About

Advocacy

Events

Membership

Sponsor

Education

Newsletters

Resources

Technical Assistance

×

Angela Blatt

Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
Tuesday May 10 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Driving Investment in Regional Food Supply Chains
Tuesday June 7 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director, Research & Technical Assistance
Council of Development Finance Agencies

As Director of Research & Technical Assistance with the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA), Angela focuses on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded initiative “Defining the Food System Asset Class,” whereby CDFA explores opportunities for the advancement of local and regional food systems using development finance tools. Through this initiative, Angela collaborates with communities across the country providing technical assistance and producing strategic plans for development finance strategies that meet infrastructure, agriculture, and small business needs to support equitable, local food economies. Angela co-leads CDFA’s Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, joining both the food and finance industries, administers CDFA’s Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, connecting food-related businesses and projects with development finance agencies, and manages the Food and Agriculture Finance Update monthly newsletter. In 2021, she gained certification as a Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) through the CDFA Training Institute.


A Navy Veteran, Angela holds two degrees from The Ohio State University: a Master of Public Administration with a focus on Food Policy from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Science from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.


Aaron Blyth

Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
Tuesday March 22 11:00 - 12:30 PM

Agricultural Program Manager
Latino Economic Development Center

Aaron helps direct LEDC’s Agricultural Program working to secure grants, managing the program budget, and coordinating LEDC’s Agricultural training activities including; business technical assistance to farmers, loan application assistance, marketing assistance, and in-field technical assistance. Aaron also helps to build key partnerships with other farming and government organizations involved in creating pathways for success to Minnesota’s Latino agricultural entrepreneurs.

Aaron started working in Organic vegetable production in 2001. He is a graduate of the University of Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ Apprenticeship program in Ecological Horticulture. Aaron spent over 8 years working and managing Organic vegetable farms in Oregon and Minnesota. He spent 6 years as the farm manager of Big River Farms, an Organic vegetable training farm that works with emerging and immigrant farmers. Most recently, he spent 5 years as the Director of Shared Ground Farmers’ Cooperative, a majority-owned Latino marketing cooperative in St. Paul, MN.

As a white employee of a Latino organization, Aaron is inspired to do this work for two reasons. First, he is consistently in awe of the vision, dedication, and wisdom Latino agricultural entrepreneurs bring to rural Minnesota. Secondly, Aaron wants to see a thriving Minnesota agricultural economy and believes deeply that the future of a healthy rural Minnesota depends on the energy and passion of the growing Latino community that has made rural Minnesota it’s home.


Rodrigo Cala

Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
Tuesday March 22 11:00 - 12:30 PM

Agricultural Trainer
Latino Economic Development Center

Rodrigo Cala grew up in a farm family near Mexico City which grew broccoli and cauliflower. The family operated a vending booth at the Centro de Abastos in Mexico City, which is a huge wholesale market. He moved from Mexico to Minnesota in 1996.

After graduating from the Minnesota Food Association three-year training program for immigrant farmers near Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, Rodrigo and his brother purchased their own farm. The training included classroom sessions and three years of growing experience on the incubator farm.

At LEDC, Rodrigo is responsible for developing and delivering an agricultural training program for beginning Latino farmers. He provides the technical steps in raising a broad variety of vegetables to guide beginning farmers as they launch farm incubator cooperatives. He also delivers classroom training sessions to new group seven farm farmer cooperatives. In addition, Rodrigo provides on-site consulting to each group in the initial year of production ongoing support in succeeding years. He has also provided guidance to co-op members in the management of a cooperative organization in collaboration with LEDC.


Paul Dietmann

Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
Tuesday May 10 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Senior Focused Lending Specialist
Compeer Financial

Paul Dietmann is Senior Focused Lending Specialist at Compeer Financial, a member-owned rural lending cooperative and Farm Credit System institution serving the upper Midwest. He co-leads Compeer’s Emerging Markets Program, which provides loans and business planning assistance to farmers who market their products through local food systems.

Dietmann previously spent 16 years with the State of Wisconsin, first as a county agricultural agent with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, then as director of the Wisconsin Farm Center, which is the farmers’ assistance program in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and finally as Wisconsin’s Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

Dietmann is President of the Sauk-Prairie Police Commission, Vice President of Merrimac Lodi Mutual Insurance Company, Treasurer of the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, serves on the board of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Wisconsin, and is actively involved with many other organizations.

Dietmann holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, and a Master’s Degree from UW-Madison. He is co-author of the books Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified and Financial Risk Management for Specialty Crop Farmers, and author of Turning Grain Into Dough: Farm Financial Management for Organic Grain and Crop Rotation.


Mike Heald

Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
Tuesday May 10 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Vice President of Investment Programs
Heifer International

With a background in finance, accounting and banking spanning over thirty-five years, Mike joined Heifer International as a consultant in July 2019 and was instrumental in the development of what has now become Heifer Impact Capital. He began his career in public accounting with an international accounting firm where he became a Certified Public Accountant. Mike then focused on the banking industry, working at several large, publicly traded financial institutions in Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas. He eventually transitioned to Stephens, Inc. where he worked in Corporate Finance, advising financial institutions of all sizes on various strategic initiatives.


Brett Melone

Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
Tuesday March 22 11:00 - 12:30 PM

Chief Business Strategies Officer
California FarmLink

Brett Melone grew up in agriculture in South Florida, and has spent the bulk of his career working with farmers in California and Latin America to support their business success and natural resource management, and leading nonprofit organizations that serve farmers. Brett currently serves as Chief Business Strategies Officer at California FarmLink, a Certified Community Development Financial Institution, where he leads the organization’s education programs and lending activities that serve farmers and fishers throughout California. Prior to this role, he served as Director of Lending (2014-2021), and Loan Officer (2013-2014), after being a member of the organization’s Board of Directors (2004-2013) and Loan Committee (2005-2010).


Ariel Miller

Driving Investment in Regional Food Supply Chains
Tuesday June 7 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director, Research & Technical Assistance
Council of Development Finance Agencies

Ariel Miller is a Director of Research & Technical Assistance with the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA). Her research topics include revolving loan funds, access to capital for underserved borrowers, infrastructure finance, and public-private partnerships. She has also contributed to CDFA's food finance research, data collection, and publications demonstrating how development finance agencies can become more engaged in restoring local and regional food systems. Ms. Miller received her Master of City and Regional Planning degree from The Ohio State University, where she also earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.


Karama Neal

Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
Tuesday May 10 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Prior to joining USDA Rural Development, Karama Neal served as president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a nonprofit community development loan fund and financial development organization promoting economic mobility in rural Arkansas and Mississippi. She spent twelve years at Southern and led their small business, consumer and other development lending, consumer and savings focused public policy work, and a variety of financial development services to help low and moderate wealth families and communities build wealth.


Michael Reilly

Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
Tuesday March 22 11:00 - 12:30 PM

Executive Director
Foodshed Capital

Michael Reilly is a co-founder of Foodshed Capital, and oversees the day-to-day operations as Executive Director. Under his leadership the organization grew from a local slow money project in Central Virginia to a region-wide loan program serving farms and food businesses throughout the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. Michael also led Foodshed Capital toward certification as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2020. Michael has developed strong relationships with dozens of farmers around the region and has been involved in making more than 65 loans since 2019. Michael began his career in banking and later honed his financial skills as a 15-year executive in the broadcast television business. He has served on the board of several food and agriculture organizations including:the Virginia Farmers Market Association; the Virginia Association for Biological Farming; and the Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience & Access Coalition (MAFRAC). He also served on the planning team for the Food Justice Network in Central Virginia. Michael earned an undergraduate degree at Yale University and a graduate degree at Columbia University. He lives in Charlottesville with his family.


Allison Rowland

Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
Tuesday March 22 11:00 - 12:30 PM

Project Manager
One Columbus

As Director of Research and Technical Assistance for the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA), Allison oversees all of CDFA’s food systems finance work, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded initiative to “define the food system asset class” to advance opportunities and leverage existing financing streams to scale local and regional food systems by increasing access to healthy foods and creating new living wage jobs in communities across the country. Throughout this work, Allison has collaborated with hundreds of stakeholders and co-authored the CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series. Allison also is working alongside five food system pilot projects across the country, leads the Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and is initiating a variety of technical assistance projects to help position communities, their resources, and their financial products to support equitable, local food economies.

Allison also researches financing tools for the energy sector and economic development tools for Native American communities. She also produces several monthly newsletters and manages various webinar series.

Allison is a graduate of The Ohio State University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in City and Regional Planning with a focus on sustainable community and economic development.


Mae Wu

Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
Tuesday May 10 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Mae Wu currently serves as the Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture. Prior to joining USDA, Wu served as a Senior Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, helping to lead the organization’s health and food work. While there, she was working to design a holistic approach to NRDC’s food-based advocacy to build towards making local and regional food systems healthier, more resilient, sustainable, and equitable. Wu holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Rice University, a master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge, and a Juris Doctorate from Duke University School of Law.



CDFA National Sponsors

  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Frost Brown Todd LLC
  • gener8tor
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
Become a Sponsor