January 20, 2017


Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance's Steadfast Leadership

Small body of water with some prairie grass and cloudy sky

Executive Director Sean McMahon of Iowa Agriculture Water AllianceSean McMahon | Executive Director

Sean McMahon works with key partners to champion farmer engagement and adoption of conservation practices that improve water quality. Sean has more than 20 years of experience in conservation and agriculture including leading diverse coalitions dedicated to improving water quality. He formerly directed The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) North America Agriculture Program. He also served as state director of the Iowa Chapter of TNC where he chaired the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy campaign. Prior to that, he directed national land stewardship campaigns with the National Wildlife Federation. Sean served in a variety of senior staff positions at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Sean is a member of the Farm Foundation Roundtable and serves on the board of the CropLife Foundation. He is also chair of the Conservation Reserve Program Subcommittee of the Iowa NRCS State Technical Committee, serves on an advisory body for the U.S. Soybean Export Council and the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award Selection Committee.

Zita Quade Director of CommunicationsZita Quade | Director of Communications

Zita Quade manages the communications activities for IAWA, including public relations, social media, and digital marketing initiatives. She brings more than 30 years of communications experience to the organization. Zita works with IAWA’s founding organizations and multiple partners to coordinate communications outreach concerning efforts to improve water quality. She has worked at regional, national, and international levels to increase the understanding and awareness for new agricultural technologies throughout her career. This includes work for life science companies, animal health organizations, and livestock industry associations. Zita grew up on a grain and livestock farm in northwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism.

Emma Harper PortraitEmma Harper | Communications Intern

Emma Harper’s passion for agriculture began at a young age when she started her family sheep farm in 3rd grade.  Since then, she has continued to increase her knowledge of the agriculture industry by majoring in Agriculture Communication and Global Resource Systems at Iowa State University(ISU).

While at ISU, she has been a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association competition team that created and competed with a marketing plan for an innovative product in the agriculture industry.  Just prior to joining IAWA, she completed an internship with the World Food Prize, assisting in the planning and implementation of the Iowa Youth Institute event.  She diversified her knowledge by traveling to Uganda to teach 5th-grade students about soil science and to conduct experiments on leafy-vegetable preservation methods.  She will use her agricultural background and communication skills to assist with a wide range of IAWA conservation and communications programs that will improve water quality and support Iowa farmers.

Director of Programs and Operations Jim Jordahl of Iowa Agriculture Water AllianceJim Jordahl | Director of Programs and Operations

Jim Jordahl helps farmers and environmental experts implement conservation practices and innovations that have a positive impact on water quality. Jim brings more than 30 years of experience working in farming operations, soil science, engineering and environmental science, and project management to IAWA, including over 6 years of experience working directly with Iowa farmers to apply conservation practices. He has worked in various aspects of nutrient management including advising wastewater treatment facilities on land application. While gaining most of his expertise in the United States working for public and private entities, Jim also has worked on water quality projects in a number of other countries. He leverages all of these experiences to coordinate water quality efforts of key partners and plan and manage projects and proposals.

Program Coordinator Kaitlin Little of Iowa Agriculture Water AllianceKaitlin Little | Program Coordinator

Kaitlin touches nearly every corner of our work. She organizes meetings and events with internal and external partners, assists in funding development, helps track budgets and provides support to the communications team. Kaitlin grew up outside of a small town in Northeast Iowa where she gained working knowledge of farm life through summers of rock picking and detasseling; and through chores on her friends’ and neighbors’ farms. As a result of these experiences, she developed a passion for agriculture. This passion grew throughout her year-long communications internship with IAWA while she was still a student at Iowa State University. She brings this knowledge and passion to her role and looks forward to helping urban and rural entities work collaboratively to improve water quality.