Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance’s Steadfast Leadership
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.
Danny oversees the day-to-day operations for IAWA. Danny’s diverse expertise combines information technology, law, and executive leadership. He has served as chief technology officer, attorney, and court administrator under state courts in Florida, Colorado, Illinois, and Arizona. As executive director, Danny has guided all administrative and operational functions of multi-level organizations, including project management, budgets, finance, funding, contracts, MOUs, grants, auditing, data analysis, and planning. Danny grew up on a livestock and grain farm in northern Mississippi, where he learned a deep appreciation for natural resources. Danny holds two graduate-level degrees from the University of Mississippi — a Master of Science in Engineering Science with an emphasis in Computer Science and a Juris Doctor. In law school, he studied environmental law and was a research associate for the National Sea Grant Law Center, researching issues impacting the ocean and coastal environment, including nutrient runoff from farming.
Rebekah drives the communication of water quality needs and strategies. A journalism graduate of The University of Iowa, Rebekah previously told stories around the country - talking to farmers in Iowa about the cost of land, growers in California about fruit production, and hearing from small business owners in Alabama about the importance of coastal conservation. In Colorado Springs, Rebekah anchored the weekday morning newscast for the CBS affiliate for four years and won a Regional Edward R Murrow award for her documentary about COVID-19. IAWA brings Rebekah back to her roots. She was raised on a corn, soybean, and cattle farm in Northeast Iowa and will always remember when her dad took her out to the fields, put dirt in her hands, and explained what kind of topsoil is the backbone of their farm. She and her husband, Ryan, bought a farm with their family in 2022. Together they’re planning conservation strategies to protect the soil and water for years to come.
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.
Emma Harper coordinates and executes fundraising and development projects and initiatives within the IAWA team to advance IAWA’s mission of increasing the pace and scale of farmer-led efforts to improve water quality in Iowa. Emma grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in southwestern Iowa where she grew her passion for agriculture. This passion drove her to pursue her B.S. degrees in Agriculture Communication and Global Resource Systems at Iowa State University (ISU). In addition to a 2-year internship with IAWA as the Relationship Management intern, she also gained valuable marketing experience as a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association and fundraising experience through ISU’s Up Til’ Dawn fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Emma is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.