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Meet CRS Food Security Experts

Shaun Ferris, Ph.D.—Senior Advisor, Agriculture and Environment

Shawn Ferris, Ph.D.

Shaun Ferris is Catholic Relief Services' Senior Technical Advisor, Agriculture and Environment, based in Baltimore. He provides technical assistance to CRS' programs overseas with an emphasis on agro-enterprise development. This includes developing best practices that enable poor farming communities to engage with markets more successfully. As a result, new methods are now being implemented in more than 35 countries that provide better incomes for farmers.

Dr. Ferris holds a B.S. in Horticultural Science from the University of Reading in Reading, U.K., an M.S. in Tropical and Agronomy from Nottingham University in Nottingham, U.K. and a Ph.D. in Post-Production Science from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, U.K.

While pursuing his Ph.D., Dr. Ferris spent time studying at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Syria from 1983 to 1984, and monitored post-harvest losses of plantain and banana in the western and Ashanti regions of Ghana from 1988 to 1990. He investigated the effects of storage on crop quality and the effect of edible fruit coatings at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria in 1990, and evaluated market quality standards and demand for local fruit at the University of Philippines Los Banos in 1991. From 1992 to 1995, Mr. Ferris studied fruit genetics within the banana improvement program and evaluated cropping systems at IITA.

From 1995 to 1999, he served as Regional Manager for IITA's Agro-enterprise portfolio in eastern Africa, leading a cassava rehabilitation project in Uganda and a rehabilitation project for the public research sector in Rwanda. During that time, he also assisted with the establishment of a regional post-harvest research facility for rural food security enhancement in Uganda to support activities in eastern Africa.

From 1999 to 2004, he served as Regional Coordinator for the Marketing and Postharvest Network in east and central Africa. This position focused on integrating enterprise development and market analysis into the research programs of the regional agricultural research institutions.

In 2004, Dr. Ferris joined CIAT as project manager for the Agro-enterprise Development Project, managing a portfolio of rural business projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Before joining CRS in 2007, he served as a consultant to a number of organizations and government agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Foundation for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), World Bank, and the government of Uganda.

Dr. Ferris is married and has a 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw—Director, Public Resource Group

Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw

Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw is Director of Catholic Relief Services' Public Resource Group, based in Baltimore. She is responsible for acquiring and managing financial resources and food aid provided by the U.S. and other governments for use in CRS programs around the world. She also develops training programs in resource acquisition for CRS staff, mentors staff in aspects of their work that relate to public resources and acts as a liaison between CRS and government officials and representatives of private voluntary organizations. She oversees the development of agency public policy related to foreign aid, hunger and food security.

Ms. Kuennen joined CRS in 1988 as Project Manager, and later Assistant Country Representative for Cameroon where she also oversaw projects in Chad and Equatorial Guinea. In 1989, she received one of eight CRS employee merit awards.

In 1992, she was transferred to Ethiopia as Assistant Country Representative and Head of Program Development. Over the next two years she reduced emergency assistance in Ethiopia and increased development programs. She was responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring more than 40 relief, rehabilitation and development projects.

In 1994, Ms. Kuennen was appointed CRS Public Donor Liaison for East Africa, based in Baltimore, where she was in charge of U.S. government grants for programs in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda and Sudan. In 1995, she became the Director of the Public Donor Relations Unit, responsible for maintaining key relationships at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly with Food for Peace and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. At that time, she also worked extensively with CRS staff in Burkina Faso, revising the country's Development Activities Proposal and defining educational interventions. As a result, USAID reversed its decision not to fund CRS' Burkina Faso education program.

In 1996, Ms. Kuennen became CRS' Asia Regional Team Leader, negotiating on behalf of CRS programs in Asia for public resources from the U.S. government, the European Union and other donors. She was the primary point of contact at headquarters representing nine CRS country programs in Asia and activities in an additional five countries. Among other things, she successfully advocated for CRS to develop a program in North Korea.

