Kim Alexander, Auditor, was raised on a mixed livestock and crop farm in Iowa. In 1980, he graduated with a B.Sc. in Agriculture Education from Iowa State University before embarking on a long and interesting career in agriculture, starting as a beginner farmer and agriculture instructor. In the 1980s, Kim pioneered a pasture-based layer, broiler, turkey and grass finished beef farming operation in central Texas, processing the poultry on-farm and direct marketing the eggs and meat to local customers – an approach almost unheard of at the time. Since then he has given presentations at numerous sustainable agriculture meetings across the country. Working as a part-time AWA auditor, Kim continues to farm pasture-based cattle, sheep, broilers and pork in western Iowa.
Karen Anderson, Auditor, originates from Kansas, where frequent visits to her family’s Century farm provided her early agricultural experience. She received her D.V.M. from Kansas State University and has over 20 years experience in veterinary practice. In recent years, she enjoyed keeping her own small flock of egg-laying hens, and has pursued her interest in poultry health and welfare through supplemental courses at the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Animal Sciences. She is pleased to be part of Animal Welfare Approved’s auditor team, and to support farmers who value animal welfare as an essential part of their livelihood.
Anna Bassett, Lead Technical Advisor, is a professionally qualified and highly experienced sustainable livestock specialist with extensive knowledge and skills across a wide range of farmed species. Anna has proven success in a range of areas from practical farm management to project management and consultancy with excellent ability in provision and dissemination of information. Anna has a degree in agriculture, 10 years experience as a farm manager overseeing a range of species and cropping enterprises, four years experience working for the UK’s largest organic certifier – the Soil Association, and now offers advice, support and technical training for the AWA program.
Katie Baumer, Communications Associate, is a proud New Jersey native and loyal Terps fan. Before joining AWA in April 2012, she worked at a PR firm in New York. She is excited to use her communication background to help grow the message of AWA and communicate the benefits of sustainable farming and importance of high-welfare treatment of farm animals to the public. As a University of Maryland, College Park graduate with a B.A. in Communication and Psychology, she’s thrilled to return to the D.C. area and embark on her new career combining both her personal interests and professional skill set.
Dr. Jennifer Burton, DVM, Auditor, earned her DVM at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to that, Dr. Burton worked for ten years in human healthcare including rural emergency response, farm rescue and hospital care. Her medical training builds on a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology to create a focus on sustainable medicine and food systems. Dr. Burton’s veterinary interests lie at the intersection of food animal medicine and public health, and include alternative livestock systems, integrative medicine, occupational health for producers and production animals, and ecosystem health. In addition to private veterinary practice, she works with the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct ecological research using agent-based modeling. She also teaches undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students and community members in topic areas relating to sustainable food systems and integrative medicine. Dr. Burton founded and currently advises the student branch of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and serves the AHVMA as a committee chair.
Dr. Jan Busboom, Auditor, is a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at Washington State University (WSU). In addition to his training and experience as a meat scientist and extension meat specialist, he has significant experience in beef, sheep, and swine production. He is a leader of the Western (US) Regional Beef Quality Assurance Program and the WSU Meat Animal Product Quality and Safety Team, as well as a member of the WSU Grass-fed Beef Production Systems Team. Jan was one of the leaders in the production of the Youth Quality Assurance and Animal Care Program published by Ohio State University. Jan and his wife, Janice, have a flock of 37 cross-bred ewes. They sell primarily project lambs for 4H and FFA projects and try to model and teach quality assurance and humane care practices to these young producers.
Eve Cohen, Farmer and Market Outreach Coordinator, is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area who developed an interest in food, sustainability, and agriculture at an early age. With a background in marketing and consumer education for organic food companies, Eve now works with AWA to encourage new farmers to join the program and to support them through consumer outreach.
Lance Gegner, Auditor, is an auditor for the Animal Welfare Approved program. He audits farms and attends agricultural conferences. He previously operated a farm in Minnesota, where he bred and raised pigs from birth to market and raised various crops for feed and sale. He worked for Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas for 20 years, advising members and writing publications on sustainable and organic farming and marketing for crop and livestock farmers all over the United States.
Andrew Gunther, Program Director, joined the Animal Welfare Approved program in April 2008 as program director. Previously, he was the senior global animal compassionate product procurement and development specialist for Whole Foods Market, leading the team that designed and launched the company’s five-step welfare program in the United Kingdom. From a truly agricultural background, Andrew, with his wife and children, pioneered the world’s first organic poultry hatchery for chickens. The Gunther family also managed the production for the largest independent organic chicken producer in the United Kingdom.
