Meet the HarvestPlus 100&CHANGE Team
Biographies of Key Staff
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Mr. Abaijuka has over 13 years of experience conducting Monitoring and Evalutation (M&E) activities and securing funding for development projects related to disease management, agriculture, and nutrition in Uganda. Since joining HarvestPlus in 2011, Mr. Abaijuka has been heavily involved with a five-year USAID funded project aimed at reducing micronutrient malnutrition and improving dietary intakes of vitamin A and iron for households in 25 districts of Uganda, in collaboration with a consortium of other research partners from the public and private sector. Furthermore, Mr. Abaijuka has supported the recruitment and capacity building of Country M&E and Learning Specialists in other HarvestPlus country programs, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Rwanda, Zambia, Nigeria, and DR Congo. His key areas of expertise include conducting socio-economic research and developing and operationalizing M&E systems.
Prior to joining HarvestPlus, Mr. Abaijuka worked as an M&E specialist at World Vision and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda. He received his Master of Agribusiness Management and BA in Economics and Rural Economy from Makerere University (Uganda), in addition to a Postgraduate Diploma M&E from Uganda Management Institute.
Advocacy Specialist, Africa
As a policy and human rights advocacy expert, Ms. Akiror has over 12 years of experience working with NGOs in Uganda directing service delivery and leading advocacy efforts. Ms. Akiror has devoted most of her professional life to the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of children, fundamental human rights, and clinical care of HIV/AIDS and/or terminally ill cancer patients and their families. Since joining HarvestPlus in 2016, Ms. Akiror has led efforts to engage with policy stakeholders in Africa to raise the profile of and advocate for the inclusion of biofortification in national policies and programs. Her other areas of expertise include organizing and conducting high level policy dialogue, capacity building in advocacy, and issue-specific media advocacy.
Ms. Akiror holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Laws from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Social Work from Nsamizi Training Institute of Social Development, a Certificate in Intellectual Property & Access to Medicines Program from University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), and a Certificate in Multi-Professional Plus Course in Palliative Care from St. Christopher’s Hospice (UK). In 2016, she received an honor award for “Best Junior Investigator” at the 2nd African World Congress on Pain.
Head, Knowledge Management
Ms. Asare-Marfo is a socio-economic research expert with over ten years of international experience in Africa and Asia. Prior to officially joining HarvestPlus in 2010 as a member of the Impact Research Unit, she worked on HarvestPlus-related projects with the Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Currently, Ms. Asare-Marfo leads the development and implementation of an organization-wide knowledge management strategy and system. This involves ensuring that the appropriate systems, procedures, and tools are in place to promote effective capturing, storage, dissemination, and use of data and information within the organization and with external stakeholders; setting the tone for organizational culture in relation to internal collaboration and knowledge sharing; and ensuring continuous program improvement and adaptive management through the development and use of lessons learned. Ms. Asare-Marfo is also a core team member for the M&E unit at HarvestPlus and provides technical advice on the coordination and implementation of household quantitative (and qualitative) surveys for M&E.
Ms. Asare-Marfo holds an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University and Honors degrees in Econometrics and Statistics and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Pretoria. She is currently a PhD candidate in Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development at the University of Hohenheim (Germany).
Dr. Anna-Marie Ball
Director, External Affairs
In her role as Director of External Affairs, Dr. Ball provides a wealth of experience in research, leadership, and the design and implementation of intervention programs. She has previously worked and lived in rural Africa for over 30 years, gaining experience in various sectors, including reproductive health (HIV/AIDS), water and sanitation (WASH), and agriculture-nutrition (biofortification) while leading large, multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural teams. Dr. Ball has been with HarvestPlus since 2006, serving in various roles including Uganda Country Manager and Head of Strategic Alliances in Africa. Recently, she has taken the lead on the oversight of communications, advocacy, donor relations, and partnerships.
Dr. Ball has received numerous awards for her research, including: IDRC Young Canadian Researcher's Award, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Award for Population-Based Research, and the International Outreach Research Award. She has also been awarded several fellowships and scholarships, including the NHRDP Fellowship, Manitoba Health Research Council Fellowship, University of Manitoba Fellowship, University of Guelph Graduate Scholarship, and the Herbert F. Crown Award.
