Meet the Teaching Team

The Rural Grocery Transition Specialist program is supervised by two program facilitators. They will help guide you through the course, grade homework and discussion prompts and provide resources throughout the course.

This course is taught by an experienced team of content creators with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. If you want to contact one of these individuals directly, reach out to the program facilitator for more information.

Program Facilitators

Rial Carver headshot

Rial Carver

Program Leader, Rural Grocery Initiative

Hannah Jenkins headshot

Hannah Jenkins

Program Administrator, Rural Grocery Initiative


Course Instructors

Erica Blair headshot

Erica Blair

Program Manager, Rural Grocery Initiative,

Erica Blair is an Extension Specialist with K-State Research and Extension and a Program Manager for both the Rural Grocery Initiative and Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. In this role, she supports healthy food retail across the state and nation by providing technical assistance on a range of topics, including grocery ownership models, financial resources, and e-commerce, among others. Erica earned her B.F.A. in Intermedia and Certificate in Sustainability from the University of Iowa, and her M.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan. Her previous experience includes conducting research on cover crop adoption in the Midwest, working on a diverse vegetable farm, and organizing campaigns with local communities to support sustainable agriculture.

Rial Carver headshot

Rial Carver

Program Leader, Rural Grocery Initiative,

Rial Carver is a Rural Grocery Extension Specialist with K-State Research and Extension. Rial earned her Master of Regional and Community Planning from Kansas State University in 2019. Prior to moving to Kansas, Rial worked as the Sustainability Coordinator at Virginia Tech Dining Services where she increased local food sourcing, implemented composting initiatives, and initiated a reusable to-go container program. She received a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning with a minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems from Virginia Tech. Rial and her husband enjoy exploring the great outdoors with their pup, Cora, and gardening at the Manhattan Community Gardens. Rial has worked with the RGI team in various capacities since 2017.

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Rick Feltenberger

Founder & Managing Director, ForwardFocus,

Rick Feltenberger is the Founder and Managing Director of ForwardFocus, an exit planning and business advisory firm that helps owners across the nation start, grow, and flourish so that they may have a business transition by design and not by default. Mr. Feltenberger is the former Director of the Kansas Small Business Development Center at Fort Hays State University. Prior to this, he started and successfully exited 4 small businesses, worked as a senior executive at several Fortune 500 companies, and worked in the Mergers & Acquisition industry as a consultant. Headquartered in Florida, he can be reached for presentations, keynote addresses, questions, and consulting engagements anywhere in the United States.

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Will Katz

Certified Valuation Analyst, Blue Owl Valuation,

Will Katz has been a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, since 1986. He came to Lawrence as an undergraduate at KU where he studied philosophy and Russian. He received his B.A. in 1993, and earned his KU MBA in 2001, and completed his CVA in 2014. Will is passionate about working with small businesses to help them succeed in our community and surrounding communities and brought his eagerness to promote entrepreneurship to his former role as director of the KU Small Business Development Center. Will runs Blue Owl Valuation. He also teaches the capstone course in the full-time MBA program at KU and serves in a consulting basis for clients through the KU SBDC as needed.

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Deborah Kohl

Program Leader Coordinator, Kansas State Research & Extension,

Deborah Kohl currently serves as a state specialist for community vitality and Program Leader Coordinator with K-State Research and Extension. Her primary role on the CV team is to shepherd the KSRE Facilitation Initiative, to which she brings two decades of facilitation, business development, team building, marketing, and project management experience. Early in her career, Deborah led a team in the development of a comprehensive customer service model, still in use today. Framed as community service standards and patterned off of the Walt Disney approach to customer service, this model set the stage for all of her work in customer service and satisfaction. Attention to detail, moving barriers, and enabling the success of others are hallmarks of her work. Deborah earned a Bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University, a Master’s degree from Kansas State, and a graduate certificate in Project Management from the University of Kansas (her COVID gift to herself). In their free time, Deborah and her husband, Ben follow the adventures and exploits of four children aged 22, 19, 18, and 14. If you have ideas for or lessons learned in building relationships with adultish children she would love to hear them.

Jamie Menon headshot

Jaime Menon

State Program Leader, Community Vitality - Kansas State Research & Extension,

Jaime Menon has been with K-State Research and Extension for over 16 years. Jaime wears many hats which include State Program Leader for Community Vitality for K-State Research and Extension, Community Vitality Specialist and Co-Coordinator of the Kansas PRIDE Program. Jaime has spent time working in many vocations which include real estate appraisal research, food service, accounting and volunteering. Originally from Ohio, she has had the opportunity to live in many states, including Oklahoma, South Carolina and now Kansas, and out of all of them she enjoys Kansas the most. Currently residing in Manhattan, Jaime serves the state of Kansas.

