Marin land trust hires biotech entrepreneur as CEO


The Marin Agricultural Land Trust has hired Thane Kreiner, a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, as its new chief executive officer.

“I’m not a traditional candidate because I don’t have experience in land trusts,” Kreiner said.

Kreiner has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and two degrees from Stanford University: a master’s in business administration and a doctorate in neuroscience. His dissertation involved “peptidergic secretory vesicles” in a species of sea slug.

“I’m trained as a scientist so I have a lot of respect and care for evidence and facts,” Kreiner said. “That is something that will guide us going forward as we think about ways that MALT can play a major role in leading regenerative, inclusive agriculture in Marin County.”

Neil Rudolph, chairman of MALT’s board of directors, said, “We cast a wide net for the CEO role, and the board is confident that Thane’s unique experience will be invaluable in helping MALT achieve our long-term aspirations.”

Kreiner spent 17 years founding and running life sciences companies. They include Affymetrix, which concerned DNA chip technology; IZumi Bio Inc., a biotech acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $725 million in 2014; and Presage Biosciences, an oncology drug development venture.

“But at the end of the day,” Kreiner said, “my primary responsibility was maximizing financial returns for the venture capital investors and their limited partners. I was much more interested in how science and technology can improve life for people and the planet.”

So Kreiner shifted gears, and from 2010 to last June was the director of Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

“Miller Center accelerates ventures that are serving the poor and protecting the planet with solutions like clean energy, safe drinking water, sustainable agriculture, women’s economic empowerment and health care,” Kreiner said.

Kreiner said he was attracted to the MALT job partly because he had grown tired of commuting to work from Sonoma County, where he and his husband had purchased a house adjacent to his husband’s family.

“The fact that MALT was interested in considering someone who is more of an entrepreneur and innovator and social impact leader is testament to the direction that the board of directors and the team would like to see MALT move,” Kreiner said.

He envisions the land trust playing a leading role in making Marin a global model for a regenerative local agriculture that nourishes the local community and affords dignified livelihoods for those who steward the land.

“There are already some ranchers and farmers who are implementing really innovative practices like carbon farming and rotational grazing with cattle,” Kreiner said. “Those kinds of practices can lead to food production becoming carbon neutral or carbon negative.”

Marcia Barinaga, who operates Barinaga Ranch together with her…

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