PFU Board of Directors
HEIDI SECORD, President, Vegetable Farmer, NE
Heidi has over 16 years of farming experience and a degree in Business Management. After University, Heidi joined the Peace Corps and served for 3 years in Africa. Heidi has represented Oxfam America as a “Sister on the Planet” and continues her work with PFU lobbying for farming and food issues here in Pennsylvania and beyond…thinking globally and farming locally!
Heidi is currently on the board of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), a farmer board member for her local County Conservation District and board member of the Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO). Heidi brings her interest and experience in sustainable agriculture, policy work and organizational leadership to PFU.
MICHAEL KOVACH, Vice President, Livestock Farmer, NW
Michael Kovach, with his wife Karen and daughter Amelia raises grassfed and finished Black Angus beef and lamb, as well as non-GMO fed, pasture/silvopasture-raised pork and poultry on The Walnut Hill Farm in Mercer County, PA. Approximately 95% of the farm’s sales are direct-to-customer by way of their on-farm farmstand, which Karen manages. Michael has been active in Farmers Union since joining the PFU board in 2014, has attended numerous legislative Fly-Ins both in Washington DC and Harrisburg and had the honor of sitting on NFU’s Policy Committee on 2016. In that capacity, he successfully introduced language to strengthen policy on both local/regional food and industrial hemp, and grew a great deal in his understanding of issues important to family farmers across the US. Michael is also PFU’s representative on the PA Grazing Lands Coalition (PA GLC) board of directors. As a US Army veteran, he has represented PFU at various Farmer-Veteran functions, including a discussion panel at the PA Farm Show in 2017. A longtime enthusiastic member and supporter of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), he currently holds a seat on their Educational Advisory Committee. He is also a prolific public speaker on food and farming and has presented at events ranging from small clean-eating groups to TEDx Youngstown and the PASA stage at the Mother Earth News Fair. Farming on both sides of the nearby state line, Michael is also a member of Ohio Farmers Union.
KIM MILLER, Treasurer, Livestock Farmer, SW
Kim Miller and his wife Dianne farm in Ligonier and raise beef on grass. They, along with their partner Ridgway Shinn, own the Rotokawa Cattle Company a herd of registered Devon cattle from which they sell bulls and semen. Kim is the past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and a board member of the Westmoreland Conservation District and the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. He has been actively and sustainably farming for more than 20 years.
GEOFFREY WHALING, Farmer, SE
SARAH BAY, Secretary, Farmer
EMILY BEST, Farmer, SC
MARLENE VAN ES, At Large
Marlene graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she obtained her J.D. with a certificate in environmental law, science, and policy. She also holds a B.S. in Agricultural Science and Natural Resources from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Marlene is a native of Lansing, NY but fell in love with Pittsburgh after moving to the city for law school. Over the years she has been involved in many environmental initiatives including: on-farm research and crop production, working on nation-wide sustainable agriculture policy initiatives, and tackling environmental legal issues in Western Pennsylvania as a law clerk for PennFuture. Marlene also helped co-found a social entrepreneurship society and has hosted and attended conferences related to triple bottom line business. In her free time, she serves on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Farmers Union and is involved with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council working on issues related to land access for urban farmers. Marlene has a deep passion for increasing the accessibility of legal services so we can all grow together as a community.
Marlene specializes in legal services related to urban and rural agriculture, entity formations, non-profit formations, business contracts, and legal needs related to the creative industry. She also provides general entity formations, transactional services, and services related to medical marijuana. Marlene is licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania.