Meet The Board

Harvey Bailey
Director Emeritus
(Reedley, California)

Mr. Bailey resides in the eastern San Joaquin Valley of California, where he is a third-generation farmer in the Orange Cove area. He and his wife, Judy, have two daughters and two grandchildren. He farms 1,100 acres of citrus in partnership with his brother. The Baileys have a land management company that farms 900 acres for absentee growers. Harvey Bailey has been involved in the federal water arena for many years. He currently serves as chairman of the Orange Cove Irrigation District, serves on the board of directors of the Friant Water Authority, and is president of the Central Valley Project Water Association. He has served on the board of the Family Farm Alliance since the organization’s inception.

Sandy Denn (Willows, California)

Mrs. Denn is a third-generation farmer. Born in Willows, she farms rice at Snow Goose Farms with her husband, Wallace Denn. The Denns believe that agriculture and the environment can coexist in harmony if common sense and sensitivity are applied to agricultural practices and environmental reforms. Snow Goose Farms, situated near the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, is a winter haven to migratory waterfowl. Mrs. Denn has been politically active in local, state and federal arenas for many years. From 1993-2015 she served on the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District board. She is past president of the Central Valley Project Water Association. In 1994 she initiated a movement in Glenn County to unite opposing entities in the matter of groundwater management to gain local control. She helped put in motion the Northern Sacramento Valley Water Forum to promote interface and exchange of education on water issues between water agencies and local governments. Mrs. Denn also served on the California Department of Water Resources’ Water Advisory Panel which oversaw grant applications for groundwater projects. She has served in many other water related and civic positions and earned a law degree.

Dan Errotabere (Riverdale, California)

Daniel Errotabere is a general partner of a family farm operating in the Riverdale and Huron areas of California. The farm is diversified with crops that include pima cottons, wheat, processing garlic and onions, cannery tomatoes, cantaloupes, market and seed lettuce, pistachio and almonds. Mr. Errotabere is a third-generation farmer and along with his two brothers farm about 5,200 acres covering the counties of Fresno and Kings on the western regions of the San Joaquin Valley. In 1985, Mr. Errotabere received his B.S. in Agribusiness from California State University, Fresno. He is also a 1992 graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership, Class XXI. In addition, Mr. Errotabere currently serves as the president of the board for the Westlands Water District and is past chairman and president. He is a director on the board of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno Madera Farm Credit Association and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority. He is a past board member of the California Cotton Growers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Mr. Errotabere is a Trustee of the Agricultural Foundation for California State University, Fresno. He is married to Susan, a key player in Alliance fundraising activities, and has two children.

Steve Benson
(Brawley, California)

Dan Thelander
(Tempe, Arizona)

Dan Thelander is a partner in his family farm, Tempe Farming Co., along with his nephew and son.  They farm about 5000 acres in Pinal County, growing cotton, alfalfa, durum wheat, silage corn, and guayule. Most of the farm is flood irrigated, but about 1000 acres utilize sub surface drip irrigation.  Dan has been active in many farm organizations though the years.  He is a past president of the Maricopa County Farm Bureau and Arizona Cotton Growers Association.   He is currently serving as a vice-president of the American Cotton Producers, Chairman of Electrical District 3, and is Vice-President of Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation District.  In that position, Dan has taken an active role in representing Central Arizona Project agriculture water users.  Dan received his BS in Agronomy with an Ag Business Curriculum from the University of Arizona in 1977.  Dan lives in Tempe, Arizona with his wife, Karen.

Steve Benson
(Brawley, California)

Steve Benson is president of Planters Hay, Inc. and has been a managing partner of Benson Farms, LLC in Brawley, California since 2007. He is the past president of the board of directors of Imperial Irrigation District. He currently serves on the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation and is the Chairman of the board of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association. He is a former board member of the Imperial County Farm Bureau and the Imperial Valley Boys and Girls Clubs.  Mr. Benson has a BS from Bucknell University and his MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He is married and the father of four children.

Mark Hansen

Mark Hansen raises irrigated forage crops (primarily timothy hay and alfalfa) and cattle in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg, Washington. He grew up in Patterson, California, and helped on the family apricot and walnut farm. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a degree in Crop Science, Mr. Hansen worked for more than 15 years as a crop consultant on the west side of Fresno County for a vertically-integrated family farm. In 1995 he bought the Ellensburg hay ranch and the family moved to Washington. He is currently a board member of the Kittitas Reclamation District and the Kittitas Farm Bureau and a past board member of the Kittitas Valley Hay Growers Association and Kittitas School District. Mr. Hansen and his wife Melissa have two children. 

