Leon Atwell professional headshot
Co-Founder and Principal 
In order to advance our rural prosperity we must advance our collective community, food, soil and human health.  For rural communities Leon believes these seemingly divergent areas are largely intertwined.  He aspires to leave a legacy of healthier communities for the next generation so for over 3 decades, Leon has organized and led initiatives to build thriving and sustainable rural communities. He helps business, community leaders and governing boards strengthen their capacity to lead while coaching leaders of all types through complex issues.  Bringing leadership and organizational improvements to for-profit, non-profit, healthcare and regional development entities, he has guided efforts to combat rural community decline. He is a skilled, senior level facilitator and seasoned leadership coach and has undergraduate technical and graduate level educational degrees.  Also a fourth generation ag producer, Leon operates a family farm with his wife of 20 years and teenage son while keeping faith, family and farm a priority.


Jack Newcomb professional headshot

Jack Newcomb
Co-Founder and Principal 
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.