Semilla Nueva - New Seed

Board of Directors

Semilla Nueva is overseen by both a Guatemalan and US Board of Directors, both of which are a source of great strength to our organization. Our members range from experts in agronomy, education and international development, as well as local farmers who represent the participatory nature of our projects.


Trinidad Recinos
Trinidad was raised in an agricultural community and has been involved in sustainable development and civil resistance from young age. He worked as a non-profit’s leading technician for rural development six years and was head of Anacafe’s experimental demonstration farm, Buena Vista, for 12 years. Trinidad has always had a strong passion for helping rural communities, and serves as the heart and soul of SN through his ability to put into practice the Farmer-to-Farmer methodology. Trini helped found SN in 2010 and has served as a key leader ever since.
Curt Bowen
Curt grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, recieved his degree in Philosophy, and has led environmental and rural development for over nine years. He is the recipient of the Ignite Good Millennial Impact Challenge, Ashoka Emerging Innovators award, and most recently the Unilever-Cambridge-Ashoka Sustainable Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Curt has worked full-time in Guatemala for nearly five years, founding SN in 2010.

Juan Saldaña
Farmer Representative
Juan Saldaña was a community organizer in the chaotic times of the land reform marches, or caminatas protierras. In charge of the region of Tiquisate, Juan helped organize the 16,000 landless peasants who marched on the Guatemalan capital to ask for land for landless peasants. After receiving land, Juan has led community government and organization efforts for his community, municipality, and represented the farmers of his department in numerous government organizations. Juan has grown corn his whole life, and has collaborated with Semilla Nueva since its inception. We are very proud to have his guidance on our board.
Juan Manuel de Leon Diaz
Farmer Representative
Trained by community leaders in the Land Reform Movement (La Reforma Agraria), Juan Manuel was raised to be a leader. He has lead his community’s government, represented corn farmers of the department of Retalhuleu in various government and nonprofit organizations, and served as the head of an agricultural cooperative. Juan Manuel was also the first farmer we worked with in the department of Retalhuleu in 2010.


