The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) is pleased to announce that Kari Jo Lawrence has accepted the position of Executive Director for the organization. The IAC has two reasons to celebrate as Zach Ducheneaux, former Executive Director, is now serving as the Administrator of the U.S. Farm Service Agency. These changes continue to expand the positive influence and network of the IAC – strengthening and promoting Indian Country Agriculture.
Lawrence’s first introduction to the IAC was reading the newsletters her father received in the mail in the early 1990s, “I read every issue that I found on the kitchen table. From one of the issues, I learned of the scholarship program and applied.”
Her interest and initiative early on made Lawrence one of the first to be awarded the IAC scholarship. She would later graduate from Dickinson State University with a Biology degree with a concentration in Range Management. She then went on to pursue a 20-year career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), working her way up to District Conservationist with the great majority of her career working with Tribes.
“In 2018, when the IAC Director of Programs position opened, I felt a calling to apply. I felt my experience would be a great fit for the IAC and I wanted to make an impact on a national level,” she went on.
As a Tribal member, cattle producer, USDA-NRCS employee, former FSA borrower and living on a reservation, Lawrence has the diverse experience and understanding that will help her effectiveness as the new Executive Director, “We have experienced more change, especially in the last few weeks, than ever expected, and have not skipped a beat, holding true to the core of the IAC’s Resiliency through Action. Zach has been an amazing leader and mentor and I thank him for taking the time to pave the way for a smooth transition. The IAC is moving forward in the true spirit that we were founded upon. Our guiding purpose of promoting positive change in Indian Agriculture for the benefit of Indian People is at the heart of our daily charge.”
Ducheneaux began his service to the IAC in the mid 1990's, working as a Farm Advocate. In 2003, he was appointed as an IAC voting delegate during his time on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council. He started his service as the IAC Great Plains Board Member. He transitioned into the role of Technical Assistant (TA) Director in 2010, with the rollout of the IAC’s national TA Network. Then, with former Executive Director Ross Racine’s retirement, Ducheneaux was identified as the third Executive Director to serve the IAC in March of 2019.
“If you would have asked me a few years ago when I would be leaving the IAC, I would have said, ‘When they kick me out,’" said Ducheneaux. "As I move on to this next adventure, I'll be taking all that I have learned about building solutions during my time at the IAC with me to help producers all across the country. The IAC could not be in better hands than with Kari Jo Lawrence at the helm. It's long overdue that a native woman leads us back to improving our food systems."