Ashfaq Ahmad holds a master degree in Development Management (MDM) from Asian Institute of Management as a recipient of Asian Development Scholar (Young Leaders Award 2013). Ahmad has extensive experience in the development sector of Pakistan working with different organizations. Prior to joining the MPS Program, he was heading the Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (PMER) Unit in a European Union 80 Million Euros program called District Governance and Community Development under the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Community driven Local Development Policy, working with a team of almost 100 people.
Fante Bradford has a BA in International Relations and, prior to starting this program, worked as International Affairs Coordinator for ADL – a non-profit dedicated to combatting all forms of hate and bigotry and promoting justice and fair treatment to all. Bradford grew up in a military family and has lived, worked and studied in Panama, France, South Africa and throughout the United States. Her experiences abroad living with and learning from locals of these regions have centralized her focus on the importance of promoting social responsibility within transnational food corporations in regards to how they approach agricultural practices in rural, developing regions whose lands are often used for unsustainable, large-scale food production that negatively impacts local communities; increasing food insecurity, altering the biodiversity of their land and, en masse, causing climate change and long-term global environmental effects.
She would like to depict how adopting sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroforestry and regenerative agriculture and discontinuing destructive, short-term methods, such as the overexploitation of land through monoculture and utilizing toxic fertilizers and pesticides, will promote long-term profitability for both corporations and local communities whose resources are being used; maintaining the integrity and biodiversity of the land and environmental resources engaged for food production and, overall, promoting food security within regions whose people generally suffer from the impact of large-scale corporate food production.
Gusti is from Indonesia and worked with university and high school students in his country to build a community that aims to raise awareness among youth about organic food and sustainable agriculture. Gusti was part of Swiss-based organization called Global Changemakers, which consists of passionate young people who want to make this world a better place. He talked about agriculture and environment at the Global Youth Summit 2016, held by the same organization, as a representative of Indonesia. After the summit, He started a project that facilitated schools and orphanages with simple greenhouses made of bamboo to provide daily healthy food supplies and passed the knowledge to the kids about how to produce food from seeds. He realized that young generations should know where the food comes from. For the past two months, He also had a chance to work as a marketing and education consultant to provide affordable online education platform for students in Indonesia. He became interested in marketing, consumer behavior, and the role of media to support product selling. He thinks that with good marketing, organic food and sustainable-certified food can reach more people, especially in developing countries. People should know the science behind the food so they can make a sustainable choice. He is going to deepen his understanding of organic food production both on and off-farm as well as gain knowledge in the food trade, policy and market analysis.
Chatkaphat Bunnag is interested in emerging markets, especially China and the regional integration policy and strategy of the Chinese Government (PRC). He has observed China’s growing influence and impact on Mekong Delta countries including Thailand and how China has shifted their national strategy and policy to respond to PRC’s Belt and Road initiative project. Therefore, with the surge in Chinese presence, he would like to research this topic to help identify possible strategic options and how the region should respond or reshape national strategy and foreign policy due to this massive global undertaking.
Prior to his studies in Cornell, he worked as Policy and Plan Analyst in the International Strategic and Coordination Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council of Thailand. He has a great deal of working experience as a national secretariat with neighboring countries and other parties such as development partners through cooperation programs. Many international initiatives including The Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation: GMS and Mekong-Japan Economics and Industrial Cooperation Initiative: MJ-CI. He holds bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Marie Fleming's research and project interests are in food security, income-generating activities for livelihood development, linking smallholder farmers to foreign markets, and community climate resiliency. Prior to attending Cornell, she worked as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Madagascar. Her primary project focused on food security and nutrition. As a secondary project she worked closely with vanilla farmers helping establish trade partnerships between cooperatives and international buyers. She also developed a youth sports and environmental program. During her undergraduate studies at Pitzer College, she conducted field work in Botswana on human-wildlife conflict topics and worked as a field assistant on a coffee farm in Nicaragua focusing on reforestation. Marie is from Boston, Massachusetts.
