Leadership Team

The CCRP 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 CCRP engages consultants to provide grantee support on research methods, integrated monitoring, evaluation, and planning, agroecology, and other key areas.

Program Team

  • Jane Maland Cady

    International Program Director

    Jane oversees McKnight’s International Programs and co-directs the CCRP with Rebecca Nelson. Jane joined McKnight in 2008, bringing extensive domestic and international experience working with ecological agriculture, through her teaching, research, evaluation practice, and on-the-ground implementation across the natural and organic foods value chain in both Brazil and the USA. She brings years of experience in systems thinking and collaboration for social change to the foundation. She co-chairs the Steering Committee for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

  • Rebecca Nelson

    Scientific Director

    Rebecca is a professor of plant pathology & plant-microbe biology, plant breeding & genetics, and international agriculture & rural development at Cornell University. Her laboratory works on the genetic dissection of quantitative disease resistance in maize in collaboration with maize geneticists and breeders at Cornell, in Kenya, and elsewhere. She co-directs the CCRP with Jane Maland Cady.  She co-chairs the Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

  • Megan Powers

    International Program Officer

    Megan manages the CCRP’s capacity strengthening strategy, program operations, and grantmaking support structures. Prior to joining McKnight in 2015, she was a senior strategy consultant at Grassroots Solutions. In that role, she managed a host of nonprofit, public, and philanthropic initiatives, for which she provided facilitation, convening, advising, assessment, and planning to help build toward success. She has also held leadership positions at two nonprofits: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, where she led capacity building efforts of the National Gender & Equity Campaign, and the Advocates for Human Rights, where she directed a human rights education program and led an initiative to prevent child labor in rural Nepal. Megan is a former Fulbright grantee and Rotary World Peace Fellow.

  • Walter Abrego

    International Program Assistant

    Walter holds a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University. A onetime congressional intern for U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Walter was formerly a program assistant for initiatives in Guatemala, England, Hungary, Romania, and Greece while doing undergraduate work at the University of Northern Iowa.

  • Veronica Perina

    Program Assistant

    Veronica is the newest member of our team. She is the former logistics manager for I. S. A. Babcock, an international poultry breeder, headquarted in Lyon, France. She has also had an extensive career in human services, including managing the regional office of Planned Parenthood, teaching career and computer skills to participants of the Women’s Opportunity Center, and managing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Tompkins and Tioga counties of New York State.  She has been a member of the Cornell University community since 2007 when she was tasked with helping to create the emergency response plan to guide the Student and Academic Services Division in the event of a pandemic outbreak. She is excited to bring her experience and dedication to improving the lives of others through service to the CCRP.

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

  • Linnet Gohole

    East & Southern Africa CoP Regional Representative

    Linnet is an Associate Professor of Entomology and the Director of Research & Innovation at the University of Eldoret, Kenya. Linnet specializes in crop protection with a bias towards agricultural entomology. She conducts research in various areas of agriculture, and works with communities to improve their livelihoods through agricultural research and related activities.

    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

Farmer Research Network (FRN) 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

  • Hannah Smith

    IMEP Team Member

  • Claire Nicklin

    Andes CoP Regional Representative, IMEP Team Member

Key Advisors

  • Beth Medvecky

    ESAf Support Consultant

  • Ernesto Mendez

    Agroecology Support & Advisor

  • Michael Patton

    IMEP Support