She holds a PhD in Community Health Services from the University of Manitoba, a Master in International Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph, and a BSc in Biology (Honors) from Queen’s University (Canada).
Chief Financial Officer
At HarvestPlus, Mr. Baral plays a critical role in the global review of current systems and oversight of finance and administration functions, including supervision of the budget. He is responsible for contract management, country-level oversight and capacity strengthening, policy and process oversight, and risk management. Given the organization’s management in an international context, Mr. Baral is also involved with the review and resolution of operating complexities posed by cross-organizational accounting and contracting.
Mr. Baral has over 30 years of experience as a finance and business development expert. Prior to joining HarvestPlus, he served as the Regional Director for Asia at ABS Global. In this role, he was responsible for the Asia-Pacific region’s profit objectives and strategic direction, as well as identifying growth opportunities and developing high performing teams. Before joining ABS Global, Mr. Baral spent over 20 years with DuPont Pioneer in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and the United States. Thanks to his comprehensive international experience, Mr. Baral brings to HarvestPlus a range of expertise in budget analysis, contracting, financial forecasting, product strategy development, and risk management.
Mr. Baral received his Master of Business Administration from Drake University and his Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from Delhi University. He holds several certifications, including Certified Public Accountant (USA), Certified Internal Auditor (USA), Chartered Accountant (India), and a Green Belt in Six Sigma.
Country Manager, Kinshasa, DR Congo (Cassava)
Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2010, Mr. Bidiaka worked with the National Institute for Agronomic Study and Research (INERA) in DR Congo as Head of the National Cassava Program and Head of the Cassava Breeding Unit. He also led a variety of UN Food and Agriculture Organization projects involving the multiplication and distribution of cassava planting materials. He also worked with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as a research associate and technical assistant. In his role as head of HarvestPlus’ office in Kinshasa, Mr. Bidiaka leads the management of delivery operations and planning, monitoring, and evaluation of cassava seed production and dissemination through partner organizations. In addition, he assists INERA’s Cassava Breeding Unit in developing new biofortified cassava varieties.
Mr. Bidiaka holds an MSc in Plant and Soil Sciences and Plant Breeding from Tuskegee University as well as an Engineering Degree in Agronomy and Crop Production from Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques de Yangambi (DR Congo).
Dr. Ekin Birol
Director, Impact and Strategy
Dr. Birol is an accomplished research leader and senior manager with over 12 years of post-PhD experience in identifying evidence gaps; designing research portfolios, projects, and programs; fundraising and donor engagement; and implementing research projects with policy and programmatic implications in the fields of nutrition, agriculture, food, and environment. At HarvestPlus, she leads a research team of 10 full time staff and over 40 collaborators and consultants to determine the impact of HarvestPlus’ programs and to communicate research results to a wide range of audiences.
After spending three years working as a research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Dr. Birol joined HarvestPlus in 2010. During her time leading the impact team, she has successfully managed an annual budget of $4 million, led and developed a research team, and played a pivotal role in raising $100 million in funding. Dr. Birol has over 15 years of international experience working effectively with universities, research centers, donors, NGOs, and public and private sectors in various countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and North America.
Dr. Birol holds a PhD, MPhil, MSc, and BSc (Honors) from the Department of Economics at University College London. She was also a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. In 2010 and 2014, Dr. Birol received special awards in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments as an IFPRI/HarvestPlus employee. Her publication, Birol, E., A. Munasib and D. Roy. 2015. "Networks and low adoption of modern technology: the case of pearl millet in Rajasthan, India,” Indian Growth and Development Review, 8(2): 142 – 162, was selected by the journal’s editorial team as the “Outstanding Paper” in the 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.
Dr. Erick Boy
Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2008, Dr. Boy spent nine years at the Micronutrient Initiative, where he developed and managed the iron and zinc research portfolio, built a network of nutrition and public health experts as a consultative group for the institution, and proactively promoted the adoption and evaluation of multiple micronutrient powders in several Latin American and Caribbean countries. Before that, he served as a Medical Officer at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) for 10 years, providing technical assistance in maternal nutrition and iodine deficiency control to Central American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean ministries of health.
