The Rodale Institute has announced the
appointment of Timothy J. LaSalle as chief executive officer.
Previously, LaSalle served as executive director of the Northwest
Earth Institute in Portland, Oregon.
“Timothy LaSalle has dedicated much of his career to
educating people about organic health and global environmental
solutions. I am delighted he will lead the Institute into
a phase of new growth,” said Ardath Rodale, co-chair
of The Rodale Institute.
“The Rodale Institute has good work to do in explaining
how building soil health on America’s farms can lead
to greater profitability,” LaSalle said. “Organic
crop management can help farmers be part of the answer to
global warming by sequestering carbon. This will greatly decrease
farming’s ecological footprint as well as reduce overall
For 12 years he was a full professor at California Polytechnic
State University (Cal Poly), where he taught dairy science
classes. He also served as the president and CEO of California’s
Agriculture Education Foundation. More recently, the new Institute
leader served in an executive capacity with various nonprofit
organizations, including the Environmental Center of San Luis
Obispo County and the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management.
LaSalle has completed a Ph.D. in depth psychology at Pacifica
Graduate Institute. He holds a M.S. in Populations Genetics
from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and
a B.S. in Science from Cal Poly. He has served on many nonprofit
boards and committees.
“We aim for The Rodale Institute to be at the forefront
of scientific research on organic farming and its effects
on human and environmental health, and through those efforts
to build a diverse and thriving community more passionate
about organic,” said LaSalle. “I look forward
to building upon the firm foundation established by J.I. Rodale
and the Rodale family.”
A current supporter of organic dairying and farming, LaSalle
started and operated a conventional dairy for six years near
Templeton, California, while he was teaching dairy science
at Cal Poly. He opposed the use of synthetic BST hormone injections
from the start of the practice, initially because it created
more milk when milk was already in surplus. Its use has proven
to be hard on cows and not beneficial, overall, for farmers.
LaSalle’s doctoral work in depth psychology focused
on the reasons why human economic and cultural systems—including
non-organic agriculture—are so resistant to change.
“Only about 20 percent of us are confident enough
in ourselves to ‘risk’ our established identities
on making a significant change, even when we know it is the
right thing to do,” he said. “At Rodale, we can
create incentives and build confidence in new opportunities
through our outreach to increase the active support for new
food and farming systems.“
LaSalle will succeed John Haberern, the first president
of the Institute, who retired in June, 2006, after 46 years
of leadership. The Institute was led by interim president
Rosalba Messina while the search for the new CEO was conducted.
The Rodale Institute is a non-profit organization that has
been pioneering the health and environmental benefits of organic
food and farming since 1947. It was the brainchild of J.I.
Rodale, who moved to rural Pennsylvania in the late 1930s
to explore his keen personal interest in farming. Chronic
food shortages following World War II prompted many farmers
to increase yields by using nitrogenous fertilizers and pesticides
derived from the munitions industry.
Concerned about the health effects of using these chemicals
to grow food, Rodale was inspired to develop organic methods
and prove—scientifically and practically at the farmer
level—that they worked.
Sixty years later, The Rodale Institute is home to the country’s
longest-running scientific study comparing chemical farming
with organic. Institute research has shown again and again
that organic agriculture is not only more productive and profitable
for farmers, it is also significantly better for the health
of the soil and all the environment.