March 12, 2009

Former Henry County farmers Hal Hamilton and Susan Sweitzer will return to Kentucky as invited speakers during the 2009 W. Norris Duvall Leaders in Residence event, March 30 through April 3.

Hosted by the Center for Leadership Development in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, the program brings to the UK campus nationally- and world-renowned leaders who are known for their ethical style of decision making, focusing in particular on those with a Kentucky background.

This year, the Leader in Residence program concentrates on sustainable agriculture and has invited Hamilton and Sweitzer, director and program officer, respectively, of the Sustainable Food Laboratory, to share their experiences in this field. The Sustainable Food Laboratory is made up of members from more than 70 organizations that include farming, manufacturing, food service, retail, social, environmental non-governmental organizations and the public sector. The Sustainable Food Lab's pilot projects involve businesses and civil society partners. Some pilot projects target poverty alleviation in Africa and Latin America, others re-regionalize food supply, while still others focus on reducing the environmental footprints of supply chains.

Beginning in the 1970s, Hamilton and Sweitzer spent 15 years in Henry County running a commercial dairy operation. Susan received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Eastern Kentucky University and her bachelor's in psychology from Earlham College. She developed and managed low income rural/urban public health projects and served as a clinical nurse in a public health setting in Madison County. The couple currently raise Icelandic sheep and produce alfalfa hay and maple syrup on a Vermont farm-based eco-village.

Prior to his involvement with the Sustainable Food Lab, Hal Hamilton served consecutively as executive director for three organizations: Community Farm Alliance, Center for Sustainable Systems and the Vermont-based Sustainability Institute. He is a frequent guest faculty lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloane School of Management, the MIT Presencing Institute, the Harvard Business School, the Society for Organizational Learning, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Susan currently works with teams managing three Sustainable Food Lab Value Chain projects.

During their week-long stay in Kentucky, Hamilton and Sweitzer will provide thought-provoking lectures and lead in-depth discussions on leadership topics in the area sustainable agriculture and food systems.

"Through this program we are striving to honor Mr. Duvall's desire that his resources be invested in efforts to encourage the next generation of leaders to learn and practice integrity, ethical behavior and service-oriented leadership," said Tricia Dyk, director of the Center for Leadership Development.

The center invites those interested in sustainable agriculture and food systems to a public forum, "Strategies for Improving Food System Sustainability - Niche and Mainstream," at 7 p.m. April 1 in Gorham Hall in the E. S. Good Barn on the UK campus. Free parking is available adjacent to the building, which stands on the corner of University Drive and Farm Road.

For more information contact Lissa Pohl at 859-699-0025.