Top Menu

Speaker Bios

Professional Training for Farm Succession Advisors in New England

May 3 – 4, 2017
The Falls Center
21 Front Street
Manchester, NH 03102

Elizabeth Boepple, BCM Environmental & Land Law, PLLC. in 2016. Beth’s active commercial transactions practice involves sales and purchases of large and small businesses, and advice on issues including the initial selection of the business entity type, business formation, contract negotiation, drafting of related agreements, governance, and financing. Beth’s extensive work with clients on land use, business, and hospitality industry issues make her uniquely experienced to assist clients in the farming and food production businesses throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

Stacy Burnstein, Intervale Center. Stacy has been a practitioner and promoter of organic agriculture for nearly 30 years, running her own vegetable and berry farm and managing food and farming projects for nonprofit advocates, all with a commitment to advancing vibrant, healthy and equitable food systems. She graduated from the University of Vermont and holds a Master’s in Education from New York University. Stacy is currently the Land Access Specialist at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont.

Mark Cannella, Extension Assistant Professor: Farm Business Management Specialist.
Mark Cannella has been working in the field of agriculture in Vermont for over ten years. He has managed farm operations in vegetable production, maple sugaring and agricultural education. His current focus is the management and delivery of farm business planning programs, business management trainings and farm economic research. Mark contributes to programs that serve a diverse audience of farm producers raising different products at different scales.

Rich Cavanaugh, Common Grow, LLC. For over two decades, Rich Cavanaugh’s practice consisted mainly of civil litigation and counseling non-profit and for-profit corporations in the firm he helped establish in Lowell, MA. A few years ago, he and his wife participated in a year-long practical farming program at The Farm School in central Massachusetts. That experience confirmed his desire to shift gears and build a life more closely connected to the land. As a result, he formed Common Grow, LLC, which provides legal and land use services to protect and cultivate the beauty and purpose of farmland in our communities. The scope of those legal services includes business organization and governance, real estate transactions, farm succession planning, regulatory compliance, and other areas of interest to those in the agricultural sector.

William J. Dakin, Kahan, Kerensky & Capossela, LLP. William Dakin primarily practices in the areas of probate, estate planning, business planning, and taxation. He is a member of the American Bar Association Committee on Taxation and the Connecticut Bar Association Committees on Taxation, Estate and Probate. Mr. Dakin has also served on various committees of the Connecticut Society of CPA’s, and has lectured at various CSCPA Continuing Professional Education programs.

Paul Dillon is a Sole Practitioner who is licensed in Maine and has been an Attorney and Counselor at Law for thirty-four years. He limits his practice to business, estate, elder law, and charitable planning. His office is located in Corinth, Maine where he works with individuals, families, business owners, farmers and woodlot owners throughout the State of Maine. Paul received his B.S. in Zoology from Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana and his J.D. from the University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Rebecca Fletcher, Project Manager, Equity Trust. Equity Trust is a small, Massachusetts-based nonprofit working nationally on equitable forms of land ownership, and developing economic relationships based on justice and environmental sustainability. For the past 25 years, a focus of Equity Trust’s work has been farm protection projects that include protecting food production, the farmhouse, and the farm’s affordability for farmers. Equity Trust also runs a revolving loan fund that enables lenders and donors around the country to support sustainable community-based projects, and provides a successful model for investing in local food systems, housing, and other critical resources.

Rebecca has been with Equity Trust since 2005. She provides assistance to individuals and groups across the U.S. including farmers, land trusts, municipalities, community groups and others using shared equity models of ownership for housing and farms, to create and strengthen new ways of owning, using, and stewarding property. Rebecca lives in Northampton, MA.

Mike Ghia, Land For Good. Mike grew up on a farm, has a MS in Plant and Soil Science from UVM, and farmed full-time in Windham County from 1997-2005, and part-time since then. Since 2006, Mike has worked with the Vermont Farm Viability Program providing assistance to farm families on financial and business planning as well as farm transfers as a contractor to UVM Extension. Since 2008, Mike has also worked as the Vermont Field Agent for Land For Good. Through Land For Good, he regularly provides direct technical assistance to farmers on a variety of farmland access and tenure issues, as well as similar services to non-farming landowners who are making their land available to farmers or who are exploring doing so. Through Land For Good, he also provides direct service to farm families working on transferring their farms to the next generation.

