Meet the Team

Paul E. McNamara, Ph.D., Director, University of Illinois (LinkedIn)
Paul has been involved in international development activities since 1982, working with communities across Western and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America. His focus lies in extension, consumer, health, and agricultural economics and rural development in the context of international development, research, education, and business. Besides INGENAES, Paul directs the USAID-funded Strengthening Agricultural and Nutrition Extension (SANE) Project in Malawi and teaches courses in Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Nutritional Sciences as a professor at the University of Illinois.
Andrea Bohn, Associate Director, University of Illinois (LinkedIn)
Andrea has worked in the field of international development for the past two decades, including working at CIMMYT in Mexico and applying her skills at in curricular reform and innovation in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Hohenheim in her home country of Germany. Before coming on board as the manager of the MEAS project, she ran international education programs for students at the University of Illinois. Andrea’s experience spans many country lines, with strong connections in Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Latin America, and Europe. She has worked with extension implementers, policy makers, and extensionists worldwide through the USAID-funded MEAS project, connecting people with resources and training for strengthening agricultural growth and sustainability.


Kathleen Colverson, Associate Director, University of Florida (LinkedIn)
Kathy has over 20 years of experience with gender analysis, assessments, publications, and evaluations in east Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the United States. She has over 25 years of experience in formal and non-formal education, working notably with small and limited resource farmers and communities to create sustainable practices in production, marketing, and gender equitable project planning. Kathy is an experienced workshop facilitator for diverse groups of people, teaching several workshops on integrating gender in extension and gender equity in access to agricultural resources, most recently in Mozambique and Thailand. Within these same themes Kathy has produced a number of publications for worldwide use on the topic of gender in agriculture. She has a background in livestock production and value chain development. Kathy also works as a professor at the University of Florida.

Kristy Cook, Ph.D., Associate Director, Cultural Practice, LLC (LinkedIn)
Kristy has worked in international development for more than 20 years providing cross-sectoral integration in strategies, programs, and monitoring and evaluation. She is an agricultural economist and has worked with international development organizations to improve equitable gender and nutrition practices in agricultural communities, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, she is Associate Director for INGENAES and Senior Technical Advisor at the private consulting firm, Cultural Practice, LLC.

DeeDeborah Rubin, Ph.D., Cultural Practice, LLC (LinkedIn)
Deborah is a senior social development analyst focusing on gender analysis, helping to integrate gender-sensitive framework, policies, and practices in programs for USAID and other development organizations. She has significant experience working with communities in Tanzania and Kenya, gaining in-depth knowledge of the lives of rural men and women. Deborah has served as a team leader for gender assessments and gender trainings throughout her career, with her overall efforts focusing on improving gender integration in development. She recently developed a training program to integrate gender into agricultural value chains for USAID and published a handbook on the methodology. Deborah is also Director of the private women-led consulting firm in Washington, D.C., Cultural Practice, LLC.

Mark Bell, Ph.D., University of California, Davis (LinkedIn)
Mark Bell, University of California , Davis.Mark has spent the bulk of his career living and working internationally. Originally from Australia, he worked 10 years at CIMMYT (in Mexico) and 10 years at IRRI (in the Philippines) before moving to California and UCD about (wait for it) 10 years ago. Originally trained as a Soil Scientist and Agronomist, his interests have expanded to working with national and international partners on how we better communicate with farmers so they get the information they need. Thus, much of his current work involves both newer (ICT) and traditional approaches to extension as he continues working internationally with the aim to help farmers better access credible, relevant, and useful information.
Sandra RussoSandra Russo, Ph.D., University of Florida
Sandra has been working in international development for over 30 years, beginning in 1981 in sub-Saharan Africa and working across northern Africa and the Middle East. She has experience in agronomy and animal sciences, water resources, and agricultural innovations for smallholder farmers. Sandra also currently works in gender research and natural resources at the University of Florida and has focused for much of her professional life on working with higher education institutions and international development projects to share ways to increase food security and sustainability.


