About Us

The Center for Rural Policy and Development, based in St. Peter, Minn., is a non-partisan, not-for-profit policy research organization dedicated to benefiting Minnesota by providing its policy makers with an unbiased evaluation of issues from a rural perspective. To fulfill this mission, we work with academic and non-academic researchers from throughout the state to design and conduct our research projects.

The Center’s board members come from all over the state, representing a variety of interests. Thirteen are appointed by the Governor and two are appointed by the House and Senate leadership; all members represent different aspects of rural Minnesota. Remaining members consist of  five at large positions and are  nominated then voted on by the board members themselves. The board works closely with staff to help guide the direction of the Center, to set research priorities and to help make the Center a presence in the rural policy community. To view our strategic plan, click here.


Brad Finstad
Executive Director
Marnie Werner
Research Director



Board of Directors

William McCormack
The Schwan Food Co. (retired);
Schwan’s Development Co.;
Schwan’s Venture Group Inc.

Steve Wenzel
Vice Chair
Central Lakes College

Nancy Straw
West Central Initiative
Fergus Falls

Eunice Biel

Rep. Kathy Brynaert
Minn. House of Representatives

Dave Chura
Minnesota Logger Education Program

Richard Davenport
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Neil Eckles
Blue Earth Valley Communications
Blue Earth

Wade Fauth
Blandin Foundation
Grand Rapids


Amy Fredregill
Cooperative Network
St. Paul

Dawn Hegland
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC

Timothy Houle
Crow Wing County Administrator


Anne Klein
Pine City

Dave Ladd
RDL Associates LLC

Tony LookingElk
Otto Bremer Foundation
Saint Paul


Kevin Paap
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Garden City

Tony Sertich
Iron Range Resources

Tim Velde
Minnesota Farmers Union
Granite Falls


Ron Zeigler
Community Economic Development Association