Pat O’Toole
(Savery, Wyoming)

Patrick O’Toole, a member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors since 1998 and a former member of Wyoming’s House of Representatives, was named as the organization’s fifth President in March 2005. He is a cattle and sheep rancher and hay grower with strong backgrounds in irrigated agriculture and Wyoming politics. Mr. O’Toole and his wife, Sharon, live on a ranch that has been in her family since 1881. Pat O’Toole’s interest in water intersected with the Alliance while he was serving on the Clinton administration’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission. Mr. O’Toole was the only commissioner representing Western irrigated agriculture and, in the end, refused to sign the report, opting instead to prepare a dissenting alternative report. The O’Toole family and Ladder Ranch were the recipients of the distinguished 2014 Wyoming Leopold Environmental Stewardship Award. Pat and Sharon met while students at Colorado State University, where Pat graduated with a philosophy degree.  They have three children and six grandchildren.

Ron Rayner
Director Emeritus
(Litchfield Park, Arizona)

Ron Rayner is a partner in his family operation, A Tumbling T Ranches, with his two brothers and two nephews. They farm approximately 6,000 acres of alfalfa, Durum wheat, cotton and forage sorghum in Arizona using a unique conservation tillage rotation that incorporates limited tillage and high residue management with double cropping. They also farm in the Central Valley of California growing citrus and wine grapes near Exeter. They also own farm acreage near Five Points. Ron has served on the numerous boards, including the Groundwater Users Advisory Council of the Phoenix Active Management Area, Electrical District No. 8 and Farmers Gin in Buckeye. Ron served four years as Board chairman of Calcot, Ltd and previously served as president of the National Cotton Council. His degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Arizona was awarded in 1964.  Ron and his wife, Heather, live in Litchfield Park, AZ.

Don Schwindt
(Cortez, Colorado)

Don Schwindt and his wife Jody started farming in their home community in Southwest Colorado in 1975 producing irrigated hay.  As they explored initiating their desire to make their living farming, Don was told it was close to an impossible dream.  He is now proud to tell people that he is a first-generation agricultural producer. He graduated from Stanford University in 1971 with a degree in anthropology.  Don has been active in the water business since 1980, serving locally on the boards of both Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company and the Dolores Water Conservancy District.  He is still on the DWCD board.  He has been a Colorado board member of the Family Farm Alliance since 1993.  He served on the Colorado Water Conservation Board representing the San Juan, San Miguel and Dolores Basins from 1999 through 2008.  Don serves on the boards of Southwestern Water Conservation District and the Colorado Water Congress.  The water board business gives a focus to Don’s passion for understanding his community’s history.  Don and Jody enjoy spending time with extended family, including their two children and five growing grandchildren.

Tom Schwarz (Bertrand, Nebraska)

Tom Schwarz is a life-long resident of Bertrand, Mr. Schwarz received a certificate in agriculture from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has 35 years of farming experience and has owned a hay-grinding business for 28 of those years. He has served as a board member of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, Nebraska Water Users, Inc., Central Water Users, and Phelps-Gosper Livestock Growers. He is a senior fellow in the Nebraska LEAD program. He and his wife Linda have been married over 25 years, and they have two children – Alex and Becky. Alex helps on the farm, and Becky works there in the summer between sessions at the University of Nebraska.

Marc Thalacker (Sisters, Oregon)

Marc Thalacker has been the Manager of Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID) since 1997.  He has farmed and ranched in Central Oregon since 1988.  Marc serves on the boards of the Oregon Water Resources Congress and the Family Farm Alliance. Over the last 18 years Marc has completed over 30 piping projects resulting in the piping of over 55 of the 64 miles of open canals in TSID. Currently TSID just finished building a 700kW hydro plant located at the end of 4 miles of 54” HDPE pipe serving as its penstock. Marc is currently working on a 200kW Micro-Hydro Demonstration Project which will go live in spring 2018. TSID this year will pipe the last phase of the District's Main Canal system which will serve as a penstock to a third small conduit 300kW hydro which will also go live in 2018.

Cannon Michael
(Los Banos, California)

Cannon Michael is the President/CEO of Bowles Farming Company. He is the 6th generation of his family to work in the family farming business. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the company in 1998, and became the President and CEO in 2014. He is an advocate for California agriculture and intelligent water policy. Environmental stewardship, ethical treatment of workers and sustainable production are core values for Mr. Michael and the Bowles Farming Company team.  Cannon Michael serves as the Chairman of the San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority, as a director on the Water Education Foundation Board, as a director on the San Luis Canal Company Board, as a director on the Henry Miller Reclamation District Board, as the president of the San Luis Resource Conservation District Board, as a director of the  Cotton Incorporated Board, as director and past chairman of the California Cotton Growers Association.

