Julie Rubsam–Executive Director
Julie grew up in Southern Indiana on the north side of Evansville. Her love of the outdoors began at an early age and was fostered by many family excursions hiking and camping at Indiana State Parks.
Her interest in studying plant genetics lead her to apply to Purdue University. Julie was accepted and began her studies in the Botany & Plant Pathology Department in the mid-90s. During this time, Julie worked in the Botany & Plant Pathology Greenhouse where she helped grow and care for plants used for the department’s classes. Her work in the greenhouse lead to a change in educational focus and she transferred into the Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture and the Department of Forestry & Natural Resources where her studies merged to fulfill her desire to study the design of habitats.
After graduating from Purdue University, Julie worked for the Indiana Arborist Association. She served as their business manager for almost 10 years and helped plan and implement educational programming events for urban foresters.
In 2008, Julie and her husband, Jason, co-founded Lafayette PC, a computer consulting company in downtown Lafayette, IN. While Jason focused on IT services, his area of expertise, Julie stepped into the role of CEO where she was responsible for business development, sales, efficient operations, marketing strategies, and all other obligations that come with owning a small business. In just a few short years, Lafayette PC won several community awards including Small Business of the Month, Small Business of the Year, and received the Journal & Courier’s Reader’s Choice Award. During this time, Julie personally received the Top 10 Under 40 Award and was named Central Indiana’s BNI (Business Networking International) Member of the Year. She is a founding member of the BNI Flashpoint Chapter and Lafayettech, the precursor to Lafayette’s co-working studio, MatchBox, and has served as a mentor for the student entrepreneurship program at Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College.
As a business owner who was interested in better supporting the community, Julie became interested in Social Entrepreneurship and over a 2-year period, completed Philanthropy University, a series of online classes through Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley. While working through these classes, Julie collaborated with individuals from all over the world on projects to tackle social issues affecting communities.
After selling Lafayette PC in 2014, Julie used her business and development skills as Resource Development Associate at United Way of Greater Lafayette. In 2016, she was hired as NICHES Land Trust’s first Development Director. Soon after, she was transitioned into the role of Deputy Director where her business acumen, development skills, and conservation knowledge has allowed NICHES Land Trust to grow substantially in their capacity to meet their local conservation needs.
“I am honored to be stepping into the role of Executive Director for HeadWaters Land Conservancy and to be working alongside all of you to preserve Michigan’s special natural areas. There is something truly extraordinary about conservation work. The commitment we make to protect and care for these spaces is forever and, in that moment, we connect the past, present, and future. What an awesome responsibility!”
Libby Benjamin– Director of Conservation
Libby has been with HeadWaters Land Conservancy since serving as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member in 2014. She holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University. Libby works with northeast Michigan landowners who want to protect their property’s natural resources by donating land or a conservation easement. She manages HWLC’s conservation easement stewardship program, and if you’ve attended any HWLC’s hikes or events in the last few years, you’ve probably met Libby. Her favorite part about her job is working with (and learning from!) HWLC’s awesome volunteers, and hearing landowners’ stories about their land. Libby enjoys hiking with her dogs, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, reading, being on the water, and spending time on Mackinac Island with family and friends.
Dianne Farner– Community Engagement and Development Coordinator
Dianne joined HeadWaters staff in August of 2020 after serving as an Account Development Manager for Griffin Beverage. She earned her B.A. in History of Art and Visual Culture from Michigan State University and a M.B.A. from Spring Arbor University.
Dianne is very excited to be at HWLC to help preserve and protect the land and water of northeast Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys wild mushroom foraging, hiking, kayaking and basically anything outdoors year round! Dianne lives in Gaylord with her husband Zach, their daughter Gwyn and two wild cattle dogs Penny and Ophelia.
Rhiannon Erhardt– Stewardship Technician