Cortney Ahern

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Master of Environmental Management, 2019

Cortney is a Master of Environmental Management candidate focusing on food system innovation and regenerative agriculture. At CBEY, she co-leads the Corporate Water Risk Workshop and the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, and is an advisor to the Climate Change Entrepreneurship and Innovation team.

Cortney spent her last summer working with the Impact Strategy team at Sir Kensington's, a food innovation company, to build the company's social and environmental impact strategy through projects like values-led sourcing, internal sustainability education, B Corp Assessment, and carbon-offset research.

Prior to Yale, Cortney built her career working across the food chain and across sectors. At Feeding America, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Slow Food, and as an independent researcher and consultant for many nonprofits, think tanks, and start-ups, she tackled complex issues including food insecurity, climate change, food system biodiversity, and international agricultural development.

Cortney is a proud Midwesterner from Minnesota and Chicago. She graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University, where she earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Authored Articles
Is this the way to crop reform?

(Photo courtesy of .) Farmers can deliver steeper returns to themselves, their ecosystem, and their economy when their insurance system makes more sense. 

The Case for Crop Insurance Reform

Across the political spectrum, most Americans have favorable opinions of farmers and are happy with the idea that the federal government provides financial assistance to help pay for crop insurance. If they knew crop insurance's full cost, that might change. This system, while well-intentioned, leaves out the majority of farmers and encourages the degradation of precious soil and water reserves by rewarding consolidated monoculture crop production. The crop insurance system keeps large-scale commodity farmers reliant on government payments rather than helping them build more innovative and resilient business models that could generate positive regenerative impacts, improve farm resilience to extreme...
Regenerative agriculture begins here

How deeply can regenerative farming affect the way societies value farming- and farmers build value? (Photo courtesy of Lukas via Pexels.) 

The State of Regenerative Agriculture: Growing With Room to Grow More

This article, by The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (RAI) team at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), is the first in a series on key opportunities to accelerate regenerative agriculture in the United States. Ordinary agricultural production aggravates greenhouse gas emissions as well as soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. At today’s rate of soil degradation, some scientists predict the world’s topsoil could be destroyed within 60 years. Regenerative agriculture can reverse that. The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (RAI) conducted a landscape analysis of ongoing efforts to accelerate regenerative markets in the United States.