Seed Savers Exchange, Inc., (SSE) a leading non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds, announced one June 25 that Executive Director and President Aaron Whaley has resigned to pursue his dream of being a farmer.
Whaley grew up at Seed Savers Exchange, as the son of co-founders Kent Whealy and Diane Ott Whealy. He began working for the organization in a full-time professional capacity in 1996. Whaley led the commercial seed sales operation before he took over as Executive Director and President in mid-December 2009 when George DeVault left the job to return to his family farm in Pennsylvania.
“The loss of good people, such as Aaron and George, is what makes being a part of this movement bittersweet,” said Chair of the Board, Amy P. Goldman. “Such individuals believe so deeply in sustainable and organic agriculture that the chance to be a farmer, and not an executive, is hard to resist. Aaron was given a golden opportunity to become a full-time farmer, and he took it. We all understand his motivation.”
In addition to his work at SSE, Whaley had raised cattle and farmed on the side for years in the Decorah, Iowa area. He and his family will be moving to a 30-acre farm near Madison, Wis.
As one might expect, Diane Ott Whealy, who is a Vice President at Seed Savers Exchange, has mixed emotions over Whaley’s departure. “I was proud when Aaron was named the head of SSE, but I am just as proud that he is following his own dream — even though I am sad to see him go,” said Ott Whealy. Whaley’s knowledge and management skills will be missed. “Aaron is following his calling and we wish him well,” said Goldman. “We'll visit him at the Dane County Farmers Market, which is one of the best in the world.”
Reflecting on his decision, Whaley said, “Working for Seed Savers for the past 14 years has been a wonderful experience. I have enjoyed working with everyone here and wish only the best for Seed Savers Exchange moving forward.” Goldman said an executive search will be undertaken to identify the next leader of Seed Savers Exchange.
Founded in l975, Seed Savers Exchange operates an 890-acre farm in northeast Iowa where thousands of rare fruit, vegetable, and other plant varieties are regenerated and preserved in a central collection. Its mission is saving the world’s diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.
For more information about the open position, read the Seed Savers Position Description.
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