Naranzul Ikhagvasuren is focused on agribusiness platform based on social entrepreneurship. Prior to her studies in Cornell, she worked as CEO at Saranagoods and Jamts Naturals LLCs, startups which work towards implementation of ecosystem or model for sustainable and social enterprises in the agriculture sector through honey and salt production based on Mongolian natural resources.
As part of the community- based UNFAO forest management team in 2007, Naranzul was involved in implementing non-timber forest product marketing and sales management program in six pilot forested area in Mongolia. She had to provide effective and accurate support to the forest user groups on business plan development and market strategy.
Naranzul has interest in doing development model/policy analysis on supporting system to start-ups especially food production makers, tax system and so on in developing countries, as well as capacity building of stakeholders in agribusiness. She holds Bachelor’s degree in International Economic Relations from National University of Mongolia, Mongolia and Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Finance and Economics, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Emily Keast is interested in market-based solutions to improve livelihoods. Specifically, she is interested in emerging markets and private sector development in rural areas; she wants to find gaps in value chains and identify solutions so that farmers and businesses can increase their income, move up the value chain and stimulate the local economy.
Prior to Cornell, she received a BA in Economics and Environmental Studies from Lake Forest College and went on to serve as an Agriculture Volunteer for the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. During her time in Ethiopia, she focused on nutrition-sensitive agriculture initiatives, focusing specifically on household gardens and poultry management. Following that, she worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ethiopia for their USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program. She worked with host organizations to identify gaps within their horticulture, livestock, and crop value chains and developed projects to fulfill these gaps. In addition to F2F, she worked for Feed the Future’s Livelihoods for Resilience-Oromia project where she analyzed value chain development, identified sustainable upgrading strategies, composed annual work plan, and calculated annual targets.
Randell Mengel is focused on the monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic activities aimed at direct poverty alleviation and capacity building for local communities and organizations. Before Cornell, Randell served in the Peace Corps, as a small enterprise development volunteer in the Mopti region of Mali and later as a Peace Corps response natural resources management specialist working with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in Campo-Ma’an, Cameroon. He holds a B.A. in International Affairs from George Mason University.
With a focus on food security issues, Randell has conducted feasibility studies and training on income-generating activities and business planning for smallholder farmers and women’s savings associations. Working as a communication specialist for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature he has collaborated directly with Cameroon’s Ministry of Wildlife and Conservation service to oversee the maintenance of Campo-Ma’an National Park.
Additional work included the design and delivery of agroforestry courses to local farmers as well as providing technical training in support of the formation of a local tour guide association through USAID’s Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance initiative. Randell’s research and project interests include food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, developing strategic initiatives for eco-tourism and alternative-income generating activities and sustainable tropical agricultural development and differentiation practices.
Kamala Ndedi Eyango has five years of living experience in Cameroon and work experience including work in the Department of Sustainability and Governance with Dangote Industries Limited Nigeria and implementation of sustainable practice plans with rural farming communities in Cameroon. Kamala is passionate about innovative and sustainable smallholder farmer centered farming and production systems and the realization of maximum Sub-Saharan African agricultural potential, production and profitability with a focus on Cameroon.
After graduating from UCLA with a bachelors in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Engineering, Kamala moved back to Cameroon to develop the conceptual framework and on grounds structure of her food business Eyango Food Company — a fruit and vegetation production and distribution business based out of Cameroon.
While at Cornell, Kamala’s focus will be further establishing and structuring her vision for Eyango Food Company. She expects to complete her design of smallholder farmer centered agricultural business structure for Cameroon, from the levels of agricultural practice and production to global trade. Her research areas will include: current sustainable agricultural technology and best practice applicable, food production, increase strategies and maximization of land use, food product transformation processes, modern strategies of conservation and storage applicable to sub-Saharan African climates, global trade quality standards and processes, market opportunities, and other business establishment related research. Born in Los Angeles to a Sri Lankan mother and Cameroonian father, Kamala anticipates expanding her plan for agricultural productivity to other areas of the world including, but not limited to, Southeast Asia.
