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Board of Trustees and Staff

Officers

President -- Robert A. Janson

Vice President -- Rick Foster, PhD

Treasurer -- Matthew J. Wawro

Trustees

Rick Foster, PhD (Richland, MI)

Rick Foster retired in 2018 from Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he held an Endowed Chair in Food, Society and Sustainability. Prior to joining MSU, Rick spent 15 years as Vice President for Programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, specializing in Food Systems, Rural Development, Environmental Programs, and Leadership. Rick’s interests include helping to bring integrative sustainability solutions to long-term problems impacting the social, economic, and environmental systems affecting Michigan communities. He was instrumental in establishing the School of Agriculture for the Humid Tropics (EARTH University) in Costa Rica and currently serves on several national boards and councils, including the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, Earth University Futures Task Force, and the International Food Protection Training Institute in Kalamazoo.

Kathryn T. Harper (Mullett Lake, MI)

Kathryn Harper is the granddaughter of Adolph and Ginger Meyer. As children, Kate and her brother Jonathan spent time with their grandparents and developed a deep appreciation the Meyers’ commitment to preserving “all things American,” especially high-quality, handcrafted items that reflect the spirit of early America. She often spent weekends and summer vacations visiting Tollgate Farm with her grandparents, where she developed a keen interest in preserving open spaces and protecting Michigan’s water and other natural resources. Kate and her husband Robb produce Edible WOW, a farm-to-table sustainable agriculture magazine.

Robert A. Janson (The Villages, FL)

Bob Janson grew up in Frankenmuth, MI and was the first in his family to graduate from college. After graduating from Central Michigan University, he began a 35-year career in education, first in St. Clair Shores, MI as a teacher and coach. After earning advanced degrees at Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State, he became superintendent of the Lakeview Public Schools in St. Clair Shores and then the Mt. Pleasant Public Schools. He is co-founder of the Mt. Pleasant Leadership Institute, Past President of the Mt. Pleasant Community Foundation, Former Regional President of the Michigan Leadership Institute, and Past President of the Central Michigan University Alumni Association. He is currently President of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Scholarship Committee in The Villages, FL, and the Team Leader of the My Time for Free Time Respite Care Program.

Gary R. Rentrop (Harbor Springs, MI)

Gary Rentrop is the founding Partner of the Rentrop & Morrison, P.C., a law firm in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan that focuses on municipal law, land use and zoning, historic preservation, and estate planning law. Gary has extensive litigation and transactional law expertise in land use planning, real estate, and historic preservation. He served as chief counsel for Adolph and Ginger Meyer before they passed away and currently is legal counsel to the City of Mackinac Island in the area of historic preservation. He is on the Litigation Approval Committee of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and is Chair of ELPC’s Michigan Advisory Council.

Jonathan Meyer Thomas (Centennial, CO)

For more than three decades Jonathan Thomas has been mobilizing capital into philanthropic causes and impact investment opportunities, simultaneously serving as trustee or board member for numerous mission-driven transformational organizations dedicated to serving environmental, social impact and arts-related issues. His current focus is cultivating value-added partnerships to focus on proper treatment of depression and related mental health illnesses. He continues to support the growing investment opportunities in agriculture, water, transportation and clean energy solutions, across the United States, and globally.

Jonathan is a trusted partner to ultra-high net worth individuals, affluent families and family offices, foundations, venture capital, wealth management and investment advisory firms. He provides strategic advisory services to organizations looking to create new strategic partnerships, organizations seeking capital, as well as services to organizations and individuals requiring support in effectively deploying intellectual, human and financial capital in support of purposeful enterprises. Jonathan graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado.

Jumana Vasi (Ann Arbor, MI)

Jumana Vasi is the Principal at JVasi Consulting, LLC. She focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating effective nonprofit programs and strategies that prioritize just and equitable outcomes.  In her consulting role, Jumana has led projects for the National Audubon Society, American Rivers, River Network, and the Midwest Environmental Justice Network. 

For over eight years, Jumana was a program officer in the C. S. Mott Foundation’s Environment Program. She managed the Great Lakes grantmaking program which focused on protecting lakes, rivers, and wetlands. In response to Flint’s drinking water crisis, Jumana developed a new grantmaking area to help build an advocacy movement to support safe, affordable, and efficient water services for all Great Lakes residents. She previously also worked at Enlace Chicago and The Resurrection Project. In addition to the Americana Foundation, Jumana currently serves on the boards of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, River Network, and the Windward Fund.

Matthew J. Wawro (Bay Harbor, MI)

Matt Wawro is the Development Director for the Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor, MI.  Matt’s professional development experience spans over 25 years and includes institutes of higher education and a variety of non-profit organizations. Matt has served at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Cranbrook Schools, Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Ford Historic Estates in various development roles. Most recently, he completed a significant campaign for the restoration of Fair Lane Estate, the 100-year old home of Henry and Clara Ford. Matt also serves community organizations in various roles, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Rotary Club. Matt graduated from the University of Michigan and received his Masters’ degree from Central Michigan University.

Staff

Kathryn A. Buckner, Executive Director (Farmington Hills, MI)

Kathryn has been Executive Director of the Americana Foundation since January 2019. Prior to joining Americana, she was the President of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, a tax-exempt business association that promotes sustainability in the Great Lakes region. Before joining CGLI, Kathryn was a practicing environmental attorney who helped business and municipal clients develop proactive strategies for managing environmental challenges and opportunities. Kathryn has a JD cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a MBA with highest honors from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and a MS in Sustainable Systems from the University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability. 

Cindy Prentice, Office Assistant and Grants Manager (Novi, MI)

Formerly an environmental education teacher, Cindy has worked with the Foundation for over 25 years. She provides administrative and office support for the Board of Trustees and Executive Director and is responsible for the technical and administrative aspects of the Foundation’s grant program. Cindy lives at MSU Tollgate Farm, the 160-acre historic farmstead originally owned by Adolph and Ginger Meyer, where she and her husband Roy, who manages the farm property, raised their family. Cindy loves to garden and continues to be interested in environmental education and impact. She earned her Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Psychology and Recreation and Parks Administration from Eastern Kentucky University and her Teacher’s Certification from Michigan State University.