Denise O'Brien


"Denise O'Brien has emphasized her Iowa roots as a woman farmer for 21 years, the commonalities she shares with women around the globe, and the need to develop a close relationship with our planet Earth." - Dorothy M. Paul, 1998

Denise O'Brien is a self-employed farmer from Atlantic who uses organic practices. She founded and is coordinator for Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of farm and rural women whose mission statement is "to link and amplify women's voices on issues of food systems, sustainable communities and environmental integrity." Through her work as a past president of the National Family Farm Coalition, she lifted the concerns of farm families and rural communities on international, national, state, regional, and local slevels. In 1997, she spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the world's farmers. Her efforts have aided the establishment of many organizations, including Rural Advocacy 2000, Iowa Fair Trade Watch, the Women's Task Force of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, and Progressive Prairie Alliance. She served on the Governor's Farm Emergency Task Force for the past year. O'Brien continues to serve on the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Local Food Task Force. An extensive lecturer, O'Brien has shared her expertise in rural development and farming with thousands throughout the United States and world. She and her family have been regular hosts to international delegations. She was the 1997 recipient of the "Gloria Steinem Award" and the Iowa Farmers Union "Young Leadership Award" in 1990. O'Brien was born in 1949. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.