For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment, the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.
— Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Danielle Diamond, Co-Founder

Danielle Diamond is the Director of Field Operations for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP). She is an attorney who has worked extensively as a community organizer and environmental policy advocate, addressing the critical problems arising from industrial livestock production in rural communities. She published “Illinois’ Failure to Regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Accordance with the Federal Clean Water Act” in the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law in 2006. More recently, she co-authored “Property Rights and Rural Justice: A Study of U.S. Right-To-Farm Laws” in the Journal of Rural Studies in 2019 and “Where’s the Farmer? Limiting Liability in Midwestern Industrial Hog Production” in Rural Sociology in 2013.

Danielle is also the primary author of the pending USEPA Citizens’ Petition for Withdrawal of the Clean Water Act NPDES Program Delegation from the State of Illinois, which is based on the state’s failure to appropriately regulate large-scale industrial livestock facilities. Her work on environmental issues related to industrial animal agriculture began in Illinois and then led to consulting and managing community advocacy campaigns nationwide. Danielle continues her work in environmental policy as a Research Associate with the Department of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University (NIU), a position she held before joining SRAP. Previously, she worked in private practice specializing in land use, zoning, and municipal law with the firm of Diamond & LeSueur, PC. She received her master’s degree in applied environmental anthropology with high honors from NIU in 2007 and her Juris Doctor from the NIU College of Law in 2003.

Karen Hudson, Co-Founder

Karen Hudson resides on a fifth generation Illinois farm and is graduate of Illinois State University. She has spent much of the past two decades informing citizens, the media, educators and decision makers about the devastating impacts of CAFOs. She served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. As an “educational activist,” she teaches others about research and case histories regarding public health and the social, environmental, and economic externalities of industrial animal production. Karen is co-founder of the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW), which assists and empowers citizens on CAFO issues in over 30 counties in her state. She is also a founder of Families Against Rural Messes (F.A.R.M), a grassroots coalition in West Central Illinois organized in 1996 to oppose CAFO expansion. Karen was appointed to Illinois House/Senate Joint Livestock Advisory Committee in 1997 to study and make recommendations regarding Illinois livestock regulations. Karen was a presenter at TEDX Manhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” in February 2011 her presentation, “The Price Tag of Corporate Ag” was aired in more than forty viewing parties around the world. Karen is one of three national activists highlighted in the book "Animal Factory" by bestselling author David Kirby. Karen was named local “Conservationist of the Year” by the Illinois Sierra Club. Karen toured Poland as a guest of the Polish Veterinary Chamber and Polish Farmer’s Union. While there she educated Polish media and farmers about the devastating impacts of CAFOs in the United States and was named an honorary member of the Polish Ecological Society, Polski Klub Ekologiczny, for her work. In 2017, Karen was honored as two decades profiling her sustainable agriculture work was installed in the permanent oral archives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois. 

Dr. Kendall Thu, Co-Founder

Kendall Thu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University. He received his BA from the University of California, Irvine and his Master’s and PhD (1992) in anthropology from the University of Iowa. From 1993 to 1999 he was the Associate Director of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health and a Research Scientist for the Institute for Rural and Environmental Health, at the University of Iowa. In the fall of 1999 he joined the faculty at Northern Illinois University in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Thu was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman to the National Agricultural Air Quality Task Force from 1999-2000. He has chaired the Committee on Public Policy for the American Anthropological Association, is a Fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology, and is past-President of the Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association. He is a founding member of the Illinois Farmer Consumer Coalition. His current research focuses on industrial food systems, including: 1) environmental health, public health, and rural socioeconomic change; 2) policy and agricultural politics; and 3) risk factors for farm-related health and injuries. Dr. Thu has published a range of chapters and articles on the rapid industrialization of the livestock sector.

Barbara Ashwood, Director of Community Outreach

Barbara Ashwood comes from a long line of farmers and grew up surrounded by cornfields and cows on her family’s farm in Southeastern McDonough County.  She earned a B.A. in English and Women’s Studies (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi) from Illinois Wesleyan University and an M.A. in English from the Ohio State University.  After graduate school, she returned to the area in 2005 and taught creative writing, composition, and general honors classes at Western Illinois University for fourteen years.  During this time, Barbara and her neighbors successfully prevented the construction of an 18,220 head swine CAFO and founded the non-profit group Rural Residents for Responsible Agriculture, which Barbara served as president of from 2011-2014. 

Barbara has presented and published on CAFO issues, including work in the Journal of Rural Social Sciences, the Chicago Tribune, the River Rock Times, and local nonfiction periodicals.  She is committed to preserving the environmental integrity of rural Illinois through responsible agricultural practices and, as ICCAW’s Director of Community Outreach, continues to educate and empower other rural citizens.