Dr. Lisa Benson is an Alaskan native who grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. She joined NASDA in December 2017 to lead the NASDA Foundation. Previously, Lisa worked for the American Farm Bureau Federation as the director of the Rural Development program. She led the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, a national business competition that provided rural agriculture and food entrepreneurs with $145,000 in startup funds. She also led the Agriculture Investment Summit which connected ag entrepreneurs with venture capital funds and accelerator programs. Benson earned a PhD in agricultural and Extension education from Virginia Tech, and worked for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida for 9 years.