Emma Hempstead is a private attorney supporting small food producers in Vermont and Western Massachusetts. As a legal fellow for the Agrarian Trust she coordinates the Agrarian Lawyers’ Network, a group of legal professionals committed to supporting agriculture and sustainability. She is licensed to practice law in Vermont and Massachusetts, studied food and agricultural law at both Vermont Law School and the University of Arkansas Food and Agriculture LL.M Program.

Annette Higby is a private attorney practicing in Vermont. Her current practice is focused on generational farm transfer, farm business formation and farm leasing. She has practiced agricultural law or worked on federal farm policy for the last 35 years. She is the lead author of “A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont” web-published by the University of Vermont Extension and numerous other publications on agricultural law and federal farm policy. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law.

Jon Jaffe, Farm Business Consultant/Farm Tax Specialist,  Farm Credit East, ACA. Jon was born and raised on a 60-cow dairy farm in upstate New York. After graduating from Cornell University in 1980, he operated his own dairy operation for a few years. Jon has worked for Farm Credit for over 33 years. During that time his responsibilities included work as a loan officer, assistant branch manager, tax specialist, appraiser, credit reviewer and farm business consultant. He has worked with a wide range of farm businesses in southern New England and New York. Jon has focused his efforts on his Farm Business Consultant work, providing strategic business planning, generation transfer/estate planning, tax consulting, risk management and other consulting services to a wide variety of agricultural clients. Jon has spoken at a number of seminars on topics such as labor management, farm transfers, farm business training and preparing a business plan. He has also spoken at cranberry grower meetings, aquaculture seminars, Farm Bureau meetings (both in NH and RI) and other farm business meetings.

Jon’s volunteer efforts include Advisory board for the Carrot Project (former president and current chair of their loan committee), Rhode Island Ag Council (president for three years), Mass Flower Growers Board of directors and Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Board of Directors. He has also served as board member of Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (10 years), the Economic Development Committee of the Cranberry Country Chamber of Commerce and the finance committee of Plymouth area Habitat for Humanity.

Annie Lemelin, Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation. Annie is a Legal Fellow working in the Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice Program. She is the Regional Coordinator of the Legal Food Hub. The Legal Food Hub provides pro bono legal services and connects eligible farmers, food entrepreneurs, and the organizations that support them with attorneys from our growing network who work on their legal issues for free. Annie holds an LL.M. in Environment from McGill University Faculty of Law, a J.D. with a Certificate in Environment from Tulane University Law School, and a B.A. in Environmental Biology from Colgate University. During law school, she interned for the Alliance for Affordable Energy in New Orleans and CLF in Vermont. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts.

Mike Moloney, Manager of Tax Services, Yankee Farm Credit, ACA. Mike Moloney, EA, is the Manager of Tax Services for Yankee Farm Credit, ACA in White River Jct., VT. Mike started with Yankee in 1999 and received his EA license in 2003. He is a board member of VTPA and chairs the VTPA Education committee. He is also a member of NATP. Additionally, Mike serves as a member of the UVM Tax School advisory board and the Vermont Tax Commissioners Tax Technical Working Group. Prior to joining Yankee, Mike had a long career in the retail grocery industry in both NH and VT.

Louanna Perkins, Legal Counsel, Maine Farmland Trust. LouAnna Perkins’ concern for farmland loss has its roots in her childhood, where in Manassas, Virginia she witnessed the early stages of a massive transition of farmland to housing. She has been active in farmland protection for the past 16 years, first as Executive Director of Maine Farmland Trust from its inception in 2000, then transitioning in 2006 to serve as its general counsel. “On the side” she is a musician, storyteller and grandmother. She lives in Penobscot, Maine and Nokomis, Florida.

