Wes King is the Interim Executive Director for Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA). Wes joined ISA in the Spring of 2009 as Policy Coordinator and later as Policy Director, in January of 2013 he started work as ISA's Interim Executive Director. Beyond executive management functions, the focus of his work is developing and monitoring sustainable agriculture and local food related legislation in Springfield and at the Federal Level. In addition, Wes is working on organizing and building the capacity of grassroots stakeholders to influence food and farm related policy decisions. On the national level, Wes serves as the co-chair for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Marketing, Food Systems, and Rural Development Committee.
Prior to joining ISA, Wes was an organizer at the Illinois Environmental Council conducting organizing and policy work for a statewide coalition of environmental organizations. Wes has a BA in Political Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) and an MA in Political Studies from UIS. While working on his MA, Wes interned at the Illinois EPA and studied the effects of globalization on agriculture in Latin America. In his free time, Wes enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking and organic gardening.
Drew Thomason came to ISA in 2012 in the newly created position of Outreach Coordinator. In the position, Drew works with farmers, chefs and others to promote local food and conservation on Illinois farmland. Drew is the media contact for ISA, and works with local news outlets to get the word out about the importance of local food systems and conservation practices in Illinois.
Before coming to ISA, Drew covered the Illinois General Assembly as a reporter. Drew has a B.A. in journalism from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Drew is rural Illinois born and raised, living in both western Illinois and east central Illinois. He is steeped in agriculture and has a passion for good, local food. Drew picked up his mother's passion for cooking and father’s passion for gardening at an early age. He went on to the more labor intensive jobs of detassling corn, walking beans, baling hay and working on farm equipment at a John Deere dealership before starting his tenure in journalism.
Most Wednesday and Saturday mornings he and his wife Jamey can be found at a farmers’ market, gawking at all the beautiful food.
Dee Carlson began her time as the ISA office manager with over 20 years of management experience. Her employment history includes 12 years of office management with payroll and bookkeeping experience, and a strong work ethic. Dee’s diversified work background and skills will be a valued asset at ISA.
Dee is excited about facing new challenges and using her organizational abilities in her new work environment. She has always been interested in learning and getting involved and hopes her employment at ISA will continue to challenge her growth.
When Dee’s not working, you can find her enjoying time with her family and being outdoors. The love of nature combined with the desire to learn more about healthy eating and organic gardening lead Dee to the ISA, which offered her the opportunity to use her skills and fulfill her passion to contribute. ISA’s local food campaigns, support of small farms and initiatives to develop local food systems will provide a way to get involved.
Jen brings 15 years of project management experience in conservation and sustainable agriculture. Jen came to ISA from The Nature Conservancy in Iowa where conservation and agriculture are dependent upon each other. Over the last 5 years, she built the Iowa Chapter's freshwater program by working with farmers, landowners and agency partners on practices that achieve agricultural productivity and freshwater conservation at the watershed scale. Prior to TNC, Jen was a wildlife biologist for the Lake County Forest Preserve District north of Chicago. She has a B.S. in Ecology from Northern Michigan University and a M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Jen is an avid cyclist and backpacker. She also loves to travel, having traveled extensively in Latin America, including a 3 month volunteer position surveying mammals in the Peruvian rainforest. Jen, her husband Pete, and their two dogs, Iggy and Keema, live in Bloomington, where Pete teaches agriculture at Illinois State, and the dogs lay around the couch all day. Jen will provide leadership for our conservation program work, focusing on fostering the adoption of pragmatic, sustainable agricultural practices in all types of farming operations.