The Partnership for Gender Equity leverages diverse expertise and wisdom from a vibrant team of professionals who share a deep commitment to our mission.
Kimberly Easson: Founder and CEO, PGE
For more than twenty years, Kimberly Easson has dedicated herself to improving the lives of small-scale farmers, particularly in coffee and for women. While at CQI she oversaw a multi-year USAID funded project in Ethiopia to strengthen coffee sector institutions and increase linkages to high value markets. Previously, as the Director of Producer Services and Relations at Fairtrade International in Bonn, Germany, she held responsibility for producer capacity building services for over one million Fairtrade producers in 63 countries. Her efforts with Fairtrade over nearly fifteen years were instrumental in securing high value market linkages for producer organizations with traders, manufacturers and retailers in the US, Canada and Europe. She served four years as member of the Board of Directors of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), co-founded the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and the JavaJog for a Cause, which has raised more than $90,000 for women in coffee producing communities.
Nora Burkey: Programs and research advisor, PGE
Nora Burkey joined the PGE team in May 2016, helping to build strategy and develop proposals for our work in 2017. She supported the creation of PGE’s Project Methodology and Common Measurement Framework, and is continuing to ensure that PGE can inspire and engage industry members to take action on gender and generational equity through heading up research initiatives and program management. Nora holds a master's degree in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute, where she focused on gender and food systems and conducted research on women’s lending groups in Nicaraguan coffee cooperatives. Nora is also the founder of The Chain Collaborative, which focuses on small community-led development projects with local leaders in coffee communities around the world..
In addition, PGE works with a strategic array of consultants in the coffee industry and development sector to complement our staff expertise in the design and implementation of key programs. PGE also counts on staff support from the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) as the founding organization and fiscal sponsor. CQI operational staff support key areas of PGE financial, grant and administrative management.
Board of Directors
Cristina Manfre: President
Global Gender Director, Technoserve
Cristina Manfre is a gender and development specialist with ten years of experience improving development organizations’ attention to gender issues in economic growth, agriculture and trade programming. She now works as a Global Gender Director as Techoserve, and was previously a Senior Associate with Cultural Practice, LLC. She has guided organizational change efforts on gender integration for a number of institutions including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Lutheran World Relief, and USAID for the Feed the Future Initiative. With the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) project, she is developing a tool to assess the gender-responsiveness of agricultural technologies. In addition to technical assistance, she conducts gender-related training and research in the areas of agriculture and natural resource management, value chain development, and micro and small enterprise development. Her most recent work includes research on gender dimensions of ICT in agricultural development, extension and advisory services, agricultural value chains (e.g., cotton, soybean, groundnut, and dairy), and behavior change in agricultural value chains. She is co-author of USAID’s “Promoting Gender Equitable Opportunities in Agricultural Value Chains: A Handbook.”
Ms. Manfre has a M.Sc. in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College in French and Spanish.
Catherine Gill, Treasurer
Managing Director, ALIGN Program, Northeastern University
Catherine is Managing Director for the ALIGN Program at Northeastern University. ALIGN’s mission is to make computer science degrees accessible to those traditionally underrepresented in computing, thereby opening up the talent pipeline for careers in technology. Prior to that, she was executive vice president at Root Capital, an agricultural lender that provides loans and advisory services to agricultural businesses in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In that position, she oversaw philanthropic fundraising, impact investing and communications. In addition, Catherine played a leadership role in the development of Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture Initiative, through which the organization partners with gender-inclusive businesses across its portfolio.
Prior to joining Root Capital, Catherine spent ten years in the Community Development Financial Institution industry, at both the Nonprofit Finance Fund and the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation. Catherine holds a bilingual M.B.A from the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa in Barcelona, and a B.A. in ancient Greek from Wellesley College.
J. Zoë Beckerman, JD MPH, Secretary
Owner, zoe beckerman consulting
Zoë has worked on public health, health care, education and legal/regulatory matters for the past 2 decades. An attorney and public health analyst by training, through Zoë Beckerman Consulting LLC, Zoë helps craft strategies, strengthen systems, and address solutions for education, health and social services organizations. For the past 12 years as a lawyer, she has worked with hundreds of non-profits advising and counseling on governance, non-profit formation, federal grants matters, and strategic decision-making. She currently teaches an introduction to public health course at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. She has also taught public health ethics, leadership and advocacy at George Mason University and developed and taught the first federal grants law course at the George Washington University Law School. In 2015, she left a prominent Washington, DC law firm as Partner and Managing Principal of the firm’s consulting arm.
