New Leadership Team for Morris Foundation

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation Board has unanimously approved a new leadership team and the addition of two new board members.

Longtime cooperative leader William J. Nelson was named chair of the board, taking over for longtime chair Christopher Morris. Son of the foundation’s namesake, Morris will continue to serve on the board and provide leadership on a number of initiatives.

Joining Nelson on the leadership team is Joel Nilsestuen. He is the son of the late Rod Nilsestuen. Like Ralph K. Morris, Rod Nilsestuen was a longtime cooperative leader. Both are enshrined in the national Cooperative Hall of Fame. In addition, two cooperative leaders were named to the foundation board. They are Shari Wormwood and Anne Reynolds.

William Nelson is a founding member of the Morris Foundation Board member and a member of the Cooperative Hall of Fame. He served as vice president of corporate citizenship for CHS Inc. and president of the CHS Foundation, retiring in 2016. He is an independent consultant who works with educational organizations, membership associations, cooperatives, and non-profits as they address personal, professional, and organizational transitions.

He is engaged in a number of national boards and foundations, and is a member of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Good Food Access Program Advisory Committee. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the Southern Federation of Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund’s Co-op Roundtable. He was a founding member of ASHCA, the Ag Safety and Health Council of America, served as its first Chair of the Board, and continues to serve on its Board of Directors.

Joel Nilsestuen leads the government and community relations functions of the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater and is responsible for developing and maintaining strategic partnerships. In this role, Joel draws on his experience working in state and federal government and the non-profit sectors. Joel has been a member of the Morris Foundation Board of Directors since 2012. He is a graduate of St. Olaf College and resides in Madison, WI with his wife, Danica, and their growing family.

Nilsestuen’s father led the Cooperative Network for a number of years before becoming Wisconsin’s secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Following his death in 2010, the Morris Foundation established the Rod Nilsestuen Legacy Fund, which supports foundation activities that include an annual symposium at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.