In his current role, Dr. Boy leads the nutrition unit, for which he commissions, designs, and supervises crop related research with respect to food consumption and micronutrient deficiency surveys, food composition/analysis, retention of nutrients during traditional cooking/processing practices, absorption/bioavailability of nutrients in humans, and randomized controlled efficacy trials. Dr. Boy additionally manages the Food, Nutrition and Health functional team, which includes country leads in nutrition and other relevant disciplines like marketing, advocacy, and communications that collaborate to make nutrition research findings available to non-technical target audiences. He is also responsible for the oversight of several external relations activities, including managing official relations with the World Health Organization, representing HarvestPlus at high-level nutrition conferences, and organizing scientific events to showcase biofortification research findings. He is a member of International Food Policy Research Institute’s Institutional Review Board, which he chaired from 2010 to 2014.
Dr. Boy obtained his medical degree from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and his MSc and PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis.
Director, Finance and Administration (IFPRI)
Mr. Fields oversees the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s $150+ million annual budget and leads the finance and administration function across the Institute, which includes Finance, Information Technology, Facilities, and Travel. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Fields served as IFPRI’s Controller for 13 years. While in this role, he successfully launched several key financial and administrative initiatives. Prior to joining IFPRI in 2001, Mr. Fields gained extensive accounting and management experience over an 18-year period working for a variety of private companies, including several years with one of the big four accounting firms. His key areas of expertise include strategic planning, budgets, financial planning and reporting, management, and policy and procedure development.
Since assisting with the launch of the HarvestPlus program in 2003, Mr. Fields has provided financial oversight to the program. He holds a BA in Accounting from Morgan State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Country Manager, Nigeria
Since 2010, Mr. Ilona has driven efforts to develop and release six varieties of vitamin A cassava, six varieties of vitamin A maize, and two varieties of iron and zinc sorghum in Nigeria. In his role, he also leads a multi-sectoral delivery partnership involving governments, NGOs, and the private sector that has reached an estimated two million farmers, particularly women, with biofortified seeds. Mr. Ilona’s extensive knowledge of government systems and networks has led to the inclusion of biofortification in three policy documents and guidelines in Nigeria within the past five years. He has trained more than 10,000 persons in different aspects of the cassava value chain, including agronomy, food processing, and marketing and general business development.
Prior to joining HarvestPlus, Mr. Ilona served as the Senior International Cassava Development Manager at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, where he contributed to the development of over 300 improved varieties of cassava. In collaboration with national scientists and farmers in 25 African countries, over 100 of these high yielding varieties were officially released to help farmers achieve better food security, income, and job creation. Mr. Ilona also played a critical role in developing cassava-based flour, starch, ethanol, and gari/fufu (processed cassava) value chains to promote the adoption of biofortified cassava. He also provided technical assistance and supervised the establishment of many successful small, medium, and large scale investments in cassava production, processing, and marketing in over seven African countries.
Mr. Ilona is in the process of completing his PhD in Plant Breeding at the University of Ibadan, from where he received a MSc in Plant Breeding and a BSc in Crop Science. In 1999, Mr. Ilona received the CGIAR “Excellence in Science” Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science and agricultural development in Africa. Furthermore, an improved cassava variety was named after him in DR Congo (ILONA MV2007/126) in 2013 in recognition of his work in selecting cassava varieties and fast-tracking their releases after Cassava Mosaic Disease invasion.
Manager, Africa Region Partnership Countries
Mr. Katsvairo has more than 10 years of experience working on poverty alleviation and development with farmers in various Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries under the Biomass Users Network and Program on Biomass Energy Conservation (ProBEC). Since joining HarvestPlus in 2011, he has gained experience in technology transfer of biofortification in various African countries, as well as country program management. Mr. Katsvairo has an excellent track record of exceeding delivery expectations under challenging conditions. His key areas of expertise include project management, rural development, capacity development, and sustainable development and agriculture. He holds a Master in Environmental Consultancy from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) and a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Zimbabwe.