Gabriella Payne is focusing her research at Cornell on exploring the participation of women at the production level in agricultural activities and the contribution of women in the rural economy particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Gabriella was also a recipient of the P.E.O International Peace Scholarship in 2019.
Before attending Cornell University, Gabriella completed her Bachelor’s degree in Politics and Sociology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. Gabriella is currently the chief operating officer at Shea Origin Limited, a company involved in the production of raw shea butter, playing a key role in improving the shea value chain, significantly ramping up processing capacity through training of the local women in the latest techniques and providing the necessary tools i.e. machinery and developing export markets for which they can sell their products.
Originally from Nigeria, Gabriella hopes return to Nigeria and work to promote the advancement of gender equity in agriculture and rural areas.
Duaa Randhawa's areas of interest include looking at the use of informal networks for bottom-up community formation among refugee settlements in order to find a way to have refugees represent themselves and their own needs in policy conversations.
Most recently she was working in education development in the West-African and West-Indian diasporas in Queens, New York, ensuring that students of populations who have historically been undeserved by the mainstream education system were receiving the tools and services they needed in schools to succeed.
During her bachelors at Sarah Lawrence College, she concentrated in Sociology with a specific interest in marginality and inequality and went on to study Refugee Studies and International and Diaspora Development at the University of Oxford. She hopes to eventually apply theories and concepts from International Development onto diasporas, specifically looking at bottom-up grassroots mobilization and how relationships between and within grassroots organizations can fill gaps in development that are left by top-down state organizations.
Rasmussen, originally from central Pennsylvania, is interested in the myriad of variables that perpetuate poverty and affect development in underrepresented communities. In future research and projects, she hopes to focus on the human aspect of vulnerable populations and how adaptation strategies can be effectively implemented in response to resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and social injustice.
Before coming to Cornell, Rachel served in the Peace Corps as an agricultural extensionist in southern Paraguay, focusing on community organizing and potable water access with subsistence farmers and small producers. During this service, she conducted projects in agroforestry, apiculture, integrated pest management, and youth leadership camps. After her close of service, she worked in the non-profit sector coordinating housing and food security programs for high-risk youth and HIV vulnerable populations in both urban and rural communities of central Pennsylvania.
Luis Felipe holds a bachelor’s degree in Multicultural Relations (cultural anthropology) from the University of the Americas Puebla and is currently working towards a master’s degree in international development at Cornell University. Exploring multiculturalism has been a passion that led Luis Felipe to visit more than 50 countries, additional to living and studying in China, France, Mexico and the U.S.
During his college years Luis Felipe worked as a summer intern in Mexico´s embassies in France, Japan, Panama and Belgium, where he participated and concentrated in cultural, economic and political affairs.
Luis Felipe’s research experience is in migration. He undertook research with return migrants from the Puebla region in Mexico and spent almost every weekend for eighteen months working and conducting qualitative research at an undocumented migrant shelter in Apizaco, Mexico; there he gave humanitarian aid and studied vulnerability, identity, substance abuse and access to justice of undocumented migrants from Central America.
His main interests are development policy and development planning. During his time at Cornell Luis Felipe is interested in diversifying his knowledge to other regions of the world, including India, the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.
Leala Rosen has a focus on climate change mitigation and adaption strategies impacting small-scale farmers, specifically in Southeast Asia. During her time as a food security volunteer with Peace Corps Nepal, she worked with small farmers to diversify crop production, promoted WASH behavior change through menstruation education, and chaired the Gender and Development Committee. Most recently, Leala managed a non-profit urban youth farm as the sole employee, and worked with refugee gardeners at the International Rescue Committee in Dallas, Texas.
Her research interests include climate change adaptation and resilience strategies, land grabbing, Nepal/Southeast Asia, water rights, political ecology, place-making, gender equity, and integrated land management. Leala has a bachelor's degree in Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Environmental Studies from Hendrix College. She is a 2019-2020 Foreign Language Area Studies Fellow.