Don Moffit headshot

Don Moffitt

Consultant, Columinate,

Don Moffitt works with Columinate providing support for independent businesses planning large capital investments. His services include pro forma financials and financial literacy, expansion and business planning, assistance with lease negotiations and general development assistance. He’s worked in natural foods retail since 1981, including Vice President of Store Development and Regional President for Whole Foods Market as well as Project Manager for the Durham Co-op Market in Durham, NC. He has a B.S. in Architecture (University of Texas, Austin) and an MBA (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Jenny Osner headshot

Jenny Osner

President, Hired Man’s Grocery and Grill, Inc.,

Jenny Osner has her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and was a certified teacher for eighteen years in Conway Springs, KS. In July of 2008 she and her husband opened their grocery store they built from the ground up naming it Hired Man's Grocery and Grill, Inc. where she serves as president. The store has been part of Kansas State University Center for Engagement and Community Development's Rural Case Study and Healthy Eating Grant, State of Kansas Supporting Local Food Systems Grant, and USDA REAP grant. Jenny has been awarded Kansas State University Rural Grocery Initiative Leadership Excellence Award and Associated Wholesale Grocer's OKC Store Manager of the Year. Hired Man's received Affiliated Foods Midwest Pinnacle Achievement Award, Friends of 4-H Award, and Kansas Department of Commerce Retail/Service Award. Jenny currently serves on the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative's Executive Board and the National Grocers Association Government Relations Committee. She resides in her hometown of Conway Springs, KS, with her husband, Clint, and they have three children: Karlee, Colby, and Haylee. They are proud to live in rural America and take pride in serving their community each day.

Sean Park headshot

Sean Park

Program Manager, Value-Added Sustainable Development Center,

Sean Park is Program Manager of the Value-added Sustainable Development Center at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA), where he provides technical assistance and training on business plan development and business start-up to cooperatives and other rural businesses in all sectors, and administers IIRA’s overall outreach in the co-op sector. Sean has worked with IIRA since 2010, and his experience also includes ten years as owner-operator of an independent rural grocery store, seven years in operations management for a national corporation, and additional roles as a community college business instructor and a small town economic development director. Park is a Certified Business Advisor and has completed CooperationWorks! Cooperative Business Development Training Program. He received an MA in economics from WIU and a BA in economics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is a current Doctoral candidate at University of Illinois.

Marci Penner headshot

Marci Penner

Co-director, Kansas Sampler Foundation,

Marci Penner is a big fan of exploring Kansas, promoting (and living) rural culture, and reframing the challenges of sustaining community into opportunities. When she and her father, Milferd Penner, researched their first Kansas guidebooks in the early 1990s, they saw a need to educate Kansans and network and support rural communities. They formed the public, non-profit Kansas Sampler Foundation in 1993 to meet those goals. Marci has served as executive director since the formation of the 501(c)(3). She has a unique perspective of Kansas having been to every one of the 627 incorporated cities several times for guidebook research. She’s happy to be home on the family farm near Inman where the offices of the Kansas Sampler Foundation are located. Marci is dedicated to helping Kansans see Kansas with new eyes and to keeping our communities alive and thriving.

Dave Procter headshot

David Procter

Founding Director, Rural Grocery Initiative,

In 2007, Dr. Procter, along with Kansas State Research and Extension staff, grocery owners and stakeholders launched the Rural Grocery Initiative to identify challenges faced by rural grocery stores and develop evidence-based responses to those challenges. Dr. Procter published work from this initiative in numerous book chapters and journal articles and presented his work at national and international conferences and to the hunger caucuses of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Dr. Procter currently serves as a member of the Riley County / City of Manhattan Food and Farm Council and a member of the Kansas Sampler Foundation Board of Directors. Dr. Procter has his Ph.D. from University of Nebraska.

Stuart Reid headshot

Stuart Reid

Consultant, The Co-op Consultant,

If you are paying for advice, you probably want someone who knows what they are doing. Stuart has worked in and supported independent grocery stores and food co-ops for most of his 45-year career. He has managed deli departments, produce, specialty cheese and swept floors. As manager of both startups and mature grocery stores, Stuart has led every one of them through growth and expansion. He has been a purchasing manager for food distributors, and provided technical assistance to hundreds of startup and operational grocery stores. Whether you need help with feasibility, marketing, or leadership and governance, Stuart can provide personal support based on deep experience.

Jan Steen headshot

Jan Steen

Community Vitality Specialist, Kansas State Research & Extension,

Jan Steen has been with K-State Research and Extension since 2012 with a focus on community development programming at the county, state, and national level. Jan’s current role is that of Community Vitality Specialist where he co-coordinates the volunteer-based Kansas Community Empowerment program, identifies project funding sources for communities and organizations, and facilitates community assessments. He is the author of the state’s Community Capitals Framework action plan for extension programming and has served the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals as a regional representative and communications leader. Jan holds a master’s degree in Community Development from Kansas State University and a bachelor’s degree in Business from Southwestern College.

