Jones-Crabtree

Anna Jones-Crabtree

Board Vice-Chair, Stockholder, Farmer/Tenant

Anna and her husband Doug own and manage Vilicus Farms, a first generation, organic, 13,000-acre dryland crop farm in Northern Hill County, Montana growing a diverse array of organic heirloom and specialty grain, pulse, oilseed and broadleaf crops under five and seven-year rotations. In thirteen seasons, Vilicus Farms grew from 1,280 acres to be a nationally recognized farm by using USDA’s beginning farmer programs, employing extensive conservation practices, and fostering unique risk sharing relationships with food companies and land investment firms. With over 26% of their land in non-crop conservation and 400 acres seeded to native pollinator habitat Vilicus Farms became Bee Better certified in 2019, Real Organic Project Certified in 2019 and has been transitioning towards Demeter Biodynamic certification.

Anna is a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the White House Greening Government Sustainability Hero Award. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainable Systems from Georgia Institute of Technology. Anna served on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Council on Beginning Farmers & Ranchers. She currently serves on the Xerces Society Bee Better Advisory Board and on Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT’s Investment Committee.  Given the realities of farming Anna still has an off-farm job with the USDA Forest Service. After several decades fostering more sustainable operations she is now currently serving as the Director for Data Governance for the Northern Region.

Anna, Doug, and their three Jack Russell Terriers are avid members of the Lentil Underground (

Arnold Lau

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.

David Miller

David E. Miller

Stockholder, Board Director, Co-Founder

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. 

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. 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 and served as its Chief Executive Officer from its founding in 2007 through September 2021. 

DD Burlin

Dorothy D (“D.D.”) Burlin

Stockholder, Board Director

Ms. Burlin 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 singlefarm investment partnership founded by David Miller and Dr. Stephen P. Rivard which merged with Iroquois Valley Farms LLC in 2014.

As an attorney from 1992 to 2007, Ms. Burlin 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.

Ms. Burlin and her husband, Johannes, have two sons, and reside in Chicago, Illinois. They also have a small farm near Reeseville, Wisconsin. Ms. Burlin is active in non-profit and political fundraising and is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the American Youth Foundation.

Joe Mantoan

Joseph Mantoan

Stockholder, Board Director
Mr. Mantoan was raised on his immigrate grandparents’ large-scale vegetable farm in Kankakee County Illinois. There he developed a lifelong love and connection to the natural world and an appreciation and joy for family farmers and healthy communities.

Mr. Mantoan joined the multinational consulting firm Accenture in 1976 and served almost 30 years in various North American and International leadership roles. In 2004, he returned to his roots and began to work in farmland preservation and became an advocate for ecological farming. He received his BA and MA in Accounting from the University of Illinois.

Mr. Mantoan serves as Chairman of the Board of Healing Soils Foundation, and in various leadership roles at non-profit organizations including Wellspring Organic Farms, Riveredge Nature Center, and Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT since 2019.
Mr. Mantoan and his wife, Laura, own 200 acres of certified organic farmland in Washington County, Wisconsin. Since 2010, the farm has been managed by his son, based on rotational grazing and a permaculture keyline water system design. Several conservation and educational workshops have been conducted at the farm over the years. Mr. Mantoan resides in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.
Malaika Maphalala

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.

Olivia Watkins

Olivia Watkins

Board Director

Ms. Watkins is a social entrepreneur and impact investor. For the past seven years, she has financed, developed, and operated environmental and social projects across the US. She currently serves as a co-founder and President of Black Farmer Fund, a non-profit impact investing organization creating sustainable and equitable food systems by investing in black farmers and food businesses of NY. She also serves as a board member for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders and previously for Soul Fire Farm Institute. Prior to founding Black Farmer Fund in 2017, Olivia worked in several production roles at Soul Fire Farm Institute and Kahumana Organic Farms, leveraging her environmental biology background to manage and grow environmentally regenerative and socially impactful business operations.

Ms. Watkins has an MBA from North Carolina State University in Financial Management, and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Environmental Biology. She was also recognized on the 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact list and The Grist 50.

Stephen Rivard

Stephen P. Rivard, M.D.

Stockholder, 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 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 as a chance to both reclaim our health and sustainably grow capital.


2023 Holiday Gift Guide

November 30, 2023
Iroquois Valley is excited to share our annual gift guide featuring products grown by the farmers we partner with. 2023 has been a year of gratitude and community, and we hope that you have been able to appreciate local organic food, flourishing landscapes, and meaningful relationships with your communities throughout the year.


Central Grazing Co: Catalyzing land restoration by building an alternative lamb market

April 25, 2023
Jacqueline has been in search of well-aligned funders to enable land access, growth of her flocks, and sustainable, regional processing and marketing for the products produced. Jacqueline initially contacted Iroquois Valley in 2020 to learn more about our investment process and eventually requested financing to help expand her sheep flock from Central Grazing’s network of lamb producers.

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