Head, Strategy and Policy
Mr. Lividini joined HarvestPlus in July 2010. His initial work focused on the Optimal Micronutrient Portfolio Study, a project designed to examine the most cost-effective combinations of three primary micronutrient interventions: biofortification, fortification, and supplementation. Mr. Lividini has since been involved in all aspects of ex ante research at HarvestPlus, including examining the potential cost-effectiveness of HarvestPlus target country-crop combinations, investigating the potential impact of policy-relevant applications for biofortification, and participating in interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations to better understand nutrition security on a global level.
Currently, Mr. Lividini is head of the Strategy and Policy Unit within the Impact and Strategy Division of HarvestPlus, where he continues to lead both ex ante research as well as ex post research on the adoption of biofortified crop varieties. In addition, Mr. Lividini is a member of the Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation (MLE) functional team, and leads a research team on the development of tracking and forecasting models that link monitoring data with projections of biofortification’s implementation and impact. Prior to joining HarvestPlus, he held various research positions at Tufts University School of Medicine, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Lividini holds a MS in Nutritional Epidemiology and Master in Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Tufts University, as well as a BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition at Tufts University.
Dr. Antoine Lubobo
Country Manager, Bukavu, DR Congo (Beans)
Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2011, Dr. Lubobo served as a Principal Investigator and Coordinator of the Bean Program at DR Congo’s National Institute for Agronomic Study and Research (INERA). In this role, he was responsible for the development, introduction, and adaptation of bean varieties to local environments, as well as leading and coaching bean seed producers. He also previously held roles as a Food Security Consultant at World Vision and Country Representative of the Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) and the Southern African Bean Research Network (SABRN) for DR Congo.
As head of HarvestPlus’ team in Bukavu, DR Congo, Dr. Lubobo leads the management of delivery operations and planning, monitoring, and evaluation of bean seed production and dissemination through partner organizations. Since 2004, Dr. Lubobo has served as an associate professor at University of Lubumbashi in the Crop Sciences department where he teaches courses on Plant Pathology, Weed Sciences, and Plant Breeding. He also coaches research on legume crops. Dr. Lubobo’s other areas of expertise include food security, crop production, applied agricultural research, integrated soils fertility management, and integrated pest and disease management.
In 2013, Dr. Lububo was awarded “Best Presenter of Innovation Technology” at the ICCO Agri-Expo. He holds a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics, MSc in Plant Pathology and Protection, and a BSc in Crop Sciences from the University of Lubumbashi. He is also the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)’s Country Representative for DR Congo.
Country Manager, Uganda
Ms. Magezi oversees the promotion and delivery of vitamin A sweet potato and high iron beans in Uganda. She manages HarvestPlus’ partnerships with breeders and researchers to test crop varieties in different agro-ecological zones, and partners with NGOs to disseminate crops to farm households through different mechanisms. By linking farmers and producer groups to markets and conducting communication and advocacy activities, Ms. Magezi supports the adoption and funding for vitamin A sweet potato, high iron beans, and other crops in the pipeline, including vitamin A maize, iron rich sorghum and iron pearl millet. Through her advocacy work, she promotes the inclusion of biofortified crops in government policy.
Ms. Magezi’s key areas of expertise include nutrition programming in agricultural programs, food technology, development of information, education and communication materials for rural, semi-literate populations; stakeholder engagement; and budget and financial management. She holds a MSc in Applied Human Nutrition and BSc in Food Science and Technology from Makerere University (Uganda).
Manager, Business Development
Mr. Mbunji is an agriculturist by training who has worked in the seed industry for more than 27 years. For the past three years, he has played a critical role in supporting HarvestPlus country programs in the planning and implementation of programs and by providing mentorship to country teams. In this capacity, Mr. Mbunji recommends skills upgrading where necessary, and provides budgetary support to staff. Furthermore, he serves as a negotiator with private sector actors in ensuring the delivery of biofortified food crops.
Beginning his career as a field seeds extension officer, Mr. Mbunji gained extensive experience with seed processing, storage, breeding, and marketing. He then served as a business unit manager for Seed Co Zambia, transforming an export-dependent business into a business deriving its viability from the local market, and expanding the company’s seed distribution networks to reach all provinces in Zambia. Mr. Mbunji was part of the team that drafted the Zambia Seed and Research policy document that is part of the National Agriculture Policy of the Government of the Republic of Zambia. He also served as a consultant to assist in the creation of the National Seed Compendium of Zambia, which formed the basis for regional harmonization of seed laws in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Mr. Mbunji provides a wealth of technical and policy expertise to the HarvestPlus team.
