Vance Russell serves as the Board Chair for Groundswell International. Vance is a Wildlands and Climate Change Consultant, providing a variety of services including biodiversity assessment and habitat forecasting, climate change adaptation strategies, sustainable fundraising, and approaches to landscape-scale conservation. Vance served as the California Director of Programs for the National Forest Foundation where he managed, led and funded community forestry projects throughout the state, and prior to that he was director of Audubon California’s Landowner Stewardship Program working with farmers and ranchers throughout California to restore habitat in a manner compatible with existing agricultural operations. Vance has more than 28 years of experience working in agriculture and natural resources management and is a founding member of the Wild Farm Alliance.
D. Merrill Ewert is the Vice Board Chair for Groundswell International. Merrill holds a B.A. from Tabor College, and an M.A. in anthropology and Ph.D. in adult education from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Merrill’s career combines relief and development (7 years in Africa), with teaching, research and administration in higher education. With a focus on learning and the facilitation of community development, Merrill completed a Fulbright fellowship researching the role of farmers’ organizations in building social capital in the Philippines. He served for 12 years as the Director of Cooperative Extension and Associate Dean for Outreach for the Colleges of Agriculture and Human Ecology at Cornell University and rounded out his career as President of Fresno Pacific University in California where he is President Emeritus. Merrill retired to the Phoenix area where he continues writing, speaking and consulting on higher education and international relief and development.
Mark Stone teaches mindfulness and meditation to the underserved in Washington D.C. and serves as Groundswell International’s Board Treasurer. Previously, Mark was the Deputy Chief Economist and Acting Chief Economist of the United States Department of State and held various positions during a long career at the International Monetary Fund. He holds a B.Sc., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, and an M.Sc. in Developmental Economics from the London School of Economics. Mark has written many books and journal articles on international economics and finance. He also serves as President of the Board of All Beings Zen Sangha, is an active member of the Insight on the Inside meditation community and conducts research on mindfulness teaching.
B. Jan Middendorf serves as Groundswell International’s Board Secretary. She is the Associate Director for Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) at Kansas State University (KSU). In this role, Dr. Middendorf conducts research and leads SIIL’s impact assessment and monitoring and evaluation efforts. She is also responsible for establishing and maintaining effective partnerships with other U.S. and international institutions, industry, USAID Missions and developmental partners. Prior, Dr. Middendorf was Program Director of Project and Program Evaluation in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) for the National Science Foundation (NSF). She also served for ten years as director of an evaluation center at KSU. Dr. Middendorf has over 25 years of experience in project development, management, implementation and evaluation of multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programs and projects in national and international settings. Dr. Middendorf earned her Ph.D. from KSU after completing her Master’s and Bachelor’s from Ohio University and University of Rhode Island, respectively.
Afua Bruce is the Chief Program Officer of DataKind, a nonprofit that works with volunteers and organizations across the world to harness the power of data science in service of humanity. Afua was previously the Director of Engineering for the Public Interest Technology program at New America, where she oversaw projects in criminal justice reform, foster care, immigration, and more. Previously, she spent several years leading science and technology strategy and program management in the Federal government—as the Executive Director of the White House’s National Science and Technology Council and in a variety of positions at the FBI. Afua holds a degree in Computer Engineering from Purdue University, and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Bhadra Durgabakshi is a Board Member of Groundswell International and serves on its Program Committee. Bhadra has over 25 years of experience in international development. She works at the World Bank in budgeting and finance and has worked extensively in the Africa Region. Bhadra lived in Mozambique for two years, where she became interested in community development using sustainable solutions with locally grown products. Bhadra holds an M.Sc in Management with a specialization in Nonprofit and Association Management, and an MBA from the University of Maryland. Bhadra worked as a journalist for a leading English language newspaper “The Island” in Colombo, Sri Lanka, before migrating to the United States.
Cantave Jean-Baptiste serves as Groundswell International’s Board Liaison for Latin America and the Caribbean. Cantave is a Haitian agronomist and rural development practitioner with over 30 years of experience supporting rural development, agriculture and sustainability, as well as strengthening peasant organizations. He is also the Executive Director of Partenariat pour le Développement Local (PDL), Groundswell’s partner organization in Haiti. Before creating PDL, Cantave worked with Caritas (Gonaives and Hinche) from 1981 to 1991 as sustainable agriculture program coordinator, and then from 1995-2009 as the national director of World Neighbors Haiti. Cantave holds a degree from the College of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine, State University in Haiti. He speaks English, Haitian Creole, Spanish and French. Since 2014, Cantave has attended the Opportunity Collaboration annual meeting which convenes global leaders to promote innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Prof. Elizabeth Kucinich is a Board Member of Groundswell International. Elizabeth is an international consultant and public affairs specialist with a sincere drive to bring social, economic, energy, health, agricultural and ecological systems into balance. She works with public, private and non-profit sectors to advance regenerative, whole-systems strengths-based approaches to human and ecological security. Elizabeth has an extensive background in public policy, politics and international relations. She is a European Commission appointee to the Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil and was a producer of the award-winning documentaries, GMO OMG and Hot Water.
