About Us

The Quivira Coalition consists of a small staff, a dedicated board, dozens of volunteers, numerous family ranchers and farmers, conservationists, scientists and public land managers, hundreds of members, and thousands of others touched by our work.  What we all have in common is a dedication to building economic and ecological resilience on western working landscapes.



Sarah Wentzel-Fisher

Executive Director

Sarah has worked in food and agriculture planning for the past seven years with a focus on supporting young and beginning farmers and ranchers. She was the editor of Edible Santa Fe from 2011 to 2017. From 2013 to 2015 she worked for the National Young Farmers Coalition as an organizer and is currently the board president of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust. She is a committed champion of the local food movement and of resilient agriculture demonstrated by her work with La Montanita Co-op, New Mexico’s longest running and largest member Co-op, by co-founding the Albuquerque Grower’s Alliance, and through her graduate research in small-scale agriculture in the region. In her free time she enjoys visiting farms and ranches, experimenting in her kitchen, and keeping chickens in her backyard.

Mollie Walton

Land and Water Program Director

Mollie, who has a PhD in Biology from the University of Dayton in Ohio, was a volunteer with Quivira for many years before she joined our staff in 2012 as the new Land and Water Program Director. She is a restoration ecologist with a Texas ranching background and has worked in Northern New Mexico since 2006 doing riparian restoration, monitoring, consulting, and research. She brings experience in hands-on restoration work as well as collaborative land management projects on public and private lands.


Monica Pless

New Agrarian Program Coodinator

Monica joined Quivira to lead the New Agrarian Program. She has worked on farms since 2004, and apprenticed on a CSA in rural Massachusetts, raising produce, tree fruit, beef, pork, and eggs. More recently, she has worked on dairies, orchards, and lots of produce operations, and for the last three years she managed the farm at EarthDance Organic Farm School near St. Louis, Missouri. There she taught apprentices about vegetable CSA production, poultry, keyline swales, pawpaws and persimmons, bench top greenhouse heating, and cover cropping. In her free time she’s exploring the mountains, making salves, or attempting to grow her sixty favorite vegetables in a backyard garden instead of on a farm.

Nick Mendoza

Conference Coordinator

Nick comes from a diverse background that includes biology, conservation, aquaculture, and a lifetime of summers spent working the land on his grandparents’ cattle ranch in the Gila Wilderness. After studying Biology/ Environmental and Marine Resources and getting a graduate degree in Sustainable Aquaculture, Nick worked as a scientist in Scotland, Honduras, Mexico, and Monterey, California, but always made it back to brand and mend fences at the ranch. He is excited to have landed back in the Southwest.


Lynne Whitbeck

Communications Coordinator

Lynne has worked in food and farming since 2005. She started off as a farm apprentice on an organic farm in Washington State and went on to manage farms in Oregon and Hawaii. After receiving a degree in Anthropology, she traveled the world with the intent to better understand how people connect to their natural environments. Lynne moved to New Mexico in 2010 and pursued another passion, horses. Since then, she and her horse Helios have been working at the challenging and rewarding task of interspecies communication. In addition to her work at Quivira, she currently instructs kids and adults in the art of horsemanship and in personal development. She is inspired by good food, community, time spent in nature, and independent films.

Alyson Gilman

Business Manager

Born and raised in Iowa and with a degree in public relations, Alyson Gilman launched her career in Chicago working in media relations and sales training. In 1996, she relocated to Abiquiu, New Mexico to live and learn farming and ranching. Her consulting business, Real Communication, has served a variety of industries, including restaurants, ranches, homebuilders, healthcare, artists, authors, animal trainers, caterers, and coffee roasters. Since 2007, Alyson and her husband Henry Gilman have operated a family farm near Cerrillos, New Mexico, raising chickens, goats, and pigs to produce eggs, cheese, milk, and meat for their family and their neighborhood cooperative.


Kit Brewer

Office Administrator

Kit has dedicated her professional life to creative nonprofit programs in support of education and the environment. She is a New Mexico native with a master’s degree in liberal arts and decades of experience as executive assistant, program director, and development director for local organizations. She is also a professional grant writer, editor, and copyeditor.