Paul Rule comes to Cornell CALS from Wallingford, Pennsylvania. He served for three and a half years in Peace Corp Ecuador where he implemented five agroforestry projects throughout the Amazon, costal, and sierra regions of Ecuador. Two projects continue operation and are looking to advance in their self-identified project goals. Other experiences from Peace Corp include teaching two sections of physical education and culture to students ages 9 to 12. The success of in-site trainings and work with farmers led to a manual and series of trainings designed by Paul to aide agroforestry/sustainable agriculture projects on a national level. Paul has his bachelors of arts from Gettysburg College where he designed his own major titled “Americana Studies and History of Democratic thought”. Paul is a licensed K-12 Spanish teacher and 6-12 social studies teacher in Pennsylvania. His research interests include case studies about agroforestry systems, soil microbe and soil biota life in relation to nutrient and succession management practices.
Rex Ukaejiofo was born in Nigeria and earned a B.Tech in Agriculture from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (2005) an MBA from the European University of Lefke (2010), and a PhD in Rural Development & Management from the China Agricultural University in Beijing (2014). His interests are in: agricultural policy analysis, smallholder agricultural development, research monitoring & evaluation, climate resilience and disaster risk financing.
Over the past ten years, Rex has worked in international development with a focus on agriculture, food security and international development. Much of his work has been based on the sub-Saharan Africa region. He’s led several agriculture and rural development projects including those of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research institutions, namely: The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria and International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington D.C. Much of this work comprised providing technical and strategic lead in strengthening institutional linkages, integrating agriculture to enterprise development and in rural livelihood sustainability.
Prior to joining the MPS program at Cornell, Rex worked as a Consultant in the Environment and Agriculture Global Practices of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., supporting and leading projects in Southern Africa since 2016. During this time, he led the development and management of technical inputs and policy analysis and liaised with private sector partners to develop innovative strategies to boost rural livelihoods access to market and higher incomes. He also facilitated high-level interactions between government agencies, partner stakeholders and led field and program implementation to shape a programmatic approach of the World Bank’s engagement in Lesotho and South Africa. Such work was instrumental to maintaining client relationships and developing high-level-and-quality engagement with policymakers, academia and government stakeholders.
DeAndre Uwakonye, originally from Lexington, Kentucky, has research and project interests that include leveraging technological innovations in the design of development programming focused on re-engaging youth in Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential for commercial and business opportunities in the African cannabis market and its impact on local communities.
Prior to attending Cornell, DeAndre worked as associate director of projects for a management consulting firm based in Lusaka, Zambia, focused on technology for health, public-private partnerships and youth development. In his role, he has managed large-scale USAID and Bill & Melinda Gates funded programs leading teams in Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa and Malawi in the development of program management and country specific strategies for international NGOs, government and private sector organizations. As a case study, DeAndre would like to do an analysis of the marijuana industry in Lesotho and understand how increased investment in the industry will grow the Lesotho economy and potentially address increased unemployment for vulnerable youth.
Sarah is an engineer, design-thinker and a medical technology innovator turned healthcare preventionist, food technologist, and agriculturist. She received her Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Design Methodology from Stanford University in 2004 and has ten years of professional experience in engineering and technology innovation, having played roles on the development of leading edge products in medical devices, automotive technologies, aerospace technologies, and food technologies, from 2010-2013, as a research engineer/pediatric surgery design fellow at SRI International and the Stanford School of Medicine.
In 2014, she took a leap into social entrepreneurship, starting out in food technologies and personalized health, with a focus on bringing access to healthy affordable foods while reducing environmental impact of food systems, through operations and supply chain innovation, new technology development, novel systems design and working with food waste before ‘food waste’ was a thing. In 2015, Sarah did her entrepreneurship studies through the Stanford Ignite Certificate Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Sarah enjoys connecting dots and drawing inferences in meaningful ways and, along with being analytical, diligent and detail-oriented, she also enjoys the creative process and thinking about problems.
She has a particular interest in addressing food and nutrition security, the health of populations, and the impact of our choices on the environment, and is excited to be studying nutrient management of farms and to be developing globally scalable solutions to increasing the health of our soils in order to scale-up production of food and mitigate our impacts on the climate.