Anna is no stranger to tension. She embraces it intentionally by bringing empathy to complex relationships that are strained by social and cultural narratives that tell us we can’t, won’t and shouldn’t get along. She leads with conviction that the deeply personal is universal; that people are complex, emotional beings; and that one of the most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.
Raised on her family’s farm in western Minnesota, Anna learned how to understand a place and a people not through facts but through feelings. She subconsciously mastered what it is to deeply understand something through the senses — to smell the rain that was yet to appear on the horizon, to feel the tension in the town cafe before she knew what the farm crisis was, to hear stress versus contentment in a cow’s bellar.
“I am an expert in…connecting rural-urban identities, fears and hopes.
I teach people how to… care for one another, despite their differences.
I help people… feel heard, understood and valued.
I design experiences that enable people to... move to action on climate change.”
Anna trained as a landscape architect and practiced in the field of urban design and land-use planning for nearly a decade. To more deliberately bridge a life deeply rooted on her family’s active Minnesota farm, she shifted her life’s work from designing the built environment to influencing the political and structural systems that impact our rural landscape and people. As Director of Rural Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Anna worked locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.
As a Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow Anna is driven and supported to turn her inspired idea in the field of social justice into a world-changing reality to combat issues of inequality and climate change. She founded Voices for Rural Resilience to stand in her commitment to facilitate the social change necessary to protect and heal our natural world. To lead with empathy. To shift the way people think and feel about climate change, and about each other, and empower rural communities to engage in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. She leads this effort from Minnesota, where she and her husband and their two young children call home.
Anna on the farm in western Minnesota with her father and daughter.