David LeZaks

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  • David LeZaks

    Senior Fellow

    David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems.

    Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. Previously, he served as an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute fellow. Earlier in his career, David was a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he completed his Ph.D. in Environment and Resources and an M.S. in Land Resources. Afterward, he served as Managing Scientist of the Knowledge Systems for Sustainability Consortium and Program Director of the university’s Agricultural Innovation Prize. Currently, he serves in advisory roles to Mad Agriculture, the Savanna Institute, Nourishn, Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and the Transformational Investing in Food Systems initiative, an allied initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

    He is based in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is active in a number of community organizations and spends his spare time gardening and participating in a variety of silent sports. 


    Ph.D., Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    M.S., Land Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    B.S., Environmental Science, Michigan State University


    "Transformative Investment in Climate-Smart Agriculture: Unlocking the Potential of our Soils to Help the U.S. Achieve a Net-Zero Economy," U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA), The Mixing Bowl, Croatan Institute, and World Buisiness Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), February 2021 (with David Bennell, et al). 

    "Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends 2020." Washington, DC: US SIF Foundation, November 2020 (with Joshua Humphreys et al).

    "Regenerative Agriculture and COVID-19 Capital Needs: Assessing needs in the regenerative meat and grain sectors to direct capital flows," Croatan Institute, August 2020 (with Susan Paykin and Jaime Silverstein)

    "Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture across Asset Classes," Croatan Institute, Delta Institute, and OARS, 2019. (with Christi Electris, Josh Humphreys, Kristin Lang, and Jaime Silverstein).

    "Food System Shock: The insurance impacts of acute disruption to global food supply." Lloyd's of London, June 16, 2015.

    "Beyond climate-smart agriculture: toward safe operating spaces for global
    food systems.
    Agriculture & Food Security, 2013. (with Neufeldt, H., Jahn, M., Campbell, B.M. et al.

    "Solutions for a cultivated planet." Nature 478, 337-342, 2011. (with Foley, J., Ramankutty, N., Brauman, K. et al.)

    "Data and monitoring needs for a more ecological agriculture." Environmental Research Letters 6 014017, 2011. (With Christopher J. Kucharik).

    "Producer and consumer responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions from
    agricultural production – A perspective from the Brazilian Amazon
    ." Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2009.

    "Preparing for the future: Teaching scenario planning at the graduate level." Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, 2009.

    "Investing in Agriculture: Far-Reaching Challenge, Significant Opportunity - An Asset Management Perspective." Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors, 2009. (with Bruce M. Kahn)

    "From Miami to Madison: Investigating the relationship between climate and
    terrestrial net primary production." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2007.

    "Our share of the planetary pie." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2007.