Chris Hurd
(Firebaugh, California)

Chris Hurd is a managing partner of Circle G Farms in California’s San Joaquin Valley. His 1,500-acre family farm operation produces almonds, pistachios and row crops. Mr. Hurd graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1972 with a degree in mechanized agriculture. He is past president of the San Luis Water District and a long-time board member of the Family Farm Alliance. Chris Hurd and his late wife Anne have three sons.

William Kennedy (Klamath Falls, Oregon)

The Kennedy Family ranches in Klamath County, Oregon and Glenn County, California. Natural resource production revolves around wildlife habitat and includes irrigated pasture, small grains and forest products. "Our Holistic Resource Management includes annual planning with a long-range vision for our family as well as migrating waterfowl and complementary predators". Bill graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 1979 and earned a certificate in forest management from Oregon State University in 1999. He has been a board member of Alliance since 1995 and is a past president. Other interests include outdoor family activities, bicycle touring, wildlife viewing, skiing, and boating. Bill, and his wife Marilyn, have two daughters.

Clinton Pline

(Nampa, Idaho)

Clinton Pline was raised on a family operated dairy farm near Nampa in the 1960s and 70s.  After obtaining degrees in Agri-Business and Agricultural Mechanics from the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Id., he returned to the family farm and expanded the scope of the farm operation to include a number of vegetable seed crops, wheat and sugar beets.  Mr. Pline’s leadership experiences extend from his 4-H and Future Farmer of America days, college student senate, County Farm Bureau Board, ten years as a farm supply co-op board director and chairman, and, Leadership Idaho Agriculture (Class IV, 1990). He was recently elected to his 5th term as Director, Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District and also serves  as Chairman of Treasure Valley Water User's Association.  Clinton Pline joined the Family Farm Alliance Board in February of 2019 and previously served as an Advisory Board member for five years.

Charles Lyall

Contractor's Profiles

Susan Errotabere (Riverdale, California)

Susan is the membership consultant for Family Farm Alliance. She is married to Dan Errotabere, the Family Farm Alliance Treasurer, who was also one of the founding board members of the Alliance. Dan and Susan have two children, Ryan, 25, and Marisa, 23.  They farm in the Central Valley of California. Susan is currently a member of the Holiday Guild, which raises money for Valley Children’s Hospital. She has also always been involved in fundraising events for her children’s schools.

Dan Keppen
(Klamath Falls, Oregon)

Dan Keppen is Executive Director for the Family Farm Alliance. He has 29 years’ experience in association management, water resources, power and environmental policy, facilities design, planning, economic analyses and contract administration in the public and private sectors. Since 1997, he has worked primarily in advocacy positions with the Northern California Water Association, and as executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. He served one year as special assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region. Prior to that time, Mr. Keppen was a water resources engineer for Tehama County, California and a water resources engineering consultant in Portland, Oregon. He is a Registered Civil Engineer in California.

Mr. Keppen is a past board member of the Irrigation Association and Clean Water Alliance, former chair of the Klamath County Natural Resources Committee and past president of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce. He is a Rotary Club Paul Harris (+8) Fellow and Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon.

Mr. Keppen received his M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from Oregon State University (OSU) and his B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Wyoming. He lives in Klamath Falls with Dena; they have a daughter Anna, 24, and a son, Jackson, 20.

Mark Limbaugh (Washington, D.C.)

Mark joined The Ferguson Group (a government relations firm) in 2007 and provides strategic policy and legislative advice to the Alliance. Prior to that, in 2005, Mr. Limbaugh was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Previously, Mr. Limbaugh served as Deputy Commissioner – External and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington, D.C. for over three years.

Prior to his federal service, Mark accumulated over 22 years of on-the-ground experience in production agriculture, water management and natural resource issues, and has been actively involved in various state and federal water organizations throughout his career. Other positions Mark has held include President of the Family Farm Alliance, Watermaster of Idaho’s Payette River Basin and Executive Director of the Payette River Water Users Association. Mark earned his B.S. in accounting cum laude from the University of Idaho, and has worked as a CPA.

Norman Semanko

(Boise, Idaho)

Norman Semanko serves as general counsel of the Alliance. He joined Parsons Behle & Latimer in 2017 and is the Water Law Practice Group leader in the firm’s Boise office. He has extensive experience with water resources, environmental, natural resources, public lands and regulatory issues, as well as governmental affairs and lobbying. He assists clients with matters in Idaho and Washington, D.C. Mr. Semanko served as Executive Director & General Counsel for the Idaho Water Users Association for 17 years. In 2016, he was recognized as an “Idaho Leader in Law” by the Idaho Business Review for his work.

