The Thoreau College Steering team
Jacob grew up on a dairy farm in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin and was one of the founding students of the Youth Initiative High School. He studied and gathered inspiration for transformation in higher education at Deep Springs College, the American University in Bulgaria, and the University of Chicago Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences, earning a BA in History and an MA in Social Sciences. Since 2004, he has worked as a trained Waldorf high school teacher and guidance counselor at the Youth Initiative High School and was a founding board member and instructor of the Driftless Folk School. Jacob is passionate about the importance of the liberal arts for our civilization and motivated to create a model that enables students to freely choose a post-secondary education dedicated to the cultivation of thinking, feeling, and willing.
Robert is a long-time social entrepreneur in the sustainable food and farming movement. Robert has helped start numerous innovative food projects, including community supported agriculture projects (CSAs), farmers’ markets, institutional buying projects and farmer-buyer-consumer alliances. He is also the founder of New Spirit Farmland Partnerships, LLC, which helps organic and sustainable farmers acquire farmland by linking them with ethical investors. Robert is the former executive director of Practical Farmers of Iowa and former board chair of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. Robert’s writings include an analysis of the sustainable food and farming movement in the light of Rudolf Steiner’s economic insights titled Toward an Associative Economy in the Sustainable Food and Farming Movement and an essay titled “Community and Agriculture: An Iowa Pilgrimage” published by Free River Press in Eating in Place: Telling the Story of Local Foods. Robert lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and serves as the Co-Director of the Biodynamic Association of North America.
Jan grew up urban and rural – she has a cosmopolitan mind, but her soul belongs to the Land. An experimental high school program set her path towards innovative education. She graduated from Swarthmore College, received a Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and recently earned a Doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Education. For decades she has envisioned education that integrates body, mind, spirit, imagination, and social consciousness in a transformative way. Having found Thoreau College, Jan has finally found her “tribe”. She brings experience with teaching, innovative curriculum and program design, and deep engagement with communities of other cultures and faiths; skills as an artisan, healer, and organic gardener; and, a deep commitment to social justice and contemplative practice. Jan longs to see Thoreau College model the transformative power of collaborative communities that nurture many of ways of knowing and engage one’s whole being. She believes nothing less will prepare us to co-create the emerging world, and bring us joy!
Christine grew up in a few different places in Wisconsin, all while attending Waldorf schools. After attending the Youth Initiative High School, she found it difficult to find a form of higher education that fit her needs. So she sought elsewhere for alternative ways to learn. She traveled and attended Biodynamic agriculture training at the Pfeiffer Center in New York. While she was there, she heard about Thoreau College starting. Having struggled to find higher education to fit her needs for head, heart, and hands-based learning, helping to create this type of opportunity for alternative higher education seemed like a journey worth embarking on. Upon finishing her time at the Pfeiffer Center she returned to the beautiful Driftless Region of Wisconsin, and began searching for ways she could get involved. Christine truly believes that alternative higher education has a real place in this world and feels so grateful to be involved in bringing this college to fruition.
Liz and her family moved to Viroqua nearly 25 years ago. In that time she has served on the Board of Trustees and the Development staff at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School, and as Development Officer and Administrator at the Youth Initiative High School. She was a founding Board member of the Viroqua Food Co-op, and currently serves on the board of the Threshold Care Circle. She has a BA in Comparative Literature from the UW-Madison, and a Certificate in Waldorf School Administration from Rudolf Steiner College. Liz recognizes Thoreau College as a brilliant and natural next step for this community of initiators, where we are all engaged in the work of rediscovering our deep relationships between humans, nature, and the spiritual world.
Davina moved from northwestern Germany to Viroqua after completing her Masters in Eurythmy Pedagogy in Stuttgart. Her main focus in her first year of teaching experience was the question of how eurythmy class can inspire higher levels of engagement for boys during puberty. Her interest in how one learns and how learning environments can be created for children, adolescents and adults to unfold their innate potential brought her to the United States to experience greater freedom for self-directed education and to be a co-founder of Thoreau College. Having been raised in the countryside and having received a Waldorf education, she brings experience in a variety of practical skills, a training as a seamstress and a love for eurythmy that sprouted in her early childhood by her mother's work as a therapeutic eurythmist.