Les Streit headshot

Les Streit

Consultant, StreitLine Consulting,

Dr. Les D. Streit (PhD Kansas State) has been working with small business startups and NE Kansas entrepreneurs with the Washburn Small Business Center (SBDC) since the late 1990’s. He served as the Regional Director from 1999 – 2005 and now as an independent consultant. Prior to working at Washburn, Les owned and operated several small businesses. His first venture was StreitLine Publishing & Consulting which developed training programs and manuals for corporations such as Mercedes Benz Trucks, Farmers Home Administration and PayLess Shoe Corporation. These publishing projects lead to business starts in laser printer services and cartridge recycling – StreitLine Recharging and Great Plains Cartridge Recycling. Both companies were later sold. Streit has also been involve in farm ownership/management and textbook publishing. Streit began his career by teaching agricultural entrepreneurship at Russell High School and was a college professor at Kansas State and Oregon State Universities. He relocated to Topeka in 1986 to work at Payless ShoeSource. His hometown is Downs, KS and grew up on a family farm.

Jason Tuller headshot

Jason Tuller

Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska,

Jason Tuller has nearly 15 years of experience in Economic Development. He is an Extension Educator in Rural Prosperity Nebraska and has a 10 county region. His areas of focus are Economic Development and People Attraction. He has worked as a Small Business Consultant as well as a local Economic Development Director. During his time as a small business consultant he covered and 18 county area in Western Nebraska. He helped clients in all stages of business from start-up to transition. He worked directly with over 750 clients. These interactions led to 66 new business startups, over 200 new business plans, and created or saved over 375 jobs over his seven years as a small business consultant. More than $35 million dollars of investment were used in new businesses and expansions. As an economic development director Jason managed a 75-acre mixed use development park. There were twenty homes built in the development park as well as four commercial buildings built, which totaled over $10 million dollars invested in the community of Imperial, NE.

Jeanie Wells headshot

Jeanie Wells

Consultant, Columinate,

Jeanie served as general manager and CEO at The Merc Co-op in Lawrence, Kansas for more than 10 years, overseeing many expansions and leading a decade of exponential growth before leaving to become a national organizational development consultant in 2009. As a consultant at Columinate, Jeanie has supported more than 125 organizations across the US and Canada over the past decade. Because of her background, she provides a breadth of support and guidance, including: 1) Operational and financial improvement and planning; 2) Organizational capacity and culture; 3) Executive leadership development and coaching; 4) Store conditioning and improved shopping environments; 5) Merchandising and layout planning; 6) Management team training and development; and 7) Board and GM relationship support. In addition to her work as a consultant, she leads the GM Development Program team and other project leadership roles within Columinate. Jeanie is a trusted adviser and collaborator to national industry leaders, including the National Co-op Grocers, Independent Natural Foods Retailers, mentors small grocers through Rural Grocery Initiative and serves on the board of Food Co-op Initiative, a national non-profit dedicated to the support of start-up cooperatively owned grocery stores. In 2022, she founded the new grocery store leadership program, Mighty Community Markets, designed to teach critical skills to managing locally controlled independent grocery stores of all kinds, locations and sizes.

Carly Whorton headshot

Carly Whorton

Project Consultant, Rural Grocery Initiative,

Carly Whorton is a part-time Project Consultant with the Rural Grocery Initiative. Carly earned her Master of Agribusiness from Kansas State University in 2011. Prior to that, she earned a Bachelor's in Agricultural Economics, also from KSU, in 2009. After school, Carly spent 5.5 years in Dallas, Texas, working for a software company where she earned her certification as a Project Management Professional. In 2017, she joined forces with her cousin and opened Cecil K's Hometown Market in Holton, Kansas, in February 2018. Carly has served in a grocery consulting capacity since 2021 and opened their 2nd store, Westmoreland Hometown Market, in December 2022. Carly enjoys discovering new ways to combine her passions for communications, education, and nourishing those around her. Carly joined the RGI team in 2022 to lead our Rural Grocery Specialist project.

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Jimmy Wright

President, Wright Food Solutions,

Jimmy Wright is a lifelong Independent Grocer. He is the owner of Wright's Market, a traditional neighborhood food store in Opelika, Alabama along with Wright2U, an e-commerce fresh food delivery company. Wright's Market was the first Independent Grocer in America to offer the ability to use SNAP benefits to shop online. Wright's Market also offers its SNAP customers incentives on fresh produce purchases as part of the USDA GUSNIP program. Jimmy has testified before both the U.S House and Senate Agriculture committees on the importance of the SNAP program in our country, as well as the House Small Business Committee on the Supply Chain Issues during COVID. In January 2020 Wright formed Wright Food Solutions to provide consulting services to retailers. wholesalers, non-profits and community development groups in the areas of food access, food security and food affordability with a focus urban inner city and rural America.