Mr. Mbunji obtained a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Zambia. He currently serves as a committee member for the National Coordination Unit for International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) programs on maize in Zambia, the Regional Steering Committee for CIMMYT programs in SADC, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Seed Technical Committee.
Head, Monitoring and Evaluation
Mr. Mudyahoto leads the design, maintenance, and operationalization of HarvestPlus’ global level M&E (M&E) system, designed to adequately monitor, evaluate, and report implementation progress and results for HarvestPlus’ biofortification initiatives and those of its partners. The M&E system contributes to and sets the basis for HarvestPlus’ internal and external accountability, while generating lessons learned that feed into operational decision making and planning, program/project designs, and communication and advocacy messaging. In this role, Bho works with M&E teams in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as the Caribbean Head of M&E.
After receiving a BSc in Agriculture, Mr. Mudyahoto spent five years teaching high school biology, during which he completed his Graduate Certificate in Education. He completed a Master in Agriculture (Livestock) in 1998, after which he served as an Agricultural Extension Officer in the Government of Zimbabwe for three years. Thereafter, Mr. Mudyahoto took part time lecturer positions at the Zimbabwe Open University and the Midlands State University. He then spent 12 years in various M&E positions at Heifer International, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), designing and implementing M&E systems in seven African countries, before joining HarvestPlus in 2015. He brings a high level of expertise to the organization in M&E systems assessment, development and operation, agricultural research, and capacity development.
Mr. Mudyahoto holds an MSc in Agriculture (Livestock), Graduate Certificate in Education, and BSc in Agriculture (Livestock and Crops) from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2003 and 2004 he was recognized by Heifer International for writing top-selling success stories in fundraising. He was also named “Best biology teacher” in the Zimbabwe Midlands province in 1996.
Country Manager, Rwanda
Mr. Mulambu is an agribusiness manager with over 14 years of progressive experience in agricultural marketing, international food trade, seed systems, and crop production in eastern and southern Africa. He has project management experience with both private seed businesses and public sector institutions.
As the country manager of HarvestPlus Rwanda, Mr. Mulambu is responsible for the overall creation and implementation of strategies that support the development and delivery of biofortified crops to farming households in Rwanda. To support this broader goal, Mr. Mulambu facilitates program oversight at the country level to ensure efficiency in management of human, financial, and other resources. He drives in-country communications on biofortification to ensure program visibility amongst various partners and stakeholders and to promote consumption of biofortified crops and products by farming households and rural communities. Mr. Mulambu maintains a high level of representation for the program to bolster government and donor relations as well as fundraising strategies.
Mr. Mulambu holds a MSc in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security from Royal Agricultural University (UK), a Postgraduate Diploma in International Marketing from Germanys aid agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), and a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences (Agronomy) from the University of Zambia. He was the recipient of the Chevening-African Land & Food Fellowship from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office as well as the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)’s “Best Performing Employee” Award in 2016.
Seed Systems Specialist
Mr. Musoke leads efforts to promote the expansion of the planting of biofortified crops in Uganda by collaborating with partner NGOs, businesses, and farmer groups. In this role, he consults with and develops extension technical packages for extension staff, farmers, and traders to increase the volumes of biofortified crops grown and their value-added products traded. Mr. Musoke’s key areas of expertise include social economic research, experimental research, and organizational and agricultural value chain management.
Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2007, Mr. Musoke spent three years as a manager at the Masaka District Agricultural Information and Technology Centre. In this position, he was responsible for transforming the organization into an autonomous training and information management center and enhancing its commercial production and financial support practices to ensure the sustainability of the organization. After receiving his Master’s degree, Mr. Musoke held various research and scientific coordinator roles for agriculture value chain related projects at multiple organizations, including the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), International Potato Center, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
Mr. Musoke holds a MSc and BSc in Agriculture from Makerere University in Uganda. He has also completed the Uganda Advanced Certificate Examinations and a Certificate of Education at St. Mary's College Kisubi. In 2003, Mr. Musoke received the International Center for Tropical Agriculture’s Uganda Entrepreneurship Award, as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Region Seed Inspectors Award in 2015.