Mr. Semanko has served as the President of the National Water Resources Association. He was also appointed by Governors Kempthorne and Otter to represent Idaho on the Western States Water Council.

Jane Townsend (Lake County, California)

Jane has been an Associate Director of AAMSI (Ag Association Management Services, Inc., Sacramento, CA) for over 25 years. The company currently manages 34 agricultural trade associations in California and the Pacific Northwest. Among many other duties, Ms. Townsend serves as the Coordinator of the Mid Pacific Region Water Users Conference, Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium, and Family Farm Alliance Annual Conference. She studied Journalism at Southwest Texas State University and received a paralegal certification from MTI College. She and her husband Craig have three grown children, and a new granddaughter.  They live in Clearlake Oaks, California, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Charles Lyall is a third-generation farmer in the lower Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin. In 1978, he joined his family farm, Lyall and Sons. They continue to grow cherries, apples, concord grapes for Welches Juice Corporation and a small amount of produce for farmer’s markets in Washington State. He has served as a Director on the Board of South Columbia Irrigation District, since 2000. He is a alternate on the Board of  Columbia Basin Hydropower. A past board member of the Colombia Basin Development League. A graduate from the Washington Agforestry Leadership Program, class of XXl. He has been married to Thea for over 33 years and has three children.

Advisory Committee and Organizations

  • Dave Anderson - Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, ND

  • Paul Arrington - Idaho Water Users Association

  • Ara Azhderian - Panoche Water District, CA

  • Donald Barksdale - Nampa Meridian Irrigation District, ID

  • Larry Bauman - Central Valley Project Water Association, Sacramento, CA

  • Alexandria Biering -  Friant Water Authority, CA

  • Mike Britton – North Unit Irrigation District, Madras, OR

  • James Broderick - Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo, CO

  • James Brower – Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, Sidney, MT
    Devin Brundage – Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, Holdrege, NE

  • Robert Cogan – Salt River Project, Phoenix, AZ

  • Ken Curtis – Dolores Water Conservancy District, Cortez, CO

  • Aaron Dalling – Fremont-Madison Irrigation District, ID

  • Tom Davis - Yuma County Water Users Association, Yuma, AZ

  • Duane DeKrey – Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, Carrington, ND

  • Urban Eberhart - Kittitas Reclamation District, WA

  • Dean Edgar - Burley Irrigation District, Burley, ID

  • Gary Esslinger, Chairman - Elephant Butte Irrigation District, Las Cruces, NM

  • Norma Galindo – Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial, CA

  • Pete Gile - Kansas-Bostwick Irrigation District

  • Dr. Larry Hicks - Little Snake River Conservation District, Baggs, WY

  • Rusty Jardine – Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, Fallon, NV

  • Sheldon Jones – Soil Health Institute, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

  • Cary Keaten – Solano Irrigation District, Vacaville, CA

  • Tom Knutson -  Water Management Solutions, St. Paul, NE

  • Matt Lukasiewicz – Loup Basin Reclamation District, Farwell, NE

  • David Mansfield - Arizona

  • Fergus Morrisey – Orange Cove Irrigation District, Orange Cove, CA

  • Andy Mueller – Colorado River District, Glenwood Springs, CO

  • Tom Myrum - Washington State Water Resources Association, Olympia, WA

  • Wade Noble - Law Office of Wade Noble, Yuma, AZ

  • Paul Orme - Paul R. Orme, P.C., Mayer, AZ

  • Antonio Ortega, Imperial Irrigation District, CA

  • Jason Peltier – Walnut Grove, CA

  • Scott Petersen – San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Los Banos, CA

  • Jason Phillips - Friant Water Authority, Lindsay, CA

  • Clinton Pline – Nampa-Meridian Irrigation District, Nampa, ID

  • Bill Plummer - Scottsdale, AZ

  • Rick Preston - Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation District, Lyman, NE

  • Pat Riley - Helena, MT

  • Joe Rutledge - Tualatin Valley Irrigation District, Forest Grove, OR

  • Clifford Searle - Burley Irrigation, Burley, ID

  • Norman Semanko - Parsons Behle & Latimer, Boise, ID

  • April Snell – Oregon Water Resources Congress, Salem, OR

  • Dave Solem – South Columbia Basin Irrigation District, Pasco, WA

  • Jeff Sutton - Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, Willows, CA

  • Chris Udall - Agri-Business and Water Council of Arizona, Mesa, AZ

  • Chris Voigt - Washington State Potato Commission, Moses Lake, WA

  • Bruce Whitehead - Whitehead H2O, Durango, CO

  • Brad Wind - Northern Water, Berthoud, CO