OPT Program Director
Lauren developed a love for agriculture while pursuing her degree in Environmental Studies at Binghamton University in New York. During college, she worked at a number of vegetable CSA farms before co-founding the Binghamton Urban Farm and youth employment program with the non-profit, VINES. In 2014 she became a Certification Specialist with NOFA-NY Certified Organic where she had a significant role in developing the Organic Plus Trust Grass-fed Organic standards. She later became Co-Director for NOFA-NY, growing her leadership in non-profit management. For 4 years she co-owned Stone Horse Farm, working with draft animals to grow vegetables and dry beans. Lauren can often be found in a tree stand or river as her true passions involve hunting, fishing, kayaking, gardening, and hiking. Lauren resides along the Tioghnioga river north of Binghamton, NY.
Our Steering Committee
Warthesen joined CROPP Cooperative, maker of Organic Valley products and more, in October 2014 and oversees the cooperative’s government affairs and engagement with industry trade groups. His duties include cultivating relations with policymakers, engaging administrative agencies, and driving forward-facing public relations with numerous food, farm and media stakeholders. He additionally supports cooperative efforts to develop and implement enhanced organic claims, such as Certified Grass-Fed Organic Dairy, that are increasingly prevalent on organic food products. He has extensive experience in direct lobbying, farmer recruitment and training for advocacy, coalition-building across diverse interests, and organizing prominent organic educational events. Warthesen was raised on a diversified crop and livestock operation that included organic production in Wabasha County, Minnesota, where his family still farms today. He holds a B.S. in environmental studies with an emphasis in public policy from Bemidji State University. For 10 years prior to coming to CROPP, he worked on food and farm policy for a Minnesota non-profit at the federal and state level. Warthesen serves as a board member for the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the Wisconsin Organic Advisory Council in the business seat, and the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, as well as an executive steering committee for the Organic Plus Trust.
Currently residing in southwestern Wisconsin with his family, he enjoys outdoor recreation as well as cooking and general farm work on the home farm when he visits family in Minnesota.
Diana Kobus is the Executive Director of Pennsylvanis Certified Organic (PCO). She brings over a decade of non-profit leadership in certification of individuals in the environmental and public health professions. Diana has a Masters in Environmental Science and Management with a focus in Organic Agriculture and was the Executive Director of the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice (IPEP) for twelve years, following five years working for Whole Foods Markets in the mid-2000s at various locations around the country. She brings extensive leadership experience along with a passion for organic production and the critical impact it has on climate and the environment. In her spare time, Diana enjoys cooking, music, gardening, and providing a home for many generations of houseplants.
Tim Joseph is the Founder of Maple Hill Creamery, the preeminent organic grass-fed dairy brand in the US. In 2004, Tim and his wife Laura started milking 64 cows on their 250-acre dairy farm in Central New York, with no prior farming experience. By 2007 they had transitioned their herd to both certified organic and 100% grass-fed, and in 2009 Tim created the company’s “creamline” yogurt on his kitchen stovetop. Maple Hill has grown to source milk from 160 family farms in Upstate NY. Maple Hill’s products are distributed nationally.