Demand Creation Specialist and Assistant Country Manager, Zambia
For the past six years, Ms. Mwale has led demand creation in Zambia and assisted the country manager with day-to-day operations. In her role, she manages all communication department activities, including: conducting interviews, developing documentaries, designing promotional materials, managing media coverage, and developing training guides. Ms. Mwale also coordinates nutrition department activities by collaborating with partners that include government agencies, NGOs, and nutrition associations and by facilitating nutrition trainings. She serves as the in-country point person for all gender-related activities.
Prior to joining HarvestPlus, Ms. Mwale served as a management information systems officer at the Program Against Malnutrition (PAM), where she oversaw database design and management, as well as data processing, analysis, and reporting for all projects. During her time at PAM, she managed material collection and production of the quarterly PAM magazine. Ms. Mwale also led the organization’s exhibition for the Zambia Agricultural & Commercial Show that won “Best NGO Exhibitor” three years in a row.
Ms. Mwale holds an MSc in Project Management from the University of Lusaka, a BBA in Computer Science & Management from Solusi University (Zimbabwe), and a certificate in Marketing & Business Management from the University of Zambia.
Dr. Adewale Oparinde
Market Development Advisor
Before joining HarvestPlus as an Associate Research Fellow in 2011, Dr. Oparinde worked in the private sector for more than five years developing and implementing quality control and assurance programs as well as environmental management systems. As an Associate Research Fellow, Dr. Oparinde drove impact research on technology adoption and acceptance of biofortified crops in Nigeria and Rwanda. He also led and supported research on non-randomized impact assessment and randomized evaluation studies in project countries to measure the impact of the program on adoption, consumption, nutrition, and gender outcomes. In his current role, Dr. Oparinde works with the Global Programs division to develop markets for biofortified crops by conducting market assessment and intelligence activities. He has been consulted by organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Development Program (UNDP), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on diverse development and agricultural issues. He also championed and advocated for a proposal to foster social inclusion in the UN youth program at the 2009 UN General Assembly. His work has been published in several journals including Agricultural Economics, Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, PLOS ONE, Food Security, and Food Policy.
Dr. Oparinde holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics and MPhil in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge in addition to a MSc in Environmental Management from the University of Lagos, a BSc (Honors) in Biological Science from the University of Ilorin, and a Certificate in Social Program Evaluation from MIT’s Department of Economics.
Business Manager, Budgets
Since joining HarvestPlus in 2006, Ms. Panlilio has overseen the program’s finances, budget, and contracts, first as a Budget Coordinator and now as Business Manager. In her current role, she manages, coordinates, and develops the overall HarvestPlus budget through monitoring the financial activities of the program, including contractual commitments, disbursements, and expenditures. She coordinates with the Finance departments of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and develops HarvestPlus/IFPRI unit budgets. Ms. Panlilio also oversees grants management, proposal budget development, financial reporting, and coordination of the finance functional team, which is composed of finance staff based in IFPRI, CIAT, and HarvestPlus country offices.
Ms. Panlilio previously worked in the Philippines as Finance Manager for the Philippine National Construction Company and as an Account Manager at the Union Bank of the Philippines and Bancom Development Corporation. She holds a MBA from Boston University and a BS in Mathematics from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.
Dr. Wolfgang Pfeiffer
Director, Research and Development
Dr. Pfeiffer is a project manager and scientist with over 30 years of experience in crop improvement, commercialization, and international agriculture. He has been with HarvestPlus for over 12 years, serving in a variety of capacities, including Global Director of Product Development & Commercialization and Plant Breeding Coordinator. During his time with HarvestPlus, Dr. Pfeiffer has led HarvestPlus through the initial phases of gene discovery, product development, and commercialization, while expanding organizational capacity.
Under Dr. Pfeiffer’s direction, over 130 micronutrient-dense, high-yielding, and profitable varieties of key staple crops have been released in over 30 countries. He has also established country teams and created strategies to deliver seed and food products under social, commercial, and mixed marketing situations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Dr. Pfeiffer’s experience includes working with a wide range of crops, including rice, wheat, maize, cassava, beans, pearl millet, banana, plantain, cowpea, Irish potato, lentil, and sorghum. Currently, Dr. Pfeiffer leads the research team and drives the development, delivery, and commercialization of biofortified crops through collaboration with over 200 partners in 50 countries.
