About Communicating for America

Communicating for America, a national non-profit organization, adheres to a simple, commonsense idea: rural people should enjoy all the benefits and representation that their urban counterparts do. That is why, year after year, our highest priorities are the issues facing our members and their families.

Our mission is to:

  • Promote health, well-being and the advancement of all self-employed Americans and small business owners by utilizing our acquired experience in serving rural Americans

  • Give members the right and opportunity to set policies and goals

  • Deliver valued member benefits at the best price and of the highest quality

Members to date

Over 49,400 members as of 2024.

Our member adopted resolutions

For more than four decades, Communicating for America has fought for these resolutions. They are the pillars of what CA stands for, the issues around which CA members unite to create thunder and meaningful change.

Regardless of whether you are a producer, processor, wholesaler, retailer or most importantly, a consumer, your daily life is affected by American agriculture from the food you eat, to the clothes you wear, to the quality of life you live. CA will continue to promote an agriculture and consumer policy that encourages and promotes the well-being of family farmers, ranchers, small businesses and consumers in rural America.

CA will continue to work with all levels of government to provide incentives and programs for beginning farmers, ranchers, small businesses in rural America and self-employed individuals.

CA seeks cooperation between private organizations and all levels of government to promote community development that will enhance family farms, ranches and small businesses across America. CA supports new uses or renewable resources to fuel economic development.

CA seeks health care and health insurance programs that are administered and maintained by the private sector with legislation enacted only to ensure that all Americans are guaranteed a minimum standard of health care and insurance at a reasonable cost, regardless of health or age.

CA will work to ensure that agricultural land will be owned and agri-business operated by family farmers and ranchers.

CA will work to strengthen services vital to family farms, ranches, small businesses and the self-employed.

CA will make every effort to preserve and improve our education system, which is a vital asset to our country. Distance learning, apprenticeship training, and similar programs will improve the lives of our youth.

Expanding international understanding through international exchange programs, including apprenticeship training, will improve the lives of our youth in America and the world.

Knowing young people represent the future of America, CA supports activities that broaden opportunities for youth in all communities.

CA supports and endorses programs that will provide benefits to improve the quality of life for senior citizens.

CA supports improved guest worker programs and seeks to provide pathways for legal immigration to enhance the US agricultural sector, rural business and the overall strength of the US economy. CA further promotes international travel as a further pathway to international understanding.

CA Board of Directors

Jeff Smedsrud

CEO & General Manager

Jeff has played a variety of roles within CA for 38 years. In addition to his work with CA, he has a distinguished career in the insurance industry as an advocate for reform, a senior executive at insurance companies, and as an entrepreneur and leader of marketing agencies. He co-founded Healthcare.com, a leading insuretech company for individual health insurance and Medicare, and Pivot Health, a Healthcare.com company focusing on niche health insurance solutions. Jeff has written extensively for national publications about health insurance. He is active on several non-profit boards and is a leader of RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that has erased $10.4 billion of medical debt for more than 7 million individuals. 

Stephen Rufer

Chairman and General Council

Stephen is CA’s chairman and general counsel. Stephen is a practicing attorney and lives with his wife, Sandy, in Fergus Falls, Minn. He is a certified civil trial specialist and is on the state Supreme Court roster of approved mediators and arbitrators. Stephen’s hobbies include biking, water sports and flying — he is a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor. He has three adult children, Emily, Sam and Tom. Stephen is active in the community and is currently president of Lake Region Healthcare Corporation. He is also a past president of CA.

Patty Strickland

President and Chief Operating Officer

Patty is president and chief operating officer of CA, and has been with the organization since 1981. Because she has worked in nearly every aspect of the organization, Patty has the knowledge and expertise to lead CA as it continues to grow while providing members with the benefits and service they have come to expect.

Angela Nelson

Chief Financial Officer

Angela is the chief financial officer for CA and has been with the company since 2006. She has served on numerous non-profit boards in both oversight and management capacities. Angela’s no-nonsense approach and attention to detail coupled with her deep sense of commitment and passion for her work have proven to be a valuable asset to all the CA members. Angela lives in Minnesota with her husband Les. She enjoys reading, going for motorcycle rides and spending time with her family

David Ramey

Vice President

David is the owner, with his wife, Carla, and winemaker of Ramey Wine Cellars. He is also a consultant for Rodney Strong Vineyards in Sonoma County. Previously, David directed viticulture and winemaking for Rudd Estate and Dominus in the Napa Valley, and Chalk Hill and Matanzas Creek wineries in Sonoma County. David and Carla live with their children, Alan and Claire, in Glen Ellen, Calif., in the heart of the Valley of the Moon.

Mark Richie

Vice President/ General Manager for International Programs

Mark is chair of Minnesota’s World Fair Bid Committee Educational Fund. From 2019 to 2022, Mark served as President of Global Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to advancing international understanding and engagement. A graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Iowa State University, he served as Minnesota’s elected Secretary of State from 2007 to 2015. Since leaving public service, Mark has led the public-private partnership working to bring the 2031 World’s Fair to Minnesota, and he has served on the board of directors of LifeSource, the U.S. Vote Foundation, and Expo USA. Mark is also a national advisory board member of the federal Election Assistance Commission and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Minnesota. Mark is the appointed Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, representing Minnesota. In his role as vice president of the Board, Mark is the lead on matters related to CA’s Exchange Program, including being the primary contact with the U.S. State Department.

Bob Rumpza

Vice President

Bob is the president of Rumpza Consulting, founded in 2007. Bob has worked inside non-profit organizations, corporations and communications agencies. He formerly served as executive vice president of Weber Shandwick. He has two community service roles in directing AmeriCorps volunteerism in Minnesota. He is a member of the executive committee of the ServeMinnesota board of directors; and is board chair for ServeMinnesota Action Network. He is a University of Minnesota School of Journalism alumnus and is the winner of the coveted Silver Anvil of the Public Relations Society of America for his crisis communications work.

Former Honorary Advisors

Bob Bergland*

Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Executive Director of National Rural Electric Association (1981-1995)

Wayne Nelson*

Former President of the National Association of Wheat Growers & President of Communicating for America