As Program Director for Animal Welfare Approved, Andrew has spearheaded the program’s unprecedented growth, increasing the number of approved farms tenfold, promoting farm viability for humane livestock farmers and growing market strength. The Animal Welfare Approved standards have been rated “most stringent” in both 2008 and 2009 by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Andrew also works with restaurants groups and retailers to increase the availability of Animal Welfare Approved meat, dairy and eggs in traditional retail settings. Andrew is currently part of the Texas State Board of Agriculture’s organic advisory board and a member of the American Association of Agricultural scientists.
Karen Haverinen Lehto, Auditor, grew up on a family dairy farm in northern Minnesota where she had a small, free-range, farrow to finish hog operation. She graduated from Ridgewater College with a degree in Farm Operations and Management (Dairy Emphasis). She also owns a certified organic dairy farm and rotational grazes 70 crossbred cows.
Charlie Hester, Auditor, was raised on his family’s farm in New Mexico. After graduating with at BBA, he left New Mexico and entered corporate America. After 30 years he has returned to his roots. Charlie currently lives in Texas where he serves as Business Manager of a vertically integrated family owned food distribution network which includes a grassfed/natural ranch operation, organic farm, meat processing plant, health food store/restaurant, and direct marketing at 14 area farmers’ markets. This ranch encompasses a sustainable cattle, hog, sheep, poultry and organic produce operation.
Tim Holmes, Lead Auditor, is a graduate of East Carolina University with a B.S. in industrial engineering technology. With more than 24 years experience as an outdoor pasture pig farmer, Tim is well-suited to inspect and verify compliance of participating farms with Animal Welfare Approved standards. He enjoys working with farmers in the program to help ensure animal well-being.
Emily Lancaster, Lead Farmer and Market Outreach Coordinator, serves the Animal Welfare Approved program in farmer and market outreach. She is a frequent guest of farm groups, agricultural conferences, and other food-related events. Emily works to recruit farmers to be a part of the Animal Welfare Approved program, and to support those farmers through her outreach to consumers. She believes strongly that consumer education is the key to keeping high welfare family farmers in our communities.
Tim Linquist, Auditor, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2000. He was born and raised on a cattle ranch in northern California and has been involved in animal production for his entire life including chickens, pigs, sheep, cattle and now goats. Tim has worked in the meat industry for the past 10 years and currently runs 300 meat goats for weed and brush control and is developing niche markets for restaurants and specialty shops. His wife Lynda and their two sons operate the family’s meat goat operation in Wilder, Idaho.
Richard Long, Auditor, grew up on a family dairy farm in Western New York and received a Bachelors of Science degree in Animal Science from North Carolina State University. After graduating he returned home and operated the family farm in partnership with his father. Next, he returned to school to get an additional BS degree in Chemical Engineering and worked in industry for several years. Now that he’s retired he is very excited to return to the agricultural world as an auditor for Animal Welfare Approved. In his spare time he also assists with local youth programs and is leader of the local 4-H Sheep Club. Richard and his family currently maintain a flock of registered Lincoln Longwool sheep for show and for wool production.
Frank Morison, Auditor, is an auditor for the Animal Welfare Approved program. He was raised on a family farm in Maryland producing poultry, cattle, hogs, corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay and eventually took over the farm. Frank has participated in a horse rescue program for race horses and adopted two horses who are now a part of the family farm. He also works with various sustainable agricultural groups who utilize his technological knowledge and experience. He attends conferences and meetings related to building local food systems and is assisting on a project working toward building local food production.
Chi-Chi Okpalanma, Program Assistant, graduated from George Washington University (GWU) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Geography. She loves animals and is passionate about improving sustainable living and public health, particularly from a food systems perspective. Before coming to AWA, she was an administrative aide in an academic department at GWU. Chi-Chi’s role is to help ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of the program’s key administrative systems, as well as to provide logistical support to AWA’s Farmer Market and Outreach team.
Stan Pace, Auditor, joined Animal Welfare Approved as an auditor in July of 2010. Stan grew up on a family farm in Mississippi that raised poultry and cattle. After getting his B.S. in Animal Science from MSU in 1987 and a M.S degree in Agriculture Education from Oklahoma State University in 1992 he worked with various large agriculture corporations in the poultry industry. In 2007 after resigning as an Extension Agent in Mississippi, Stan, his wife, Kathy, and their 4 children purchased a farm and began producing and selling grass finished, all natural beef in central Kentucky. Additionally, since 2007, he has worked with various sustainable agricultural groups in an effort to promote sustainable local foods and family farms.