Kate Greenberg


Kate Greenberg is the Western Program Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). She organizes young farmers and ranchers across the West, advocates for supportive policy, and promotes land and water stewardship. Prior to joining NYFC, Kate worked on multiple CSA farms, canoe guided in Minnesota, managed western environmental policy field programs, and restored riparian habitat in Mexico’s Colorado River Delta. She graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Environmental-Humanities, and is pleasantly surprised that she gets to put her degree to use everyday. She currently lives in Durango, Colorado.

Julia Davis Stafford

Vice President

Julia Davis Stafford is a fourth-generation rancher and farmer, raised on her family’s CS Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico where she grew up working with her parents and five siblings in their beef cattle operation. After practicing law for several years, Julia decided that what she really wanted was to return to the ranch and work with her family. The CS operation practices planned grazing management and has diversified into guided hunting, custom grazing and farming. Improving soil health, water quality, animal handling skills, supporting thriving rural communities and passing along the land and livelihood to the next generation are what get her up in the morning.  Julia has been a member of the Quivira Coalition since its beginning and is a dedicated member of the radical center.

Michael Scisco


Michael currently serves as General Manager of Unique Places LLC, a private landowner consulting firm, and is a licensed Qualifying Real Estate Broker in New Mexico at Terra Alta Real Estate Services. Michael has generous experience in business development, real estate, ecological services, and land and resource conservation. He also served for 10 years in the land trust industry and worked to conserve over 160,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and North Carolina.

Gavin Van Horn


Gavin Van Horn is the Director of Cultures of Conservation at the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization that explores the moral dimensions of human relationships to the natural world. He is the co-editor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Wildness: Relations of People and Place (University of Chicago Press, 2017). He is currently working on a book of creative nonfiction, The Channel Coyotes: Otherworlds of the Urban Wild. You can find out more about Gavin at www.storyforager.com.

Terry Brunner

Board Member

Terry Brunner, the Chief Program Officer at Grow New Mexico, is the former New Mexico State Director for USDA Rural Development. In this position he oversaw five field offices and the state office located in Albuquerque which administers and manages more than 87 housing, business, and community infrastructure and community facility programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities. Terry managed a grant, loan, and loan guarantee portfolio of more than $1.5 billion in New Mexico and has visited more than 160 New Mexico communities during his appointment.

Nancy Ranney

Board Member

Nancy Ranney spent her childhood years on a farm in northern Illinois raising and showing horses and came to New Mexico as a teen when her parents bought a ranch near Corona. She has a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (MLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.) She manages the Ranney Ranch for the Ranney family; inspired by the Quivira Coalition, and has instituted regenerative range management practices and land conservation partnerships. She also manages the Ranney Ranch Grassfed/Grassfinished Beef program and is currently President of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance (SWGLA) and a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.

Tracey Ryder

Board Member

Tracey Ryder co-founded Edible Communities, Inc., the nation’s largest publishing company dedicated to the local foods movement, in 2002, with her partner, Carole Topalian. The company currently publishes 95 titles across North America, including Edible Boston, Edible San Francisco, and Edible Vancouver, and is currently adding new magazines at a rate of 6 per year. The content for each publication is region-specific and focuses on the farmers, fishermen, ranchers, chefs, and food artisans from each area. Ms. Ryder has worked as a journalist, marketer, and graphic designer for the culinary, tourism, and agriculture industries for nearly 30 years. She is a regular speaker at conferences and events in the culinary and publishing fields. Her first book, “Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods,” was published by John Wiley & Sons in April 2010. Today, Ryder lives and works a small farm where she raises row crops and flowers in Dixon, New Mexico.

Sam Ryerson

Board Member

Sam Ryerson is a rancher based in central New Mexico, leasing and managing ranches in the Southwest. He grew up in Massachusetts and since 2005 has worked on horseback range-based ranches throughout the West. He is a graduate (in 2010) of Quivira’s ranch management apprenticeship program. He is also on the board of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance.