THAT’S THE PERCENTAGE OF OUR EARTH’S LAND WHERE FARMERS GROW THEIR CROPS AND RAISE THEIR LIVESTOCK TO NOURISH THE WORLD.

 

The world’s population will be nearly 10 billion by 2050. We’ve got to work together — across continents, cultures and markets — to make abundant, nutritious food available so everyone can realize their full potential. And we need to do this in a way that sustains the health of our planet.

Venture37 is uniquely positioned to do just that. That’s because we have the backing of Land O’Lakes, Inc., a $14 billion farmer-owned cooperative with diversified agribusinesses in dairy, livestock, crops and agricultural sustainability. Pair this with local insights from 40 years of agricultural development, and we’ve got what it takes to unlock the potential of dairy, livestock, and crops farms and business ventures around the world.

Our Mission
Striving to help global communities thrive through agriculture. We are focused on long-term, human-centered impact. That’s why you’ll find a few commonalities across our portfolio:
Our decisions are evidence-based.
 
Data and science ensure our roadmap is built on facts, not assumptions. Evidence is ever-evolving—and so are we.
We regularly learn and adapt.
 
It’s about accelerating what’s working and changing what’s not. Because, we know we can always do better.
Creative planning is our thing.
 
Each global community is nuanced and complex, so is there any other way? Local insights must drive customization.
Our work is market-driven.
 
It’s all about finding challenges in the market and turning them into opportunities—all to accelerate supply and demand.
Social inclusion leads to lasting progress.
 
When people of all ages and identities equally take part in a society, it strengthens the whole.
OUR AFFILIATION WITH LAND O’LAKES, INC.
A SHARED HISTORY, A SHARED PURPOSE

In 1981, in a group of farmers gathered in a Minnesota board room of Land O’Lakes, Inc. to discuss a bold idea: international development. As members of a cooperative dating back to 1921, these farmer-members knew from experience that uniting to improve agriculture can lead to healthier communities and stronger economies. They also understood that food security and economic prosperity are good for all – for business ventures, for trade and for a more secure world.

This is how Venture37 got its roots.

Today we are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but we still leverage expertise, innovation and technology from Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s four diversified businesses. This takes shape in many ways. Whether its championing food safety regulations, driving innovation through reach + and development, optimizing supply chain networks or offering farmers services to make informed decisions — we combine premier agribusiness know-how with local insights to creating last impact.

Forty years after a room full of farmers decided to work together across continents and cultures for the common good — we still share a common purpose of advancing agriculture to feed human progress.

OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
 
John Ellenberger,
Executive Director
John leads Land O’Lakes Venture37, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1981 by Land O’Lakes, Inc. He assumed the role in January 2017 after leading the Land O'Lakes, Inc. U.S. Dairy Foods  teams since 2008. Before joining Land O’Lakes, John led corporate marketing at American Medical Systems and spent 15 years in various marketing leadership roles at General Mills. He earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Minnesota. John also serves on the Board of Directors for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and ServeMinnesota.
 
Giselle Aris, Group Director of Strategic
Partnerships and New Ventures
Giselle joined our team in 2011, after spending two years designing, scaling and managing a smallholder farmer-owned dairy enterprise in South India. She brings over a decade of experience in facilitating inclusive private investment and accelerated business growth in emerging markets. Giselle loves dreaming up new types of shared value partnerships for advancing global agriculture development and food security – so if you have ideas on ways we could co-invest towards these goals, get in touch! Giselle’s happiest when she’s climbing a mountain, riding her bike, reading a book, or cooking and eating in good company.
 
Mat Ayaga
Human Resources Director
Mat Ayaga joined Venture37 in 2019. Born and raised in Asembo, Western Kenya, Mat has worked with various global development organizations in Africa and the United States. She has more than 15 years of experience supporting development projects in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. At Venture37, Mat leads the development, implementation, and delivery of strategic Human Resources initiatives and practices across the organization. She loves connecting with people and creating new relationships. Mat recently became a mother and enjoys spending time with her husband and son.
 
Greg Grothe, Director of Project
Design and Technical Services
Greg joined our team in 2012 and has served in both technical and program management roles. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in strategy and business development in both financial services and agribusiness industries. Greg is passionate about leveraging the power of markets and social enterprise to create innovative solutions that address development challenges. He enjoys spending lake time with his wife and two young daughters, skijoring with his standard poodle Ruby and fly fishing across the Upper Midwest.
 
Dai Harvey, Technical Director
Dai Harvey embarked on his career with Venture37 in 2004 in his home of Zambia, with a focus of growing private sector involvement in the dairy industry. Since then, Dai has provided technical and management oversight for all types of agricultural projects in over 40 countries worldwide. Now based in the United Kingdom, he still has interests on the family farm in Zambia, where his brother manages dryland crops, livestock and tourism operations. Dai is passionate about creating opportunities for improving consumer access to safe, nutritious food and endeavoring to ensure farmers capture more of the end value.
 
 
Kyle Nelson
IT Director - Corporate Business Lead, IT International
Kyle joined the Land O’Lakes Venture37 team in 2020 after spending four years in different IT leadership roles from IT Security to IT Operations, and he is currently IT Business Lead for all corporate areas. He focuses on helping organizations optimize technology while right-sizing processes to drive operational efficiencies and business growth. He has over 20 years of experience in both corporate and nonprofit organizations across manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, and retail. Kyle enjoys traveling, boating, skiing, photography and is an avid Minnesota Vikings football fan. He and his wife love spending time at the lake with the family.
 
Mary Jo Robinson,
Group Director – Operations
Mary Jo has been with Land O’Lakes for more than 30 years. She has held a variety of financial and operational positions both with Land O’Lakes, Inc. and with Land O’Lakes Venture37, working exclusively in Venture37 since 2002. Mary Jo holds a BA in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and an MBA in International Financial Management from St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota. A recent empty nester, Mary Jo and her husband Gregg, love to travel, play golf and spend time on Minnesota lakes in the summer.
 
Meredith Saggers,
Director of Global Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning
A part of our team since 2014, Meredith leads the strategic direction of MEL across the organization. She brings 10+ years of experience implementing quality MEL systems in agriculture, education, and economic empowerment programs throughout the world. Meredith enjoys good food and fitness and is an avid traveler for work and pleasure.
 
Don Taussig,
Director of Global Security Services
Don has been providing security services for Land O’Lakes Venture37 and Land O’Lakes, Inc. since 2012. His experience includes more than 30 years of leadership and consulting in the areas of corporate security, law enforcement, investigations and international operations. He retired from the U.S. Army’s Military Police Corps in 1996 and from the U.S. Civil Service in 2011. One highlight of Don’s career was his appointment as a Director of Security for the Executive Office of the President by President George W. Bush.