Mark Schultz Retiring After 3 Decades with the Land Stewardship Project
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A veteran advocate for independent family farmers and sustainable rural communities has been named as the Land Stewardship Project’s new executive director, the organization’s board of directors announced today. Jess Anna Glover will take over from Mark Schultz, who is wrapping up a three-decade career with the nonprofit, membership-based farm organization. Glover will also serve as director of the Land Stewardship Action Fund (LSAF), a sister organization to the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) that works to promote and expand people-powered organizing in the context of public elections.
“Jess Anna is excited to jump in and work hard as LSP’s executive director, and we are excited to have her,” said LSP board chair Jody Lenz. “I can think of no one better suited to take on the challenges and opportunities our members, staff and organization as a whole have in front of us.”
LSP’s board of directors undertook an extensive executive director search during the past six months that produced an impressive pool of 32 highly qualified candidates, according to Dan McGrath, who led the board’s transition committee.
“The input of board members, staff and leaders gave us a clear idea of the kind of leadership the Land Stewardship Project needs to take on the farm crisis and advance our work to support a positive future for agriculture and our rural communities,” said McGrath. “Jess Anna’s energy, insight and managerial skills are exactly what we need at this critical time.”
Glover grew up in the southeastern Minnesota community of Stewartville in a family of farmers and community leaders. Raised by a single mother who was a teacher and founder of the town historical society, Glover learned the importance of being a part of a rural community. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota Law School and was a Policy Fellow with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Glover started her legal career focused on numerous agricultural issues while with Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG) in Saint Paul. Among other issues, she worked on corporate concentration in agriculture, equitable federal disaster assistance, federal farmer lending programs and immigrant farmer outreach.
While with FLAG, Glover also served on a team of attorneys that challenged the federal commodity checkoff program, which farmers, including LSP members, had maintained was forcing them to support a type of agricultural model that was putting them out of business. That case, which LSP and other members of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment were deeply involved in, eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004.
“Working on a free speech case that went all the way to the Supreme Court made it clear to me early in my career the enormity of the forces that are working against farmers and the price we all pay when these forces prevail,” said Glover. “That’s why I’m committed to working with LSP’s members and staff to fight for the people who are the pillars of our rural communities and stewards of the land: independent farmers.”
She spent more than a decade with Education Minnesota, a statewide member-run organization, representing teachers and school employees. Most recently, Glover was the executive director of MENTOR Minnesota, which supports over 200 mentoring programs throughout the state.
Glover is a passionate advocate, and has long been engaged in direct public policy work and with issue and candidate campaigns. She brings with her an extensive knowledge of organizations that, like LSP, are based on membership and coalition building.
In 2019, Schultz announced his intention to retire as LSP’s executive director after more than 30 years of working for the organization in various capacities. He created and directed LSP’s nationally-recognized Policy and Organizing Program, and served as the organization’s associate director before taking over as executive director in 2017.
During his tenure as the head of the organization, Schultz deepened LSP's involvement in work related to soil health, racial justice and corporate accountability. He also spearheaded the creation of the Land Stewardship Action Fund. Shortly before he announced his retirement, Schultz worked with members and staff to create “Vision for the Future: Stewardship, Justice, Democracy, Health and Community,” a long-range plan that lays out the organization’s priorities for the next five years.
“I am extremely excited to have someone like Jess Anna leading LSP’s efforts to execute the long-range plan and make it a part of our work,” said Schultz, who will step down as executive director later this month. “I applaud LSP’s board and its transition committee for finding someone so qualified to lead the organization and so committed to the work that needs to be done.”
Glover will be the fourth executive director the organization has had since it was founded in 1982. Besides Schultz, LSP has been led by Ron Kroese, who co-founded the organization, and George Boody.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Mark Schultz cannot be replaced,” said Glover. “The passion, commitment and leadership he brought to this work was unparalleled. However, demand for the work and expertise and leadership of LSP continues, and I’m committed to advancing these efforts as this organization and its members look to the future.”
Glover, who will begin her duties at the end of April, lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Sam, and daughters, Caroline and Alexandra.
The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture, and to develop healthy communities. LSP has offices in the Minnesota communities of Lewiston (507-523-3366), Montevideo (320-269-2105), and Minneapolis (612-722-6377). More on LSP is at www.landstewardshipproject.org.