PFU Board of Directors
HEIDI SECORD, President, Vegetable Farmer, NE
Heidi has over 20 years of farming experience and a degree in Business Management. After University, Heidi joined the Peace Corps and served for 3 years in Mali, West Africa. She owns and runs the Josie Porter Farm, a 150 member CSA and Buying Club with her husband Gary Bloss.
Heidi is currently on the board of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), a board member of the Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) and a board member of National Farmers Union (NFU). Heidi, an Oxfam "Sister on the Planet", brings her interest and experience in sustainable agriculture, policy work and organizational leadership to PFU...thinking globally and farming locally!
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.
GEOFFREY WHALING, Farmer, SE
Geoffrey W. Whaling is proud member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, President and CEO of AgriNextUSA and CEO of GWW LLC. He is also the Chairman of the National Hemp Association, President of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, Founding Board Member of the Coalition for Access Now and Athletes 4 Care. Born in Canada Geoff is the retired Founder, Chief Coordinator and CEO of Current Events, Corporate Planners International, North American Motorsport Events (NAME), Inc. and the GoodSport Management Group of Companies. Whaling’s areas of expertise are wide ranging given the complexity and diversity of his government, business, entrepreneurial and philanthropic work. His strengths include strategic communications, government and public affairs/relations, business-to-business marketing and partnerships. A profound sense of “wanting to serve” remains an integral part in his life. He and his wife Trisha Hessinger, live on Toland Farm, a private dressage training facility.
SARAH NAWA, Secretary/Treasurer, Farmer
Sarah has been working in organic vegetable production in south central Pennsylvania for over 11 years, where she was born and raised. Sarah did not come from a farming family, but became interested in agriculture after college. Starting as an apprentice at one of the oldest certified organic vegetable farms in the area, New Morning Farm, she moved into the role as farm manager at a 100 member certified organic educational farm for 4 years. Sarah now farms part time in the area and works at Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative as a field consultant to member growers. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, where she also participates on the Educational Advisory Committee. Sarah is also a board member for the LEAF Project Inc, a south central PA youth leadership and agriculture organization.
EMILY BEST, Farmer, SC
MARLENE VAN ES, At Large
Marlene is the founder and principal attorney at Trellis Legal, LLC located in Pittsburgh. Her law practice serves small businesses and non profits, and specializes in food business and rural and urban agriculture legal needs, including Right to Farm Act, ACRE, nutritional labeling, food establishment/kitchen permitting, agritainment liability, farm leasing, purchase and sale contracts, etc. She has experience in agriculture and environmental advocacy including: on-farm research and crop production, working on nation-wide sustainable agriculture policy initiatives, and tackling environmental legal issues in Western Pennsylvania. Marlene also helped co-found a social entrepreneurship society, regularly presents on agricultural legal issues, is an active member of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, and serves an alternate on the Allegheny County Health Department Food Safety Advisory Committee.