Foundation board poses after November 2019 meeting

Transitions into 2020

Board Member Meunier Completes Term; Bablitch, Petri, Salzwedel Join

This past fall the Aldo Leopold Foundation celebrated the tenure of board member Jed Meunier and welcomed three new directors, Steve Bablitch, Anne “Dede” Neal Petri, and Jack Salzwedel.

A Send-Off

Jed MeunierJed Meunier

After six years, Jed finished his board tenure (2013-2019) with the completion of a recent effort he co-led to clarify the foundation’s strategic priorities for the next three years. In addition to this work, Jed has contributed to advancing the foundation’s mission with his frequent public speaking engagements on Leopold and a land ethic, as well as the recent publication of the book Aldo Leopold on Forestry and Conservation: Toward a Durable Scale of Values co-edited with Curt Meine.

Jed brought valuable perspectives to the board’s work both as an ecologist and research scientist, but also as the only individual to have the unique combination of being from the Leopold family as the grandson of Nina Leopold-Bradley, having worked on the staff as a Leopold Fellow in 2000, and serving on the Board.  “Jed has brought continuity, critical thinking, and credibility to the organization over a period of considerable change and development,” shared executive director Buddy Huffaker, “It is fair to say that without Jed’s commitment to a land ethic and building the Leopold Foundation’s unique ability to advance it, the foundation would not be in as strong of a position as it is right now.”

Joining the Board

Steve Bablitch bio picSteve Bablitch

Steve’s commitment to a land ethic comes from the significant amount of time he spends outdoors managing invasive species on his farm, fishing, and enjoying both the Driftless and the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Professionally, Steve brings a unique combination of business, government, and legal experience to the board composition. Having held several leadership roles Steve served as CEO, Chairman, and General Counsel for Blue Cross & Blue Shield and most recently as Chief Operating Officer at Aurora Health Care. He was also tapped to serve as Secretary of the Department of Corrections by Governor Tommy Thompson, and later as the Secretary of the Department of Administration by Governor Jim Doyle. In addition, Steve has generously given his time and expertise by serving on a number of industry and non-profit boards, notably as President of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Dede Petri bio picAnne “Dede” Neal Petri

Dede joins the board on the heels of completing her tenure as President of The Garden Club of America, during which the club was recognized by the National Audubon Society with the Rachel Carson Women in Conservation Award (2019). She also chaired the Olmsted Woods restoration project at the Washington National Cathedral, noted as a groundbreaking urban woodland restoration by The Washington Post among others. During a prestigious law career, Dede specialized in the First Amendment. Currently, Dede continues to serve as Senior Fellow for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an organization she co-founded in 1995, and she has just assumed the Presidency of the National Association for Olmsted Parks which will be spearheading the bicentennial celebration of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted in 2022. Her experience guiding complex organizations and innovative conservation projects will be an asset to Leopold Foundation.

Jack Salzwedel bio picJack Salzwedel

Named as one of the most engaged Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, Jack joins the board with more than just a social media acumen. After majoring in biology and business, he was offered a job as a claims adjuster in 1983 with American Family Insurance and has now served as the company’s CEO since 2011. Jack has led the company’s impressive growth while prioritizing a positive, inclusive corporate culture. While Jack has served on a number of professional and non-profit boards including the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America, the Insurance Institute, Badger Air Community Council, and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, he is excited to return to his interest and passion for biology, ecology, and conservation as a director for the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Looking Ahead

Steve, Dede, and Jack have each begun a three-year term at just the right time according to Buddy, “The addition of this group of directors comes at a time when the world needs a land ethic, and when the Leopold Foundation is poised to raise its profile and expand its impact.”

The foundation is grateful for their generosity and willingness to engage so deeply with the work to advance a land ethic.

Above, the board of directors poses after the November 2019 meeting. Missing is Kimberly Blaeser. For full bios of all board directors, click here.