Robert A. Janson
Rick Foster, PhD
Matthew J. Wawro
Rick Foster, PhD
Rick Foster retired in 2018 from Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he held an Endowed Chair in Food, Society and Sustainability. Prior to joining MSU, Rick spent 17 years as Vice President for Programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, specializing in Food Systems, Rural Development, Environmental Programs, and Leadership. Rick’s interests include helping to bring integrative sustainability solutions to long-term problems impacting the social, economic, and environmental systems affecting Michigan communities. He was instrumental in establishing the School of Agriculture for the Humid Tropics (EARTH University) in Costa Rica and currently serves on several national boards and councils. Rick remains active in his church and community and enjoys spending quality time with his family.
Kathryn (Kate) Harper (she/her/hers)
Kate is the proud granddaughter of Americana’s founders, Adolph and Ginger Meyer. Her connection to the Foundation is deeply rooted in family history. The collection of American art and antiques that her grandparents created has a special place in her heart and is reflected in her passion for preserving and promoting the cultural heritage it represents. She and her siblings enjoyed many weekend days at Tollgate Farm and learned at an early age the importance of preserving Michigan agriculture and natural resources. As trustee, Kate works to safeguard the legacy and values instilled by her grandparents and to effectuate their belief in the power of early American art, furniture, decorative arts, and culture to enrich lives.
As co-owner and publisher of Edible WOW Magazine for more than 15 years, Kate became deeply involved in the local food landscape in Michigan. She collaborated closely with farmers, farmers markets, chefs, and purveyors who shared a passion for the locavore movement and the vitality of urban gardening. Kate is a founding member of the Carver-Carson Society at The Henry Ford Museum, which is dedicated to agricultural and environmental education at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Through this work, she developed a profound appreciation for the impact of grassroots efforts in building vibrant and sustainable communities.
Kate lives in the City of Detroit with her husband Robb. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, rooftop gardening, and exploring ways to deepen the impact of the Americana Foundation and preserve her grandparents’ legacy.
Robert A. Janson
The Villages, FL
Bob Janson grew up on a farm in Frankenmuth, MI and was the first in his family to graduate from college. After graduating from Central Michigan University, he began a 35-year career in education, first as a teacher and coach, and then as superintendent of the Lakeview Public Schools in St. Clair Shores and then the Mt. Pleasant Public Schools. Bob brought his leadership experience to the Americana Foundation Board of Trustees in 1995 and has been President for over 25 years. He shares Americana’s commitment to protecting agricultural land and promoting locally grown food systems and has a particular interest in programs that support students and families with the greatest need. His current mission as President is to guide the Americana Foundation Board as it continues to plan for a better future in the program areas.
Jonathan Meyer Thomas
Vail Valley, CO
Jonathan is the grandson of Americana’s founders, Adolph and Ginger Meyer. He has a passion for his grandparents’ original intent of preserving authentic early American art and protecting natural resources. He especially appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with grantees and other funders to maximize the Foundation’s impact. Jonathan’s economics degree from the University of Denver, post-graduate studies in finance and banking, and career in the single and multi-family office sectors speak to his dedication to the responsible stewardship of financial assets and resources. He is Chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee.
Jonathan returns frequently to his home state of Michigan but now resides primarily in the Vail Valley of Colorado. He enjoys the activities and natural attributes of each area – fly fishing, bird hunting, snow skiing, sailing, jet boarding, hiking, biking, and golf.
Matthew J. Wawro
Grand Rapids, MI
Matt’s professional experience on behalf of educational and non-profit organizations spans more than 25 years, giving him an outstanding foundation in philanthropic development and deep expertise in helping to position organizations to better serve their communities. He has led large capital campaigns involving donor support and donor relations across the country, with the ultimate goal of enhancing organizational capacity to pursue and achieve mission in their given communities. He serves as a Trustee of the Americana Foundation for the same reason—to empower organizations to maximize their capacity for positively impacting people’s lives.
Matt graduated with a BA from the University of Michigan and an MSA from Central Michigan University. He became a private consultant in June 2023, bringing his years of experience to Philanthropic Partner LLC.
Kathryn A. Buckner (she/her)
Farmington Hills, MI
Kathryn has been Executive Director of the Americana Foundation since January 2019. An experienced environmental lawyer, Kathryn brings the systems approach she developed as a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise to identify program priorities, develop relationships, and guide the Foundation to ever more impactful grantmaking. When not at work, Kathryn is an avid but only semi-successful gardener, a courageous DIYer, and loves to visit her children and grandchildren or hang out with Tully, her beloved Labrador.