Dr. Pfeiffer received his PhD in Agricultural Sciences, MS in Agricultural Sciences with a focus on Plant Production, and Bachelor in Agricultural Economics from the University of Hohenheim (Germany).
Chief Executive Officer
Ms. Postma has 25 years of experience as a policy expert in international food systems, nutrition, and food security. Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2016, she spent six years as the founder and Executive Director of Food Industry Asia, a successful non-profit regional platform tackling food security, nutrition, and regulatory harmonization. In that role, she fostered multi-sectoral partnerships between major food companies and public sector affiliations, including the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the regional trade bodies APEC and ASEAN. Ms. Postma was a founding partner of the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) convened by the World Bank and a founding member of the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN).
Ms. Postma’s experience with food and agriculture stems from her childhood growing up in a farming community in the UK. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, she spent three years as a PhD Research Assistant with the University of Liverpool before accepting a Technical Development role with the Isle of Man Milk Marketing Board. This led to eight years with the UK National Farmers’ Union, including regional advocacy roles in the UK and Brussels. During that time, she was a prominent spokesperson for complex trade policies and agriculture negotiations in the European Union. Thereafter, Ms. Postma spent four years with Kellogg’s in Europe, and Syngenta in Asia. At Syngenta, she worked with regional and country leadership teams in Southeast Asia to support social, environmental, and economic benefits of crop protection and seed technology. This included the promotion of integrated food security initiatives with multiple stakeholders across Asia and beyond.
Ms. Postma received her BSc in Marine Biology (Honors) from the University of Liverpool and a Higher National Certificate (Distinction) in Business and Finance from Isle of Man College. She is the 2016 recipient of the Gold Standard Award for Professional Excellence.
Crop Development Specialist
Mr. Samazaka oversees HarvestPlus’ development of biofortified vitamin A maize in Africa through collaborative breeding efforts with CGIAR centers and national research programs. He ensures timely release and deployment of vitamin A maize varieties into the seed systems value chain, while assuring genetic purity and adherence to minimum varietal and seed standards through the maintenance of parental breeding lines seed stock.
Since April 2015, Mr. Samazaka has provided HarvestPlus with a wealth of expertise in crop variety development, including micronutrient biofortification and testing for increased yields, seed production, and quality testing. His professional experience includes over eight years of breeding maize and cotton, leadership in program planning, and the management of multi-million-dollar community development projects. Mr. Samazaka’s key areas of expertise include plant breeding, crop improvement, agronomy, conservation agriculture, seed multiplication and testing, and rural development.
Mr. Samazaka is currently pursuing his MBA at Copperbelt University (Zambia), and he holds a MSc in Applied Plant Genetics from the University of Birmingham and a Bachelor in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Zambia.
Director, Global Programs
Ms. Schonberg is responsible for designing and implementing a market development and partnership strategy to underpin the delivery of the HarvestPlus Strategic Plan. Based in Washington, DC and working in close collaboration with the Regional Directors and in-country teams, she coordinates a global Technical Assistance Program to support the development of sustainable value chains and public private partnerships, covering capacity building for product marketing, quality assurance, and legal and regulatory affairs. For the past three years, Ms. Schonberg has managed global program functions at HarvestPlus, supervising approximately 25 staff and consultants and overseeing research, communications, finance, administration, support for the external program advisory committee, and external legal and management consultations.
As a results-oriented manager and technical expert in food security and nutrition, Ms. Schonberg contributes her expertise in collaborative teamwork, strategic analysis, and a pro-active approach to effective problem solving. Her experience and insights are derived from working on both the donor and implementing agency sides of programming at multiple organizations. In addition to strong technical skills and a broad understanding of the range of programming approaches employed in food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture projects, Ms. Schonberg provides expertise in project and program-wide strategic and operational planning, advocacy, and agency positioning.
Ms. Schonberg holds a Masters in International Affairs with a focus Economic and Political Development from Columbia University and a BS in Business Administration from Boston University.
