Lawrence has worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2007. He currently leads the Seed Systems and Variety Improvement (SSAVI) portfolio and has primary responsibility for the Biofortification and Transgenic Product Development body of work within the Innovations Driving Effective Agricultural Systems (IDEAS) team.

Prior to joining the IDEAS team, Lawrence led the foundation’s Integrated Value Chain Team for root and tuber crops, and prior to that, he was a member of the Agriculture R&D team, serving for 20 months as the leader of that team on an interim basis.

Currently, Lawrence manages a portfolio of ten grants, including our flagship projects for biofortification (HarvestPlus), biotech crops (TELA maize, Golden Rice, Virus-resistant Cassava) and biosafety regulatory capacity building (ABNE). He also manages grants focusing on cassava seed systems and weed management. Lawrence serves as the Gates Foundation’s official “relationship manager” with Bayer CropScience.

Prior to coming to Seattle, Lawrence served as the Director of International Programs at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, where he managed humanitarian projects to develop disease-resistant varieties of cassava, sweet potatoes, and maize for Africa. From 1998 to 2002, he lived in Egypt, where he worked as an agricultural policy advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture, and before that in Burkina Faso, where he served as a food security advisor for Catholic Relief Services. Lawrence also lived in Chad for two years, where he assisted CARE and USAID with various agricultural development programs.

From 1990 to 1996, Lawrence worked as an economist for a consulting firm serving USAID, UNDP, and the World Bank, carrying out assignments in 25 countries in Africa and Asia. Lawrence began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, living in an ultra-poor village in Mauritania from 1985 to 1987, working as an extension agent, training farmers to grow rice. He earned a master’s degree in development economics from Princeton University in 1989. Lawrence speaks decent French, Spanish, and Arabic.

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