Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
MS Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont
BS Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison


I grew up on a hobby farm near Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, where we grew and raised our own food and where I learned to hunt and fish and wander in the woods. Over the past many years, I lived around the country, in California, Georgia, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and abroad for field research. I am very happy to return home to the ‘north woods’ and to be working with the Center for Rural Communities doing research I care about in a place I care about.


I am interested in the political economy of socio-ecological systems, and in particular, how rural communities can protect and help manage their natural environment for improved quality of life. Typical measures of economic development do not take into account many of the things that matter most, such as clean water and air, healthy food, spiritual fulfillment, and time with family and friends. The goal of my research is to re-conceptualize ‘economy’ and ‘development’ to better reflect these aspects of life.

My research at the Center for Rural Communities explores how to support and expand a robust, sustainable and inclusive local food economy. I also focus on non-market values surrounding food, water and forests that contribute to individual and community well-being, and how those values might be threatened by climate change and exploitative economic pressures.

Prior to my work at the Center for Rural Communities, I conducted research internationally in the Greater Caucasus in the Republic of Georgia, where I captured household and community livelihood dependence on the surrounding forests, which were under threat by large-scale commercial tourism development. After that, I studied community-managed forests in the Transylvanian Alps of Romania. I also taught at Bennington College in Vermont for two years where I offered courses such as Redefining Economic Development, Communities and the Environment, and History of Economic Transitions.

Personal Interests

My partner Sean and I enjoy cooking, biking, running, cross-country skiing, hiking, gardening, hunting, and swimming in the Lake. We also spend a lot of time with our two spaniels, Arlo and Juniper.