AgReach

Who we are subpage

Our Team

PaulPaul E. McNamara, Ph.D. 
Founder and Director, AgReach

Paul is passionate about extension and is committed to substantively improving the lives of smallholder farmers in the poorest countries of the world. Paul brings over 20 years of impressive international development experience to AgReach where he oversees a $22 million portfolio of international agricultural extension development activities. Dr. McNamara is well known and well respected in his field among peers, partners and the broader donor community. An accomplished academic, he is well published on rural development, nutrition and health, and extension in leading journals and publications. Under Paul’s leadership, AgReach’s work has spanned 4 continents and reached over 50 countries. With a background in international economics, agriculture and nutrition, Dr. McNamara understands the big picture and what it takes to really move the needle on food security and poverty alleviation. Dr. McNamara founded AgReach in 2016 and it now houses several large multi-country programs funded by USAID.

Ph.D. from University of Minnesota, St. Paul
M.P.P., from John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College, Illinois
Languages: English, Spanish

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Colette PowersColette Powers
New Business Development and Program Quality Specialist 

Colette has 25 years of experience in business, design, evaluation, management and building capacity, with a specialization in agro-enterprise and market systems development and analysis.  She has on-ground experience in nearly forty countries and working with international and multidisciplinary teams.  Building upon her knowledge of food security, agribusiness and market access functions, Colette had engaged with private and public sector firms for design and project collaborations, which she believes are critical to the success of longer-term development outcomes.  Because of her extensive familiarity with USAID and USDA, Colette provides leadership to support AgReach growth objectives, and University-wide priorities for program quality and excellence. 

Master of Arts in International Political and Economic Relations from the George Washington University, Washington, DC
B.A. in International Relations from University of Wisconsin at Madison
Languages: English, Danish, German, French
 

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Austen Moore, Ph.D.Austen
Deputy Project Director, SANE

Austen’s passion for agricultural extension led him to the University of Illinois where he now serves as the Deputy Project Director for the Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Services Activity (SANE) in Malawi. After serving with the Peace Corps in East Timor, Austen returned to the US to complete his doctoral studies at the University of Florida at Gainesville. Dr. Moore holds a PhD in Agricultural Education and Communication with a specialization in International Agricultural Extension. Dr. Moore is well published on subjects such as agricultural extension systems and approaches, community-led development, and post-conflict agriculture. While an accomplished academic, Dr. Moore is also an experienced development practitioner who spends several months of the year in the field, working on the ground, with our project team in Malawi. Austen is passionate about his work and is always looking for opportunities to build local capacity, improve food security, and empower farmers and rural people.

Doctor of Philosophy; Agricultural Education and Communication- University of Florida Specialization: International Agricultural Extension
Master of Arts; Agricultural and Extension Education- New Mexico State University Specialization: International Agricultural Extension
Bachelor of Arts; History- Yale University               
Languages: English, Tetum and Spanish

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Cristina Alvarez-Mingote, Ph.D. Cristina
Research Specialist

Cristina’s deliberate research and resulting understanding of the political economy and governance that impact farmers’ lives contribute to AgReach’s ability to design research-based programs that work. Eight years of research experience has prepared Cristina to assess the political economy of development within varied contexts, most recently concerning the public provision of agricultural extension services. In this role, she addresses issues of governance, accountability, and farmers’ involvement in extension service delivery. Before working with AgReach, Cristina earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which allowed her to conduct research on the connection between international migration and political development in migrant-sending countries and spend time with communities in Ecuador and her native Spain. AgReach applies Cristina’s knowledge of governance, political economy, economic and political development towards strengthening sustainable agricultural extension systems that empower smallholder farmers.

Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bachelor of Science in Economics from University of Oviedo (Spain)
Languages: Spanish, English, French

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Jan Henderson, Ph.D.Jan
Senior Capacity Development Specialist

Jan works with AgReach to equip people with sustainable, transferable skills through building up the capacities of agricultural extension workers, implementers, and managers especially in gender and nutrition knowledge. With a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Extension Education and forty years of experience in extension, Jan has worked closely with individuals and organizations at all levels in twelve countries. Most recently, Jan has been designing training materials to be used for incorporating gender and nutrition into capacity development activities, then facilitating training workshops that use those activities in various countries.

Ed.D. in Agricultural and Extension Education from Mississippi State University, Starksville
Master of Education in Agricultural Education from Ohio State University
Languages: English, Spanish

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Hitomi HoHitomi
Research Specialist

Hitomi works with AgReach conducting action-oriented, applied research to design programs that work. With a strong background in international development, Hitomi brings experience and knowledge in household survey data management and smallholders’ market access in sub-Saharan African countries such as Nigeria and Mozambique to the AgReach team. Along with conducting action-oriented and applied research, Hitomi coordinates the management of grant and cooperative agreement projects within AgReach. Hitomi seeks to understand market access and finance issues and trends of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and empower farmers to fully realize the potential of their resources. 

Master of International Business from the Fletcher School at Tufts University
Postgrad Diploma in Development Studies from the Institute of Developing Economies Advanced School, Japan
Bachelor of Economics and Business Administration from Kyoto University, Japan
Languages: Japanese, English

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Maria Jones, MBA
Gender Specialist

Maria has several years of experience within business, research, design, and environmental sustainability as well as project experience around gender, youth, and on-ground experience in capacity building initiatives. Because of her experiences, Maria’s primary role within AgReach is to track custom project indicators and goals as well as track the project performance against the Feed the Future Monitoring System. Additionally, she reports and communicates project progress to donors and she monitors and maintains project financial and operational systems. She also develops and maintains knowledge management systems and assists with the planning and coordinating of events domestically and internationally. Maria helps the people in India, Tanzania, and Uganda prosper, but her knowledge and work helps AgReach thrive.

MBA, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
BS Tech, Anna University
Languages: Tamil, Hindi, English  

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Avelardo RiveraAve
Communications Consultant

Avelardo is pursuing his degree in Agricultural and Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in Policy, International Development, and Trade, and a minor in French. Seeing first-hand how agriculture serves as a driver for economic growth and improved livelihoods, Avelardo’s semester in Sierra Leone allowed him to discern his academic interests early on. Avelardo’s experience with communities urban and rural, national and international across the US and West Africa has equipped him to create and manage media for a variety of cultures and needs. 

From translating documents, to managing the web platform and circulating key tools, Avelardo works to support communications for multiple donor-funded projects, designs strategic communication plans that align with USAID and Feed the Future guidelines, manages the program’s web platform, performs knowledge management functions, and circulates key tools. 

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Concentration: Policy, International Trade, and Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Languages: Spanish, French, Sierra Leonean Krio, Portuguese, American Sign Language, English

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Festus O. AmaduFestus Amadu
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Festus Amadu works a post-doctoral research associate for AgReach on the Feed the Future Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension (SANE) project. He has a wealth of experience in international development programs from his previous work in Africa (including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya) and Bangladesh. Festus is equipped with the skills needed for environmental, social and health impact assessments. His prior involvements include project Monitoring and Evaluation in Sierra Leone, his role as a rural finance officer in Ghana, and as a rural development expert with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security in Sierra Leone for over ten years. Festus actively participated in developing Sierra Leone’s National Sustainable Agricultural Development Plans under the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program in 2007. He has academic training in agricultural economics, with emphasis on agricultural development, food security, and poverty assessments. His work with AgReach helps SANE to understanding the linkages between agricultural extension, climate smart agriculture, and food security in southern Malawi.

Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master of Science in Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Njala University, Sierra Leone
Bachelor of Science Honors in Agricultural Economics at Njala University, Sierra Leone
Certificate in  Microfinance, School of Applied Microfinance, Mombasa, Kenya
Languages: Mende, Sierra Leonean Krio, English

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Amber MartinAmber
Field Coordinator, SPHEIR

Amber, based in Sierra Leone, is a former Peace Corp volunteer who has a broad range of experience in conducting trainings on conservation farming, environmental stewardship and food security in Zambia. She also held the position of provincial coordinator for Feed The Future projects in the Eastern Province in Zambia, where she spent time coordinating a wide variety of stakeholders. Amber has a diverse background in Political Science, Criminal Justice, Sociology and Anthropology, and International Relations. For AgReach, Amber directly engages with our stakeholders and supports Farmer Based Organizations in their effort to integrate gender and nutrition into their programming.

Master of Arts in Political Science from University of Illinois, Springfield, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from University of Illinois, Springfield, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science from University of Illinois, Springfield, Bachelor of Arts, Sociology/Anthropology from University of Illinois, Springfield

Languages: Nyanja, Chewa, English 

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Clodina C. Chowa, Ph.D.clodina
Chief of Party, SANE

Clodina is a consistent leader in agricultural extension services with over 34 years of experience, providing oversight and capacity building for state and non-state agricultural extension providers for AgReach. She contributes knowledge to policy themes related to agricultural nutrition, extension, and advisory services, provides oversight on capacity building for state and non-state agricultural extension providers to understand the systems approach to agricultural extension, and provides coaching and mentoring to national and district extension staff. Clodina brings her skills in planning and management of agricultural extension and advisory services, policy development and review, project and strategic management, partnership and coalition building, facilitation and development communication, and organization and coordination at the local and international level to the AgReach team. Having worked in the district, regional, and national levels, Clodina’s responsibilities include gender participation in agriculture, food and nutrition and agricultural training, as well as contribution to policy development and implementation, and governance of extension services in Malawi. 

Ph.D. in Livelihoods, International and Rural Development from University of Reading, UK
Master of Science in Communication for Development from University of Reading, UK
Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Education from University of Reading, UK
Diploma in Agriculture from University of Malawi, Bunda College, Malawi
Languages: Chichewa, Tumbuka, English

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Stacia NordinStacia
Nutrition Education Specialist

With 20 years of experience in international agriculture, food, nutrition and HIV within Malawi, Stacia leads and oversees activities and the technical direction related to nutrition extension for an extension strengthening project in Malawi. Stacia’s knowledge and connections with actors throughout the agricultural extension system in Malawi and beyond allows for greater relationship and network building among key nutrition policy and education platforms. Her 30 years of experience in food and nutrition has strengthened her ability to effectively educate, facilitate, and advocate within the realm of food, nutrition, and health security and collaborate effectively with stakeholders at the organizational and individual levels. Building upon her understanding of sustainable food systems, nutrition, and indigenous resources, Stacia also provides coaching, mentoring, and technical direction of the nutrition education capacity building components in both public and non-state nutrition education service providers.

Bachelor of Science in Medical Dietetics from Ohio State University
Languages: English, Chichewa

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Leon Hounnou
Research Assistant Leon Hounnou

Leon has worked with farmers on many agricultural development challenges such as crop infestation, inefficient use of pesticides, postharvest loss, food shortages due to lack of crop storage systems, and insufficient support from government during five years’ work experience as a research assistant at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), as a professional trainee at the Netherlands Organization of Development (SNV) and as an agricultural advisor at Entreprises Developpement et Territoires (ETD). He has experience working with smallholder farmers in rural areas in Benin, helping them adopt newly developed technologies and assessing the economic impact of these technologies on their living conditions. Leon also has expertise in agricultural value chain analysis and economic modelling for climate change using the Soil and Water Assessment Tools (SWAT). His research interests on the Strengthening Agricultural and Nutrition Services project are survival analysis, economic impact evaluation and spatial econometrics.

PhD student in Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University
BSc in Agricultural engineering from the University of Parakou, Benin
Languages: French, English, Adja, Mina, Fon, Goun