10 Years of Agrilinks: A Community Retrospective
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Agrilinks, we are bringing you a very special webinar on our new platform! For the past ten years, Agrilinks has been a source of learning, connecting, knowledge sharing, and training. In line with that long-standing tradition, we want to bring you a learning event this month with top thought leaders in the agricultural development space.
Our very own Zachary Baquet of USAID will be giving an introductory talk on the history of Agrilinks, and a little information on how you can use Agrilinks to better your work. We will then follow up with a series of lightning talks from food security specialists to discuss their perspectives on the past, present, and future of agricultural development. How did we get here and what can we do to achieve a zero hunger future? Join us to find out.
Chief Executive Officer
World Coffee Research
Vern Long is the Chief Executive Officer of World Coffee Research, the world’s first global, collaborative agricultural R&D organization for coffee. A plant breeder by training, Long brings 25 years of experience in international agricultural research with a focus on smallholders, and deep expertise on genetic resources policy. Prior to joining WCR, Long served as the director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she managed a global program portfolio of >$140 million per year. Long has substantial experience convening diverse stakeholders — from industry, national governments, CGIAR international agricultural research centers, university scientists, and farmers—to formulate a shared crop research agenda to improve productivity among smallholder farmers. Her work has spanned low- and middle-income countries in diverse geographies including Central America, West Africa, East and Southern Africa, and South Asia. She has served on various multi-donor working groups, including as Chair of the Agricultural Research Working Group of the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development based in Bonn, Germany. She received her PhD in plant genetics from Cornell University.
Professor, Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
Michigan State University
Mywish K. Maredia is a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University with robust experience in conducting research and capacity building activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She focuses her work on the nexus of agricultural economics, food security policy, international development, and impact evaluation. She has led several research initiatives involving field experiments and extensive data collection on a wide range of topics. Maredia has also worked as a consultant with many international organizations, served as the director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy from 2016-2020, associate director of the USAID–funded Bean/Cowpea and Dry Grain Pulses CRSP from 2000-2009, and as a member of the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment of the CGIAR’s Science Council from 2006-2011.
Deputy Assistant Administrator
USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Prior to working at USAID, Mr. Michener most recently served as Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation with the United States Council for International Business in Washington D.C., and just prior to that as Director of Multilateral Relations for CropLife International in Brussels, Belgium. Mike represented these trade associations before a range of international organizations – including the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Previously, Mr. Michener served with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, first as Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service and then as Minister Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome. Mr. Michener has also worked for the U.S. Department of State in several roles, including senior governance advisor and strategic planner for stability operations, civil-military affairs specialist, and senior advisor for democracy and human rights programs in Iraq. Mike also worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as an Asylum Officer and USAID as a Democracy Advisor in Bosnia and Kosovo. Mr. Michener began his career with the United States Army, serving in Europe as a military intelligence specialist.
Originally from Iowa, Mr. Michener has a master’s degree in public administration from Bowie State University. Mr. Michener earned a bachelor’s degree in East European studies from the University of Maryland by taking night school classes while serving on active duty in Munich, Germany. He speaks fluent Romanian and several other languages.
USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Rob Bertram is the Chief Scientist in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, where he serves as a key adviser on a range of technical and program issues to advance global food security and nutrition. In this role, he leads USAID’s evidence-based efforts to advance research, technology and implementation in support of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. He previously served as Director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy in the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, which leads implementation of the Feed the Future research strategy and related efforts to scale innovations in global food security efforts, working with a range of partners. Prior to that, he guided USAID investments in agriculture and natural resources research for many years. Dr. Bertram’s academic background in plant breeding and genetics includes degrees from University of California, Davis, the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland. He also studied international affairs at Georgetown University and was a visiting scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. He has been especially active in plant genetic resources policy as it relates to research for development, including applications of biotechnology in food security-related research. Before coming to USAID, he served with USDA's international programs as well as overseas with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system.
Strategy & Learning Advisor
Office of Policy and Analysis, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Zachary Baquet serves as the Strategy and Learning Advisor with USAID’s Bureau for Resilience & Food Security (RFS). He leads the bureau’s Learning Team in efforts to improve the learning and knowledge sharing enabling environment within RFS and beyond. Joining USAID in 2008 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow, he served in USAID’s former Office of Agriculture (2008-2010). In the Office of Agriculture, he worked on food security, the integration of climate change and natural resources management into agriculture programming, and knowledge management issues. Working in the Bureau for Food Security from 2010 to 2020, he led a team that provided support to the bureau around knowledge management, training, open data, and learning agendas. During this time, he also launched the Agrilinks.org learning platform. Baquet has an undergraduate degree in Physics and Astronomy, Ph.D. in molecular biology, and did post-doctoral work on neurodegenerative disorders.