Ten seats are open in the Western Region.

CENTRAL – 2 Seats 

Julie Betschart – Ripon, CA
Agriculture has been a foundation in my life having grown up on a family almond and walnut farm. This opportunity taught me life skills far exceeding any college classroom and is an industry I believe needs to have more individuals willing to advocate for. I believe being a member of the nominating committee allows me to contribute to this process.

Justin Finsley – Clements, CA
The variety of my work experience in defense (US Air Force), finance (value investing and financial equity options), and agriculture (Chandler Walnuts, Independence Almonds and Old Vine Zinfandel) has uniquely prepared me for decision making and advising. My diversity of experience gives me the uncommon ability to see pictures in a different light than others. I seek to add value to the committee by adding different angles to consider. I want to help shape our board with those who can take AgCredit lending to a future that will need to compete with emerging industry disrupters like peer to peer lending while balancing risk with a global reach. Increasing my own exposure to the Farm Credit system allows me as an operator to gain knowledge. I also want to take an active part in this amazing community as the Farm Credit system is a competitive advantage specific to agriculture and rural America that isn’t well understood, and that we can solve together.

Janie Gatzman – Oakdale, CA
I would like to learn more about the nominating process and board structure of AAC, and feel I can contribute to the association in a positive way utilizing my background in agricultural business and leadership.

NORTH – 2 Seats

Ken Avery – Lafayette, CA
American AgCredit has been a tremendous partner to Lula Cellars over the past 5+ years. As I transition into my retirement from Deloitte, I would like to share my background and business experience to the benefit of American AgCredit. I feel that a good starting point for learning more about the business and seeing how my background and experience could best benefit the organization would be to serve on the Nominating Committee. In my career I have worked with senior leadership and boards of directors on complex financial, crisis and leadership issues. My industry experience starts with the wine business and extends to financial services, technology, telecommunications, consumer products and rate regulated utilities. I feel that I have a lot to contribute to the continued growth and success of American AgCredit and would like to start with becoming part of the nominating committee for 2019.

Christopher Hyde – Napa, CA
It is my desire to increase local cooperation and participation with our principal lender, Ag Credit. I hope to bring my knowledge and understanding of our local farming community to the table and get my region more involved at the Board level.

Clay Mauritson – Healdsburg, CA
Very simply, I want to be a part of the nominating committee because I want to get involved and affect change. I believe there are too many people that sit on the sidelines and complain instead of being part of a change/solution. My family has done business with American AgCredit for three generations, and I hope that continues for many more, but the banking industry is evolving and it is getting tougher for family businesses to secure financing. I hope that by representing small, generational, family business on the nominating committee, and someday on the board of directors, I can ensure that families like ours will continue to do business with American AgCredit for generations to come.

John Muhlner – St Helena, CA
I spent over 20 years in commercial banking retiring from Union Bank in San Francisco about 13 years ago. With my past credit and strong operations experience in the banking community coupled with about 20 years of successful farming/ranching, I believe I can contribute significantly to the American AgCredit program(s) by representing both the small and large farmers or ranchers.

Tyler Rodrigue – Ukiah, CA
I was approached with the opportunity to apply for the Nominating Committee and learn more about how American AgCredit works for its members. I’m intrigued with opportunity to become more involved with American AgCredit and explore how I can help add value to the organization. As a customer of American AgCredit, I’ve been very impressed with the service, knowledge and can-do approach of the entire team. The institutional experience of American AgCredit has been exceptionally helpful in creative finance solutions that are fair and helpful.

SALINAS – 2 Seats

Tom Bengard – Salinas, CA
I would like to continue to serve on the nominating committee for American AgCredit. It has been a great learning experience and it has given me the opportunity to meet other leaders in the agriculture industry from many different areas. I feel that the experience that I have gained while working in agriculture can be a benefit to the nominating committee and to American AgCredit as a whole.

Megan Rodkin – Castroville, CA
Joining the Nominating Committee of American AgCredit would be a fruitful way for me to draw on my experiences both as an owner of a nursery business as well as my background as a corporate lawyer. Personally, I find the most rewarding work to be work where I can draw on my experience as a nursery owner and lawyer at the same time. It’s a unique cross-section that I would be able to draw on as a member of the Nominating Committee, and I would love the opportunity to do so at American AgCredit.

SOUTH – 2 Seats

Edward Embly – Escondido, CA
I feel that I have a wide ranging background, in many agricultural commodities, which is useful in selecting members that are well suited to be board members for AgCredit. Looking over the list of members on the present Board of Directors, I think that I would bring experience from several commodities that could be better represented in the Western-Southern District. Having served on the 2018/2019 Nominating Committee I have the experience and knowledge of what is needed to select candidates for the election process.

Steve Van Houten – Murrieta, CA

The mission of American AgCredit is to “Be the best lender to Agriculture.” Agriculture is a pivotal and historic industry in the US. In my time working with AgCredit, I have found that is a great company with a fantastic team. I am impressed with this organization and a supporter of its mission. I would like to serve on the Nominating Committee to help insure it continues on its successful path providing a critical service to our agriculture industry. My background of leadership positions in agriculture, real estate and corporate finance provides me with a skill set to enhance the committee. My background also includes an MBA in Finance and Strategy, the Eagle Scout award and several years as a college professor. I look forward to being part of American AgCredit’s team and future.


Lani Estill – Cedarville, CA
My experience and knowledge of agricultural enterprises coupled with my financial, Human Resources and business background are well suited for the American Ag Credit Nominating Committee. As a new member this year, I have learned what is expected and feel like I am just understanding the position and expectations of the Committee. I would like to continue to contribute in a positive way to this important committee. I feel that the expertise of the committee enable the organization to put the most qualified Board Member Candidates to the membership to select as their Board Members. When done, we should feel that whoever the membership chooses will do a superior job for American AgCredit and most importantly, the borrowers who are the life blood of the organization.

Pete Olsen – Fallon, NV
We have banked with American AgCredit for many years. I would like to serve by being on the nominating committee.

Abrahm Schank – Fallon, NV
I look forward to serving on the AAC Nominating Committee for the values experience and association of other shareholders from across the Region.