Ms. Sheckler has 25 years of experience working in international development across a number of sectors including: democracy and governance, food security, refugees, humanitarian assistance, public health, and media. She has worked in the NGO community for most of her career with organizations such as AED, CARE, the Refugee Policy Group, the Carter Center, and the Africa-America Institute. Ms. Sheckler spent five years working as an advisor to the Ethiopian Government and was seconded to the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS by UNAIDS.
In 2016, Ms. Sheckler joined HarvestPlus where she now leads global communications strategy to increase the knowledge and impact of biofortified crops. As Head of Communications, Ms. Sheckler raises the profile of HarvestPlus globally and nationally with media, policy makers, implementing agencies, donors, and the public. She also oversees the development of an array of HarvestPlus communication and outreach materials, including the annual report, informational and technical briefs, future flagship publications, and other informational materials. Furthermore, Ms. Sheckler works with HarvestPlus units, country offices, and CGIAR partners to define, develop, and coordinate joint project, initiative, and country and region-specific communications products. She provides capacity building and training to headquarters and in-country staff on nutritional messaging for biofortified seeds and crops, internal definition and use of terminology, and seed marketing and crop/product promotional materials.
Ms. Sheckler received her BA from Western Illinois University and her MA in African Studies from Atlanta University, and undertook doctoral work in Political Science at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Eliab Simpungwe
Country Manager, Zambia
Dr. Simpungwe has extensive experience in implementing efficient agricultural advisory systems that offer real solutions to rural agricultural households and adaptive research that partners with farmers. For the past seven years, he has led the HarvestPlus Zambia program with the goal of developing and increasing adoption of biofortified maize. His expertise in stakeholder engagement is pivotal to catalyzing efforts of actors from civil society, agriculture and health sectors, and the private sector. Dr. Simpungwe’s key areas of expertise include rural development, agricultural extension systems, and natural resource management.
Dr. Simpungwe obtained his PhD in Environmental Sciences from the Wageningen University of Life Sciences (Netherlands), a MSc in Economics and Planning from Reading University (UK), and an Advanced University Diploma from University of Zambia. He has previously taught agricultural economics and natural resource management at the tertiary level.
Market Development Manager, Africa
For the past three years, Ms. Ubomba-Jaswa has led HarvestPlus’ marketing initiatives in Africa. She determines the overall regional marketing strategy, which includes conducting marketing and consumer research, assisting country managers in developing consumer messaging and promotion materials, liaising with local media and other relevant agencies, and monitoring the effectiveness of marketing activities. Ms. Ubomba-Jaswa aims to use marketing activities to build capacity and ensure best practices to support the broader goals of HarvestPlus.
Previous positions at Nestle South Africa, Kellogg’s South Africa, and Vodafone South Africa have equipped Ms. Ubomba-Jaswa with a comprehensive background in marketing strategy, brand management, budget management, and supplier contract relations. In 2008, she was named “Best Emerging Marketer” by Nestle South Africa. Ms. Ubomba-Jaswa received her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Honors) with a focus on Marketing Management from the University of Pretoria.
Head, Advocacy and Policy
Ms. Willingham leads the global advocacy and policy program at HarvestPlus. Prior to joining HarvestPlus in 2015, she was the Executive Director of Shot@Life at the United Nations Foundation, leading a campaign to raise awareness and resources to support the work of the UN and other prominent partners to immunize children in developing countries against vaccine-preventable diseases. As an independent consultant on global health projects, her clients included the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BIO Ventures for Global Health, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, the Center for Independent Journalism, and the International Society of Travel Medicine.
Prior to Shot@Life, Ms. Willingham worked in various advocacy roles at organizations, including Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Ms. Willingham began her career with the U.S. Department of State, where she served as a Foreign Service Officer in Latin America, the Middle East and Washington, DC for thirteen years. Ms. Willingham was a five-time recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, which she received for her outstanding service.
Ms. Willingham holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in English and History from the University of Virginia, and is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute’s Political Leadership Program. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Foundation for the University of the Valley of Guatemala. She has been a guest lecturer at American University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University. Her public appearances include interviews on National Public Radio, CNN en Español, Voice of America, international conferences, and training courses for U.S. government officials.