Bruce Knight is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture and the environment. With a long track record of bringing strategic workable solutions to complex and controversial issues, he understands the workings of farm and conservation policy from the grassroots to the national level. Coupled with his national policymaking experience is a pragmatic approach to issues harvested from his personal farming enterprise.
Today, as a consultant focused on conservation and environmental issues related to agriculture, Knight provides a visionary and unique perspective on the future of conservation policies. He understands the potential value to his clients in agriculture, environment, wildlife and food systems of cutting-edge ideas and strategies such as carbon markets and other ecosystem services. Drawing on his experience as a former association executive, lobbyist, regulator and Capitol Hill staffer, Knight has a broad understanding of how Washington works. But he also brings firsthand knowledge of farming to his national policymaking credentials. Knight was the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 2006-2009. In this post, he provided leadership and oversight for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. These agencies protect animals and plants and promote fair, open and orderly markets for U.S. agricultural products. Safeguarding America’s flocks, fields and forests from pests and diseases is worth billions of dollars in losses avoided by farmers and ranchers.
From 2002 to 2006, Knight served as Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service, the lead USDA agency for conservation on private working agricultural lands. During the nearly five years under his leadership, the agency assisted 1 million farmers and ranchers in applying conservation on more than 130 million acres of working farm and ranchlands. Knight provided the strategic vision for the development, implementation and management of the largest expansion of working lands conservation programs in the agency’s history.
Knight also has many years experience in developing U.S. agricultural policies and programs as a congressional staff member and on behalf of major agricultural producer groups. He served on the staff of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, Kansas, focusing on development of the conservation title of the 1996 farm bill and was a legislative assistant to Rep. Fred Grandy, Iowa, and Sen. James Abdnor, South Dakota. In addition, Knight served as vice president for public policy for the National Corn Growers Association and also worked for the National Association of Wheat Growers.
A third-generation rancher and farmer and lifelong conservationist, Knight operates a diversified grain and cattle operation using no-till and rest rotation grazing systems. His farming and ranching background gives him the opportunity to practice stewardship and husbandry, providing firsthand knowledge of the interdependency of animal, plant and human health with the environment. Knight attended South Dakota University. He is married and has two children. He is a member of the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia and is an avid sportsman.
Julie Knight has logged over 20 years of experience in public and nonprofit sector community development work before co-founding SCS in 2009 with her husband, Bruce. She works on the intersection of agricultural and food policy as it relates to issues of concern for food security, sustainability and health. As Chief Operating Officer in a small company, Knight handles all financial, operational and administrative functions for the firm but also is involved in supporting client projects as needed, including meeting facilitation and strategic planning.
Prior to her work with SCS, she worked for Northern Virginia Family Service in grants development and as the first director and co-founder of the nonprofit Fairfax Partnership for Youth following work with the Cooperative Extension Service for the first decade of her career. Knight’s leadership and expertise in coalition building and community partnerships has been instrumental in helping communities effectively address complex, cross-cutting issues of concern and transfers to her current work with clients and diverse stakeholders across the supply chain in seeking common goals for sustainability.
In her local community, Knight served as the first Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax and provided leadership in launching the Fairfax Food Council to explore and address issues related to improving access to nutritious food for all in the community. She has served as a member of the City of Fairfax School Board from 2004 – 2010 and as an Elder from 2010 – 2012 at Vienna Presbyterian Church where she is currently a Deacon.
Knight received her B.S. and M.S. from Texas Tech University and received a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Ag and Food Systems from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition in August 2015.
Timothy Schoonhoven joined the Strategic Conservation Solutions (SCS) team in November 2015 as Policy Analyst. A native of California’s Central Valley, Timothy graduated from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California in May of 2015 with a B.A. in Political Studies. He got his first taste of DC as an intern for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs during the 2013 government shutdown, returning the following the summer to intern for the legislative advocacy department of the American Foreign Service Association while working as a virtual research assistant for one of his professors. After working on a congressional campaign and finishing school, he made the move back to DC to intern for the Council of Insurance Agents, an insurance trade association, before joining SCS full time. Timothy comes from a highly diversified agricultural region with relatives owning and operating an almond ranch. He was very involved in 4-H growing up, raising pigs and participating in numerous civics and service projects. On the side Timothy enjoys trying as many different kinds of food as possible, playing and following sports, reading, hiking and keeping up with international affairs.
Gregory Pilchak joined the SCS team as a Policy Analyst in April 2017. Born and raised in Michigan, he graduated from Michigan State University in August 2016, earning degrees in Political Theory and Russian, and specializing in Science and Environmental Policy. Gregory came to DC through MSU’s Demmer Scholar Program to work as an intern with the National Association of State Foresters. Prior to that, he interned at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. Outside of work, Gregory likes to read, run, and study foreign language.