She now leads her own consulting firm: www.zoebeckerman.com
Chisara Ehiemere: Business Director, Field to Market - The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture
Leveraging over 20 years of experience in sustainable agriculture and an extensive background in supply chain management in other industries, Chisara is responsible for the design and implementation of Field to Market’s assurance processes. Prior to Field to Market, Chisara was the Vice President of Certification at Fair Trade USA where she created and implemented certification strategies for agricultural supply chains to improve farmer and worker livelihoods, improve environmental outcomes, and increase transparency in sourcing. Chisara was also a management consultant, designing procurement and supply chain management strategies across multiple industries. Chisara holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Duke University.
Norissa Giangola: Partner, Coqui Marketing
A veteran marketing & communications strategist who believes passionately that business should create real value for communities and the environment, Norissa's marketing & communications work has taken her from the Amazon (that's not Amazon.com, but the forest) to the board rooms of big-brand companies like Procter & Gamble, Fannie Mae, and Coca-Cola and mission-driven marketers like The World Health Organization, United States Pharmacopeia, and World Wildlife Federation. She began her career as an entrepreneur in consumer products, growing the largest organic consumer foods producer in the Andes, Agua-Y-Sol. There, she learned much about branding, marketing, and communications at a domestic and international level. She also armed herself with ‘marketing dos and don’ts’ from her ventures in eco-tourism and a not-so-successful venture into chicken farming. Norissa started SaludMujer!, an Amazon-based non-profit that educated rural women and sex-workers about HIV. After returning to the U.S., Norissa went on to lead New Ventures, a group that fosters the creation of environmental enterprises, worldwide.
Norissa is a now a partner at Coqui Marketing where she leads the Strategy and Communications practice.
Cheryl Morden: International Fund for Agriculture Development, ROME
Cheryl Morden is the Secretary of IFAD, ad interim. Previously, she served as Deputy Director of Partnership and Resource Mobilization and Chief of the North American Liaison Office of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In that capacity, she helped to set strategic direction for IFAD’s partnership and resource mobilization and oversaw implementation of policies and procedures to realize IFAD’s objectives in this area. Prior to joining IFAD in 2004, she served as Director of Policy and Communications for the International Center for Research on Women. Until 1998, she was the Associate Director for Development Policy for Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief. She has over 30 years of experience in international development policy analysis and advocacy and has managed policy advocacy initiatives and education and mobilization campaigns and initiatives on a variety of international development issues. She has had a career-long focus on agriculture and rural development issues and also has expertise on issues related to development assistance and resource mobilization and gender and development. She has served on the boards of numerous development organizations. She holds a master’s degree in international development education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Aartia Ramachandran: Head of research/Corporate Engagement, FAIRR Initiative
Aarti joined FAIRR Initiative as Head of Research & Corporate Engagement in April 2017. The FAIRR initiative is an institutional investor network that ensures investors understand the risks and opportunities in livestock production and works to help investors assess these issues as part of their investment processes.
Prior to this, Aarti was client director at a global sustainability firm, where she helped companies build strategic initiatives and partnerships to deliver sustainable growth and improve corporate reputation. From 2006-2011, she also served as ExxonMobil’s public and government affairs advisor for the west region, where she developed and delivered the company’s advocacy and community investment strategy. In addition to her corporate experience, she has worked with two environmental non-profits and on short-term consulting assignments for the U.S. Treasury and GE Capital.
Aarti holds a MA in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a MS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University. She has worked in Europe, US and India, and speaks three languages.
Samantha Veide, Associate Director, US, Forum for the Future
Samantha Veide has spent 20+ years working in the coffee industry, beginning her career as a barista and most recently working on the Mars Drinks’ Innovation Leadership team to build the company’s sustainability credentials. Samantha is known for her ability to collaborate across diverse populations to build strong interpersonal and business relationships. She has a talent for connecting seemingly disparate ideas to find the "big picture" in a mass of data; and, for distilling these ideas and data into clear messages and actions. She has built a reputation for creating communications, meetings, and various learning opportunities that touch people and inspire them to take action. She believes in the power of volunteerism and has been an active and enthusiastic volunteer in the specialty coffee industry, serving on several boards, advisory councils and committees. Her professional background is in Learning & Development, Sustainability and Business Strategy. She is a devoted lover of coffee with some of her most professionally rewarding experiences having come in a cupping lab, on a coffee farm, or in a classroom helping sales professionals appreciate both of these aforementioned aspects of the value chain.