Steger Wilderness Center board chair Julie Ristau has a proven track record of clarifying a vision and then making it happen in practical terms. Her extraordinary background dovetails well with the mission of the Center.

A few of her start-up projects have included helping launch and lead Utne Reader magazine; serving as co-chair of Homegrown Minneapolis, the local food initiative for the mayor’s office; holding an endowed chair as part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; and founding Regeneration Partnership, a strategic problem-solving collaborative for communities in southern Minnesota. As current chief operating officer for The Main Street Project in Northfield, Minn., she’s spent more than two years building a research and demonstration farm.

“I definitely know what it’s like to embark on a very large project that requires concentrated focus, resources and commitment over time. That’s what we’re doing at the Center, too,” Ristau said.

She lives in Minneapolis and has worked closely with Will Steger as a senior advisor for the Center since 2012. During that time, she’s built its nonprofit platform, coordinated its communications strategy and website, assembled a public relations team to introduce the Center’s microgrid, and works with Steger and the board on strategic planning. She became board chair in 2015.

Ristau said the Steger Wilderness Center is important as a place where people can gather to reimagine the future, re-skill and reconnect to the elements. “Our future really relies on us tending to and taking care of the resources that we all must share. Will’s work is a testament to that. His commitment to future generations is inspiring.

“I believe that interacting with the Wilderness Center is life-changing for anybody who connects with it. I am honored to be playing a role to bring it to its next phase of completion.”

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