Christine Peckham, Corrective Action Plan Coordinator, holds a M.S. degree in Geology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Previously, Chris performed technical and regulatory reviews of hazardous waste management facility permit applications and provided guidance and support for those facilities seeking permits. She also has extensive experience in the review, approval, and oversight of the implementation of corrective action plans for the remediation of contaminated soil and ground water at hazardous waste management facilities. Agriculturally, Chris worked as a scout for a crop management consulting firm, identifying and reporting insect and weed pests, plant diseases, mineral deficiencies, and any other potential negative impacts on corn, soybean, and wheat crops.
Kenneth Smith, Slaughter Specialist, holds a Master’s of Science in Animal Welfare and Behavioral Psychology, along with degrees in Animal Science and History. Ken has worked in various areas of animal agriculture, including processing facilities where he gained experience in all areas of operations. He also has experience in dairy, pigs and cattle. His background and experience allow him to understand the challenges of the meat industry and seek out ways to improve welfare and handling, for both animals and employees.
Rob Stokes, Auditor, graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in Animal Science production. For 13 years, he managed beef cattle operations for Niman Ranch. He and his family have spent the past year in Eastern Oregon raising meat goats for range restoration and developing a niche market into the restaurant trade, while running a Small cow/calf operation on their ranch. Rob serves the Animal Welfare Approved program as an auditor, bringing the experience and desire to help producers expand their knowledge of sustainable agriculture and animal welfare issues.
Beth Spitler, Farmer and Market Outreach Coordinator, is a lifelong Californian whose earliest memories are of listening to her father ruminate about his cattle ranching days and the need to preserve farm land. Before joining AWA she worked on organic farms and taught youth and adults about food and farming. Beth is a passionate believer that education is key to the preservation and support of high-welfare animal agriculture and enjoys working with AWA to bring new farmers into the program and teach consumers about the benefits of high-welfare animal agriculture.
Julie Suarez, Program Coordinator, holds a B.A. and M.A. in Latin American Studies. She acts as the first point of contact for interested farmers and coordinates applications, farm audits, and the approval process. Julie is an experienced non-profit program manager, previously working in the fields of language services and human rights.
Wendy Swann, Educational Outreach Coordinator, joined Animal Welfare Approved in May 2010 and brings over 10 years of experience in animal protection. She is passionate about building partnerships with schools as well as community and agricultural organizations to engage children and young adults in the discussion about food and advocate for compassionate treatment of farm animals and environmentally conscious family farming.
Erika Voogd, Voogd Consulting, Inc., has over 25 years experience in the meat industry, specializing in global assistance to meat processors and producers. Her areas of expertise include animal welfare, food safety, HACCP, quality assurance, sanitation and USDA regulations. Since 1999, she has worked closely with Dr. Temple Grandin and McDonald’s during the implementation of the McDonald’s System Animal Welfare Goals in Asia, Australia, Latin America and North America. She has assisted Dr. Grandin during training of auditors in Asia, Australia, Brazil and North America and has independently taught McDonald’s System auditors in Canada and Latin America. Recent assignments include training on behalf of the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service to prepare meat plants for export to the United States. Erika evaluates and advises plants that are visited as part of the Animal Welfare Approved program.
Mick Weirich, Auditor, grew up on a farm in western Michigan where he raised Hereford cattle, pigs and a small dairy herd. The land was also used to raise wheat, corn and hay. Mick received a BS and DVM from Michigan State University and practiced veterinary medicine in the Buffalo, NY area until moving back to Michigan where he helped out at an animal clinic during the summer. His interests include flying, golf and veterinary medicine work. He enjoys farm visits, meeting AWA farmers and their families, and observing the variety of farming methods.
Wendy Weirich, Auditor, received her BS and DVM degrees from Michigan State University. She has worked for the last several years in many aspects of small and large animal welfare including projects in nutrition, behavior, housing and overall well-being. She is certified in medical acupuncture for veterinarians and is working on a Master’s Degree in livestock health and production. Wendy lives on a farm where she raises and cares for Nigerian dwarf goats, American Mammoth donkeys and Dominique chickens. She enjoys bringing together veterinary and animal husbandry skills to help elevate the level of welfare available to all kinds of animals – and people too.