Sarah A. McDaniel, Douglas McDaniel Campo & Schools LLC PA. For over a decade, Sarah McDaniel’s law practice has focused on all aspects of real property law, with a particular emphasis on conservation transactions, civil litigation, and land use permitting. In addition to real estate conveyance and conservation transactions, Sarah represents landowners across Maine in disputes involving property boundaries, title insurance, right-of-ways, easement issues, and zoning. She has worked with farmers on land and business succession plans as well as estate planning. Prior to graduating from Harvard Law School in 2003, Sarah worked in the land conservation department at The Trustees of Reservations, a state-wide land trust in Massachusetts. Sarah founded Maine Land Law LLC, PA in 2009 and co-founded her current firm, PA, in 2013.

Richard F. Peterson, Legal counsel, Vermont Land Trust. Rick resides in Shelburne, Vermont and has been Project Counsel to the Vermont Land Trust since 2000. He holds a B.A. from Syracuse University (1976) and a J.D. from Vermont Law School (1981). He is licensed to practice in Vermont, having been admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1982 and to the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in 1983. Before joining VLT, he was in private practice with two law firms in Burlington, Vermont where his emphasis was on general real property law, planning, zoning, and land use and related litigation. His clients included several towns and he had occasion to do work for several local land trusts and The Nature Conservancy. He has been involved in a variety of community activities, having served on the Shelburne Planning Commission from 1995 to 2007 (last six years as Chair), as well as coaching and refereeing in the town’s youth soccer and little league programs. He enjoys the outdoors and gets there whenever he can to run, ski, golf, hike, sail, kayak, etc. He is also an avid reader and music fan. He and wife Jan have two grown children, Ali and Andrew.

Jon Ramsay, Director of Farmland Access Program, Vermont Land Trust. Jon grew up on a family dairy farm in Greensboro, VT which has had a big impact on his life. Jon continues to manage the family farm raising Angus cattle. Jon graduated from the University of Vermont in 1999 and started working for VLT a month later. For several years Jon worked with farmers in the Champlain Valley, the largest agricultural region in Vermont, facilitating the conservation of their farms. He then transferred to the VLT stewardship program where he oversaw all aspects of farmland stewardship statewide. While in stewardship Jon focused on several farmland conservation stewardship policies and helped shape the agricultural stewardship program. Since 2009 Jon has worked as the Director of the VLT Farmland Access Program. Jon negotiates real-estate transactions where beginning farmers gain access to land using affordability mechanisms, legal easements, and other creative funding.

Kathy Ruhf, Senior Program Director, Land for Good. Kathy began LFG’s work on farmland access, tenure and transfer in 2004, when there was scarcely any recognition or regional resources on these topics. Over the ensuing decade, land access became an issue of priority concern among all farm and food system stakeholders in New England and nationally. Kathy most recently served as Executive Director (2013-14). Kathy is a nationally recognized leader in farm entry, succession and tenure. She has co-authored guidebooks, managed projects, led workshops and worked closely with farm families on these topics. She served as co-director of the New England Small Farm Institute for 17 years, and on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers for six years, and chair for two. Kathy coordinated a regional network, the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) from its founding in 1992 until late 2012. She continues to work and write on farm and food policy as a NESAWG Senior Fellow. Kathy has Masters degrees in Administration (University of Massachusetts) and in Natural Resource Management (Antioch/New England). She lives and works in Belchertown, Mass.

Donald H. Sienkiewicz focuses his legal practice on estate planning, asset protection, and elder law. He is the principal attorney at the Estate Preservation & Planning Law Office in Milford, New Hampshire. Attorney Sienkiewicz previously practiced with the firms of Rath, Young, & Pignatelli , P.C., in Concord, New Hampshire and Goodwin Procter LLP, in Boston, Massachusetts. His practice includes advising clients on tax efficient wealth management, business succession planning, and long-term care planning through the use of revocable and irrevocable trusts, limited liability companies, and other legal arrangements. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 2002 from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was a fellow in the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Honors Program in Law and Public Service. He earned bachelor’s degrees from Boston University in Economics and Environmental Policy, both magna cum laude. Before attending law school, Attorney Sienkiewicz spent four years leading expeditions for troubled teenagers in Utah, Arizona, Oregon, and California as a wilderness guide. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and fishing; lives with his wife, Katja, and their four children in the beautiful Monadnock region of southern New Hampshire.

This event is supported by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, #2015-70017-23900.