John J. McGuire
Board Chair
John has extensive leadership experience in the non-profit world, serving as past President for the Boise Rotary Club, Assistant Governor of Rotary District 5400, and incoming Chair of the Greater Boise Rotary Foundation. For six years, he served as Executive Director for the Center of Creative Justice (CCJ), a non-profit agency in Ames, Iowa, providing adult probation supervision through a dedicated core of volunteer supervisors. He currently serves as Coordinator of the Center for Advising and Student Success at Boise State University. John received a BA in Sociology from Seton Hall University, an MS in Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Ph.D. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University.
Kathleen Simko
Board Vice-Chair
Kathleen has a BS in Business & Economics from Eastern OR University and an MBA from Boise State University as well as 30+ years of executive management experience in health care, higher education and economic development. Some of her current activities include Rotary International, Idaho public transportation, city council member, and the Idaho Bar Association.
Mike Markley
Board Treasurer
Mike has spent several years working in technical communication and professional services leadership. He currently co-owns and serves as Managing Director for Markley, LLC, a fund-development consulting business, and is a Lecturer of Technical Communication at Boise State University. He is also an active volunteer for Rotary International. Mike is grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in advancing the great work of Semilla Nueva as a member of the board, and has visited the projects in Guatemala once.
Darren Yondorf
Board Secretary
Darren joined the Semilla Nueva founding team in 2010. During his time in Guatemala, he worked as a field technician and coordinator of internship programs, and finally as the country director. He continues to work on food systems with Good Eggs in San Francisco.
Ben Simko
Ben has 40 years of experience as an agricultural extension educator and applied agricultural scientist working directly with farmers to test and adopt new technologies. Ben is a strong advocate for development of sustainable agricultural systems and greater public awareness of food security issues.
Michael Sieler
Mike first became aware of Semilla Nueva in November 2011 through his association with Rotary International where he served as president of his local Rotary Club in Idaho. Mike continues to serve as one of the main contacts between SN and Rotary, helping to secure SN’s first significant grant from Rotary in 2012. He worked in various program management positions at Hewlett Packard for 23 years before retiring in late 2013, and has since returned to the working world as the Director of Materials and Strategic Sourcing for Smoke Guard, Inc. Mike has been to Guatemala to visit Semilla Nueva’s projects four times.
John Gulley
John grew up in Emmett Idaho, a largely agricultural community, and spent much of his youth working in the orchards and fields. Through this work, he met many immigrants that made up the labor force and was exposed to the realities many face when coming to the states in search of work. John has visited Guatemala on several occasions and has worked closely with many of our farmers. He now owns a construction company in North Dakota.
Jerry Michael Brady
Jerry Brady is president of The Post Company, a family and employee-owned newspaper company in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Jerry has a strong background in international affairs and development, practicing international trade law in Washington, D.C, serving as assistant to Idaho Senator Frank Church, and holding leadership positions in the Peace Corps for five years. Jerry co-founded ACCION International, a world leader in micro-financing for entrepreneurs in the Third World.
Mike Jones
Mike worked for 38 years administering nonprofit organizations serving troubled youth. From 1981 to 2010, Mike worked for the Idaho Youth Ranch, a large multi-service agency, where he served as their President from 1992 until his retirement. Mike and his wife Annie have a real fondness for Latin America, spending every winter in southern Mexico, not far from Semilla Nueva’s communities. Mike is an active Rotarian and holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.
Ryan Shea
Since 2002, Ryan has worked in a variety of positions during his career in marketing including political organizing, TV production, non-profit digital media. In 2009, Ryan founded Open Hand Media, a creative advertising agency geared toward supporting Non-Profit and Small Businesses with marketing, branding, media production, web design and digital advertising.
Blog Profile Pic Joe Bornstein
Joseph Bornstein
Joseph is a social entrepreneur and philosopher. His most recent venture, Cause Match, is a matching grant-based crowdfunding platform and creative content service provider. In under one year, Cause Match has helped nonprofits fundraise nearly $3M. He is also the co-founder of Semilla Nueva, a sustainable agriculture nonprofit in Guatemala. In college he helped found a student activism organization that launched programs in Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, and India. Joseph is a congressionally appointed Harry S. Truman Scholar and Thomas J. Watson Fellow. He has served as a consultant to organizations such World Resources Institute, Gota Verde, Jerusalem U, and the Dutch nonprofit Social Trade Organization. He has also written professionally for development and Jewish blogs such as,, and
Ron Van Aucker
Ron Van Auker, Jr.
Ron is an Idaho native, who grew up in Meridian and attended Meridian High School. He earned a BA in Business with an emphasis in Finance at the University of Oregon in 2005. After college he joined the family business, Van Auker Companies, in Meridian, which is a construction and real estate development company that his father founded in Caldwell in the 1960s. Ron has held many positions at the company, and is currently responsible for the day-to-day management of the business. Ron serves as a member of the Boise State University College of Business of Economics Advisory Council.
Michael Summers
Michael has a wide breadth of experience facilitating, leading, and executing demanding technical projects, holding a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University. Michael first learned of Semilla Nueva in 2013 during a 30 day trip to Guatemala. During his time with Semilla Nueva he participated in the testing and redesign of human-powered sesame and corn planters for the no-till soil program. Joining the board in December 2015, Michael is excited to help guide the future growth and positive impact of Semilla Nueva.
John Lodal Headshot
John Lodal
John Lodal is a retired development engineer from Hewlett Packard and new to Semilla Nueva’s board in 2016. He retired in 2012 after 32 years of process and product development for HP in disc drives, inkjet supplies, and LaserJet printers. He holds 3 US patents. John is currently a member of Boise Sunrise Rotary Club and is the Inbound Coordinator (think foreign teenagers coming to the USA) for Rotary’s District 5400 Youth Exchange program. He is a musician who plays trombone in the Boise Straight Ahead Jazz Big Band. John enjoys gardening, hitting the gym, skiing, camping and goofing around with his two granddaughters. He also greatly enjoys travelling the world with his wife Pam. One of those trips was to SN in Guatemala in November 2015. Pam and John are both grateful cancer survivors and seek to fully enjoy and utilize every day of this life. He is excited about the invitation to be on Semilla Nueva’s board and looks forward to the collaboration and the creative development work to come while we are seeking to enable SN to realize its vision to the farmers and the children of Guatemala. Carpe Diem!


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