Leadership Team

The CRFS is supported by a global team of McKnight staff and consultants who work closely with grantees and other partners. The program team manages the cross-cutting grant portfolio and coordinates program-wide efforts. Each community of practice (CoP) is supported by a regional team that partners with existing grantee project teams as well as supporting the grantmaking process, fostering learning and inspiration within the CoP. In addition, the CRFS engages consultants to provide grantee support on research methods, integrated monitoring, evaluation, and planning, agroecology, and other key areas.

Program Team

  • Jane Maland Cady, PhD

    Program Director

    Jane Maland Cady, PhD, is the director of the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems program of the McKnight Foundation. The program focuses grantmaking on sustainable livelihoods in 15 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, particularly on agroecological research for smallholder farmers and natural resource rights for local communities. She serves as steering committee co-Chair for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. Before joining McKnight in 2008, Jane spent 15 years managing her own research and evaluation consulting firm. She has worked across the natural and organic foods value chain and grew up on a southern Minnesota farm.

  • Paul Rogé

    Senior Program Officer

    Paul leads and advances the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems program’s biophysical science research. He brings a deep understanding of program development and extensive experience in data analysis and evaluation. Before joining McKnight, Paul was a professor and research advisor at Merritt College in Oakland, CA, where he taught courses in urban agroecology. In addition, he served as vice chair of the college’s curriculum committee. Paul holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. He speaks four languages: his first languages of English and French, plus Spanish after doctoral research in Mexico and Portuguese after two years of residence in Brazil.

  • Grace Gbolo

    Program and Grants Associate

    Grace supports the work of the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems. Prior to joining CRFS, Grace was the grants program manager at Mary’s Pence, which provides funding and support for women’s social justice organizations working in the United States. Prior to that she served with the Peace Corps in Zambia working with in sustainable agriculture and nutrition, and previously taught English abroad. Grace has also been involved in after-school curriculum development and youth and community advocacy.

  • Beyene Gessesse

    Program Officer

    Beyene brings to his role expansive global experience in research, training, consulting, community development, capacity building, and grants management. He was project supervisor for the Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme in Ethiopia, which aims to improve smallholder farmer access to and use of quality seed varieties to sustainably increase agricultural productivity. For over a decade, he was a lecturer at Mekelle University, in Ethiopia, teaching courses in agribusiness, rural development, and the sociology of agriculture. Most recently he was a grant specialist at Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners. Beyene holds an MSc in international development studies from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, and a BA in management from Mekelle University. Additionally, he was a research assistant at Pennsylvania State University where he studied agriculture and food systems for the rural sociology program.

  • Joel Krogstad

    Program & Grants Associate

    Joel supports the work of the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems program. Prior to joining the CRFS, he worked at Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) in Saint Paul, where he was responsible for the mechanics of placing 35 AmeriCorps members each year to teach technology literacy skills to low-income families or new Americans. Joel’s duties also included preparing financial reports, grant writing, and various essential administrative duties to support the management of finances and grants. Before CTEP, Joel spent time working for a farmer-researcher consortium in Ecuador and a human rights organization in Thailand.

  • Melinna Sixtos

    Program Team Administrator

    Melinna provides administrative and operations support to the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems program team. Prior to joining the CRFS, Melinna was operations director for Indigenous Roots, an organization dedicated to building, supporting, and cultivating opportunities for Native, Black, Brown and Indigenous people through cultural arts and activism. She has also held administrative roles at USBank Corp, Neighborhood Development Center, Dayton’s Bluff Community Council, Saint Paul Public Schools, and the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul. Melinna is passionate about supporting work in equity and inclusion across all communities.

Regional Team Members

  • Roberto Ugas

    Andes CoP Liaison Scientist

    Roberto Ugas is a Professor at Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM, Peru), where he is conducting research and lectures on horticulture, agroecology, smallholders, plant genetic resources, and food systems. He is a member of the Latin America continental supervisory board of Solidaridad, and participates in the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology, and in the International Society for Horticultural Sciences. Roberto is also a curator of the germplasm bank of chili peppers at UNALM and has been a member of the advisory committee of Peru´s National Association of Ecological Producers and of the accreditation committee of the International Organic Accreditation Services. He has also been the Vice-President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and member of the boards of Peru’s Permanent Seminar on Agrarian Research, Peru Opportunity Fund, and the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems.

    Community of Practice: Andes

  • Claire Nicklin

    Andes CoP Regional Representative, IMEP Team Member

    Claire is based in Quito, Ecuador and supports the Andes grantees in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. She also contributes to program-wide monitoring and evaluation. Her interests include utilization-focused evaluation, short circuit markets, agrobiodiversity conservation, and mixed methods.

    Community of Practice: Andes

  • Kate Wellard

    East & Southern Africa CoP Liaison Scientist

    A social scientist at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich in the UK, Kate’s research centers on the social, institutional, and policy aspects of agricultural innovation with smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. She has led research programs on farmer-centered research, policy, and agriculture-nutrition linkages, for more than two decades.

    Community of Practice: East & Southern Africa

  • Sara Namirembe

    East & Southern Africa CoP Regional Representative

    Sara leads STEPUP Standard Limited, a company building research capacity in climate-change response and ecosystem management. Based in Uganda, she has been actively involved in research and promotion of approaches for safeguarding ecological connectivity in forestry, agricultural and watershed management. Sara has mainly focused on agroforestry and landscape-based approaches including Payments for Ecosystem Services, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and forest carbon stock enhancement (REDD+), and Participatory Natural Resource Management.  Formerly, she worked with the World Agroforestry Centre, leading research on incentives and payments for ecosystem services in several watersheds in Africa. Earlier, she lectured in Agroforestry and Community Forestry at Makerere University and served on the board of directors for National Environmental Authority (NEMA), Uganda.  Sara holds a PhD in Forestry and Agricultural Sciences from University of Wales, UK.

    Community of Practice: East & Southern Africa

  • Prudence Kaijage

    East & Southern Africa CoP Regional Representative

    Prudence is the Managing Director of CBLI Centre Ltd, a consultancy company working in East Africa to promote organizational effectiveness and learning. Prudence is an established development practitioner with over 27 years’ post-graduate experience in the public, private and development sector.

    Community of Practice: East & Southern Africa

  • Bettina Haussmann

    West Africa CoP Liaison Scientist

    Bettina is associated to University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany where she conducts research and teaching on plant breeding in the tropics and subtropics. She also works 50% of her time for the German Plant Breeding company KWS, leading a capacity development initiative in Peru and Ethiopia, and advising on an Africa strategy.

    Community of Practice: West Africa

  • Batamaka Somé

    West Africa CoP Regional Representative

    Batamaka is an anthropologist and a research consultant based in Burkina Faso. He has conducted research in agriculture and gender, focusing on rural livelihoods strategies, food security, agricultural productivity and market access, and cash crop farming in Africa.

    Community of Practice: West Africa

Program Support

  • Mary Richardson

    FRN Learning & Exchange Coordinator

Research Methods Support (RMS)

  • Carlos Barahona

    Research Methods Team Lead

  • Ric Coe

    Research Methods Team Member

  • David Stern

    Research Methods Team Member

Integrated Monitoring, Evaluation, & Planning (IMEP) Support

  • Marah Moore

    IMEP Team Lead

  • Claire Nicklin

    Andes CoP Regional Representative, IMEP Team Member

  • KaYing Vang

    IMEP Support, I-Team Member

  • Roxanne Rane

    Evaluator, I-Team Member

Key Advisors

  • Ernesto Mendez

    Agroecology Support & Advisor

  • Michael Patton

    IMEP Support