ESMC Board of Directors

Chad Ellis

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Chad Ellis assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust in March of 2020, leading the organization in its mission to conserve the Texas heritage of agricultural lands, wildlife habitats and natural resources. Prior to that, Ellis served as Industry Relations and Stewardship Manager at the Noble Research Institute (NRI) in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he focused on the important role of stewardship in agriculture production for long-term sustainability in our country and created opportunities for the advancement of stewardship principles. He first came to NRI in 2012 as a pasture and range consultant, working directly with agricultural producers in the southern Oklahoma area. Previously, he spent 10 years working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), as regional rangeland management specialist for the 15 central states. Ellis also served as a district conservationist in Texas and state range conservationist in Florida.

Ellis not only promotes and advocates land stewardship principles, he also implements it within his own family operation in Lohn, Texas. Mr. Ellis is passionate on helping empower the producer to be better tomorrow than they are today. He provides this passion and leadership as chairman of the National Grazing Lands Coalition (NatGLC), a producer lead organization. NatGLC supports voluntary ecologically and economically sound management of all grazing lands for their adaptive uses and multiple benefits to the environment and society through science based technical assistance, research and education.

Kris Johnson, Ph.D.

kjohnson_photoKris Johnson, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director for the North America Agriculture Program of The Nature Conservancy. In this role he leads efforts to integrate science into collaborations with public and private partners to catalyze conservation and improved agricultural management across North America. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kris was the Sustainability Scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and an MS and PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, where his dissertation research focused on ecosystem services in agriculture. Kris was a Fulbright Scholar, a MacArthur Scholar, and remains a Senior Fellow in Sustainable Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota.

Mary Jane Melendez

Mary Jane Melendez is Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer for General Mills. She also serves as President of the General Mills Foundation.
Mary Jane stewards the company’s sustainability and philanthropy efforts, working closely with Supply Chain, Sourcing, the Foundation and other key business leaders to develop, coordinate and execute programs to achieve companywide targets. Mary Jane is responsible for advancing collaboration to drive change by promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices across our entire value chain, from farm to fork and beyond. Her role combines accountability for taking care of our planet and nourishing our communities to amplify the impact of General Mills as a global force for good. Mary Jane serves on the boards of Partners in Food Solutions and the Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundation.

Mary Jane’s strategic business leadership was recently recognized by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as a 2018 40 Under 40 Award Winner. She was named one of Latino Leaders’ Top Latina Executives in Corporate America in 2018. Mary Jane earned both her MBA and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

Debbie Reed

Debbie Reed is the Executive Director of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC), and has been engaged in the development of the ESM program since its inception.  Besides serving on the ESM Steering Committee, she has been the lead consultant in charge of developing the ESM protocols and pilot project development. She has decades of experience in carbon and ecosystem service markets for agriculture, including supporting the development of cost-effective tools, protocols, programs and policies that benefit farmers and ranchers.  As the Executive Director of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG) since 2009, Reed has worked to innovate carbon and ecosystem service markets opportunities that work for farmers and ranchers. C-AGG is the leading US multi-stakeholder organization focused on creating voluntary, sustainable incentive-based climate change mitigation and ecosystem service market opportunities for the agricultural sector. C-AGG catalyzes change by convening stakeholders to forge successful programs, tools and methods to mitigate climate change and deliver ecosystem services to society. These programs enable farmers and ranchers to become more efficient, productive, profitable, and sustainable. Reed serves as the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture; and is an Agriculture Technical Working Group expert for the Climate Bond Initiative.

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