Fatou Batta serves as Groundswell International’s Board Liaison for West Africa. Fatou is one of Groundswell’s co-founders and also the founder of Association Nourrir Sans Détruire (ANSD), Groundswell’s local partner in Burkina Faso. Until 2009, Fatou worked for over 15 years as the World Neighbors’ Area Representative for West Africa, overseeing all aspects of strategy, programs and management for the region. Prior to joining World Neighbors, she held several positions with the government of her native Burkina Faso, where she helped to develop family planning policy and planned and administered projects sponsored by international agencies. Fatou received her MPH from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. She completed her undergraduate work at School of Technical Education in Paris and holds a diploma in participatory development at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
Jay Slaughter is a Management Consultant and President of JBS and Associates, based in Alexandria, VA. He is an accomplished executive with extensive experience in finance, management, operations, strategic thinking, governance and fiduciary oversight. Jay held various positions with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), Washington, DC, from 1996-2014, and most recently as the Executive Director of Business and Plan Operations (2009-14). In that position, he was responsible for Executive Oversight of the Federal Employee Program’s Project Management Office, responsible for five million lives and related medical insurance claims. Jay lives in Arlington, VA, enjoys travel, and is committed to diversity, inclusion and sustainable development.
Jeannette M.E. Tramhel is a Senior Legal Officer of the Department of International Law, Secretary for Legal Affairs, of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Washington, DC, where she is responsible for projects that promote the rule of law and law reform in OAS member states and for managing technical assistance projects and field missions. Jeannette is passionate about Food Justice and has done research and work on the issue as an agricultural economist, international lawyer, and environmental planner working in the field of international development. Prior professional experience includes as an environmental and international development consultant, project coordinator and professor of law in her native Canada and the U.S. Jeannette holds a Master of Law from Georgetown University, a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a Master of Environmental Design. She is a member of the bar in Ontario, Canada, and the State of New York. Jeannette joined the Groundswell International Board of Directors in 2019 and current serves as chair of the Resource Development Committee.
Muthusami Kumaran is the Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management & Community Organizations, Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, University of Florida. He teaches courses on various aspects of nonprofit and NGO management. His areas of research interest include: nonprofit capacity building, roles and impacts of NGOs, community development and civic engagement, and environmental justice. Prior to his academic career, Kumaran worked for a nonprofit organization and a state government agency. He has assisted numerous nonprofits in the USA and NGOs in six countries to increase thier organizational capacity development. Muthusami has published articles, book chapters and presented several research papers related to the nonprofit and NGO sectors.
Margaret (Peg) Malloy is an associate broker with a residential real estate firm in Oklahoma City and has been in the residential business for over 25 years. She has been a member of a number of organizations including the Junior League of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Zoological Society, National Society of Colonial Dames of America – where she currently serves as the Oklahoma President, and was president of the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council and sat on the Board of World Neighbors. Peg is also a trained facilitator and has worked with companies and non-profit boards. She is an avid traveler. Long interested in sustainability, Peg is a founding member of the Environmental, Health and Sustainability Commission in her local incorporated town. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in English. Peg has one daughter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Tim LaSalle champions his science-based hope for a regenerative food system that will mitigate climate change by sequestering 100% of the current emissions and provide the most robust ecologically regenerative method to feeding a growing world population. Tim is currently the Co-founder and Co-director of the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at Chico State University. LaSalle previously served as the first CEO of Rodale Institute, Executive Director of the Northwest Earth Institute, Executive Director of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management, and he was consultant, advisor, and research coordinator for the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in Africa on soils and food security for smallholder farmers. While serving as a professor at California Polytechnic State University, he also started and operated his own dairy farm and became involved with the California Agricultural Leadership Program. As its CEO, he arranged educational leadership programs in more than 80 countries with heads of state, ministers, community leaders, and he personally became exposed to and a student of many of humanity’s global challenges.
In Memoriam: Edwin Naylor, (Honorary Member), was Groundswell’s first Board Chair in 2009, and was instrumental in shaping our founding bylaws and governance structure based on principles of international partnership. He passed away in 2018 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Ed brought over 50 years of organizational management experience and passion for social justice and community development to Groundswell. His experience includes over 16 years serving as President/CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Washington, DC (1987-1995) and Executive Director/CEO of Lutheran Social Ministry of the Southwest, Phoenix, AZ (1978-1987). In 1995 Mr. Naylor retired to found The Naylor Group with his wife Sarah Naylor, offering consultation services to non-profit organizations from 18 states in the U.S. He helped to found the Verde Food Council, a collaboration of four food banks in the Verde Valley of Arizona. We are grateful to Ed for helping to plant the seeds of Groundswell International.