Nargiza Ludgate, University of Florida (LinkedIn)
Nargiza has over 15 years of experience in agricultural development in Central Asia. She worked with smallholder farmers and large-scale cotton and wheat producers to develop agribusiness opportunities, rehabilitate irrigation and drainage infrastructure, and to develop water users associations, and public-private partnerships. Nargiza has also worked on social network analysis and capacity building of rural, community-based, largely women-led organizations in Jordan. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Florida, specializing in agricultural water economics and gender research.

Cristina ManfreCristina Manfre, Cultural Practice, LLC (LinkedIn)
Cristina is a gender and development specialist focusing on assisting implementing organizations to improve attention to gender in agricultural value chains. Cristina has experience leading and managing gender and economic growth programs in Kenya, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, as well as conducting gender-related research and training in agriculture and natural resource management, value chain development, and micro and small enterprise development.

CaitlynCaitlin Nordehn, Cultural Practice, LLC (LinkedIn)
Caitlin is a development practitioner providing technical and administrative support on agriculture, health, and gender-focused activities. She has also supported knowledge management activities and conducted research on internationally focused organization development activities. Along with Cristina Manfre, Caitlin has experience analyzing the role of information and communication technologies in delivering agricultural information to men and women farmers in Kenya.

Nikki Grey Rutamu, University of California, Davis (LinkedIn)
With more than ten years of international development experience focused in Latin America and East Africa, Nikki works largely on projects centered around public health, education, and agriculture. She is especially interested in capacity building at the community level, employing multidisciplinary techniques to address community-identified needs. Using her talents of leadership and training, Nikki has managed many projects intended to grow communities both in and outside of the US; she led a project in Rwanda to help a women’s group open their own successful business, then established a training and mentoring program to ensure its sustainability. Nikki also co-manages the Humphrey Fellowship Program at UC Davis, providing program planning and management, academic and professional development training and mentoring for professionals from developing and emerging economies.

joyous-pix-for-casJoyous S. Tata,
 Ph.D., University of Illinois (LinkedIn)
Joyous holds a PhD from Cornell University in horticulture and international agricultural development including the role of women in agriculture. Prior to doctoral studies, she worked as Agricultural Extension Officer with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded project, working with men and women farmers in Cameroon. In addition, Joyous has skills in capacity building, food security and nutrition, monitoring and evaluation, research-extension linkages, Integrative Communication Technologies (ICTs), public-private sector extension, project planning, and certification and standards (global GAP). Her current research for the USAID-MEAS project with Dr. McNamara looks at challenges in the adoption of ICTs, videos, and adaptive institutional arrangements for modernizing agricultural extension in Africa, paying close attention to the differential challenges faced by men and women.

Hashem Zanaty, University of Florida (LinkedIn)
Hashem has 6 years of experience with the UF Center for African Studies in post-award administration of a $1.26 million grant from the United States Department of Defense and a $0.6 million grant from USAID. He was awarded two merit-based full scholarships to study in Canada and Scotland, and has extensive international work experience, including positions at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and in multinational corporations in Dubai and Miami. Hashem is a native Arabic speaker, fluent in French, and holds an MSc degree in International Marketing from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
Bhawna Thapa, Ph.D., University of Florida
Bhawna began her work in rural agricultural development with various non-governmental organizations in Nepal and India, which encouraged her to continue with programs that foster partnerships between university faculty and students with Feed-the-Future country partners. Bhawna also currently works with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Edye Kuyper cropped shotEdye Kuyper University of California, Davis (LinkedIn)
Edye provides nutrition leadership to the INGENAES project. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Mauritania, and upon returning to the United States, worked as a community organizer and nutrition educator with local, regional, statewide and national projects. These experiences shape her commitment to holistic and participatory approaches for improving community health and nutrition. Edye holds an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis.

Kathryn Heinz, University of Illinois (LinkedIn)
Kathryn has experience working with several organizations focusing on international human rights advocacy and agricultural and community development. Kathryn has been creating content for and managing project blogs, newsletters, and other external communication materials for online and print publications since 2010 and has worked largely with communities in Latin America. Kathryn has a background in global studies and environmental sustainability with the University of Illinois.

Maria JonesMaria Jones, Project SpecialistUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Maria has been studying and working internationally since 2010. She has a mixed background in engineering and business, with experience working in three different continents developing sustainable solutions for subsistence communities and imparting marketplace literacy training to women. Maria is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois.