LeLeon Atwell professional headshoton Atwell
Co-Founder and Principal / Business and Community Leadership Coach
Leon Atwell serves as the lead project organizer for all food system development projects. Leon brings an energizing passion for rural communities while bringing a producer’s perspective to food system development. As co-founder of Advancing Rural Prosperity, he has teamed up with Chris Sramek to help food producers grow and expand; develop and expand aggregation and distribution networks and to establish and grow markets. We believe that by strengthening communities of food producers, aggregators, processors and distributors, a more robust local food system can be built. Our producer based, community oriented approach creates diverse economic opportunities for rural communities across the Great Plains. Leon recently co-led the expansion planning efforts for High Plains Food Co-op (HPFC), is helping HPFC implement that expansion plan and expand HPFC production. Over the last 12 years Leon has also organized and led initiatives focused on building thriving and sustainable rural communities. He is a skilled, senior level facilitator and a seasoned leadership coach, comes from a 4 generation farm family and helps operate a family farm in Northwest Kansas.


Jack Newcomb professional headshot

Jack Newcomb
Co-Founder and Principal / Business and Community Leadership Coach
Jack Newcomb possesses the attributes of all entrepreneurs, the willingness to relentlessly pursue his passion. After a long career in business, he has committed himself to improving the economic plight of rural Kansas. He has assisted over 600 entrepreneurs, and has helped to make a difference in one of the poorest areas in Kansas. Jack resides on a ranch in SE Kansas where he raises cattle, provides agri-tourism opportunities, and invests in local business.



Chris Sramek
Food Systems Specialist

Chris Sramek was raised on the 125+ year old Sramek Family Farm homesteaded in 1888 in far northwest Rawlins County Kansas. The Sramek Family Farm is a charter member of the High Plains Food Co-op and Chris currently is working on expanding production with other growth oriented member farmers and does strategic planning for the co-op.  Chris is a consulting Ag Meteorologist with Decision Weather, community food systems developer with Advancing Rural Prosperity and 5th generation farmer working to convert two 20 acre vacant homesteads into free range poultry farms to allow multiple siblings to return to farming. With his lead, sustainable farming has played a role in reversing population decline in Rawlins County population 2,579, which has been occurring since the 1930’s. Sustainable farming is creating diversity and new economic opportunities for young farmers to return to both urban and rural food desert communities.


Jennifer Simmelink
Project Evaluation Specialist
Jennifer serves as the lead in project evaluation for ARPI. Her concentrated focus provides a detailed evaluation component to ensure projects achieve their expected outcomes. She brings a technical background and keen eye for detail. Providing access to healthy living for rural communities is a passion of Jennifer’s. She serves as the Jewell County representative on the North Central Kansas Food Council and is the founder and director of the Rural Route 13.1, a running and biking event held in Esbon, Kansas. She and her husband are raising their three children on their farm and ranch in rural Jewell County.



Advancing Rural Prosperity provides planning, development and implementation
to help businesses and communities grow and prosper.

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