I am a sociologist of agri-food systems and I truly enjoy working at the intersection of research and development to continuously seek ways to improve how research is done and used to impact the livelihoods of the rural poor using food as an entry point. I get excited about value chains and small farmers and traditional food markets and women. I enjoy learning how national and local organizations work and learning how international organizations can add value to that work and empower local actors.
I have worked in rural agricultural development for over 20 years as development practitioner and researcher with a focus on Central America. I have carried out research on participatory methods, food systems, value chains, and resilience. I have worked in design, direct implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development and research programs, as well as in the development of strategic alliances with donors, government entities, private sector partners, and national and regional development organizations.
I started my career at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) as participatory methods specialist for a regional integrated pest management and agroforestry project in Central America. I also spent five years as Regional Representative for Central America and Haiti with Lutheran World Relief working with local partners on food security, value chain development, emergency response, disaster risk management, digital inclusion, resilience and gender.
I joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), now the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, in 2017 to lead their work in Central America. I am currently based in Nicaragua and spend half of my time on research and outreach on issues related to food systems, food environment, consumer behavior and value chains as Americas Lead for the Food Environment and Consumer Behavior research area and the other half on strategic leadership of the Alliance in Central America.
I completed my PhD and MSc in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in the sociology of agri-food systems in the developing world.
In my free time I enjoy mountain biking on the backroads of Nicaragua, hiking, and dancing when I get the chance.