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.