In 1997, she was appointed CRS Recruitment and Employment Manager for overseas and domestic staff. In 1998, she became Title II (Food for Peace) Resource Manager. Title II is the U.S. government program designed to address the causes of food insecurity among vulnerable populations. She developed CRS' capacity to acquire and manage Title II resources. She also managed the Institutional Support Assistance funds awarded to CRS by Food for Peace to improve the agency's capacity to program Title II food aid resources effectively. She then became the Director of CRS' Public Resource Group in 2002.

Ms. Kuennen has received one of ten Agency Special Recognition Awards for her outstanding contribution to the achievement of two key CRS objectives: increasing funding and responding to emergencies.

Ms. Kuennen grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, where she attended New Trier High School. She has a B.A. in Linguistics, with honors, from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. in International Business and an M.P.A. in Public Administration, both from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. From 1986 to 1988 she served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, implementing new training methods for farmers of diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.

She is married to Kifle Asfaw, an Ethiopian national who is now a U.S. citizen. A professional chef, he operates a home-based business. They have a son, Kirubel and a daughter, Israel.

Frank Orzechowski—Senior Advisor, Monetization and Commodities

Frank Orzechowski

Frank Orzechowski is Catholic Relief Services' Senior Advisor, Monetization and Commodities. In that position since 2003, he oversees the agency's monetization programs and acts as an advisor to more than a dozen countries where CRS uses monetization, a process by which U.S. food commodities are sold in local markets so that proceeds can be used for relief and development programs.

He closely monitors international markets for the price of traditional food aid commodities, including wheat, vegetable oil and rice, projects the cost of U.S. food aid, and assures that monetized commodities are sold at a fair market price. He also works closely with CRS' legislative affairs and advocacy staff, advising them on food prices as they pertain to U.S. food aid policies.

Prior to working at CRS, Mr. Orzechowski spent over 30 years with Louis Dreyfus Corporation, an international merchandising and trading company of agricultural and energy commodities. For much of his career he was stationed in Louis Dreyfus' North American headquarters in Connecticut but traveled quite extensively, primarily to Latin America.

During his years at Louis Dreyfus, he worked in all aspects of grain trading and logistics, from the procurement of grain in countries of origin to transport, storage and handling, and marketing both domestically and internationally.

In 2000, Mr. Orzechowski traveled as an advisor with the U.S. Wheat Associates, a trade group specialized in developing export markets, to Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Kenya and Jordan giving presentations on international grain trading and commodity risk management.

Mr. Orzechowski retired from Louis Dreyfus as Assistant Vice-President for International Grain Marketing in 2003.

He holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey.

Tom Remington—Principal Agriculture Advisor, Africa

Tom Remington

Tom Remington is Catholic Relief Services' Principal Agriculture Advisor for Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Serving in this role since August 2007, Mr. Remington helps coordinate the work of CRS' agriculture staff across the continent. He also plays a lead role in developing multi-country agricultural initiatives and works closely with international agricultural research centers to enhance CRS projects through partnerships and advanced research.

Previously, Mr. Remington served as CRS' Senior Technical Advisor for Agriculture in east Africa. Since 1994, he has helped CRS develop a comprehensive agricultural program that includes innovative use of vouchers and fairs to increase farmer assets, agro-enterprise initiatives that link farmers to markets to boost incomes, integration with water projects for better irrigation, and dissemination of materials and information to improve crop production.

Mr. Remington has worked in Africa for more than 30 years since 1977 when he served as an agriculture volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Mali. Prior to joining CRS, Mr. Remington worked for the University of Wisconsin in The Gambia, West African Rice Development Association in Cote d'Ivoire and Development Assistance Corporation in Togo.

Mr. Remington grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He holds a doctorate degree in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin as well as a bachelor’s degree and master's degree in Horticulture also from the University of Wisconsin. His wife Debbie Shomberg serves as CRS' Country Representative in Burkina Faso.

Bruce White—CRS Policy Advisor, Food Security and Hunger

Bruce White

Bruce White works as Policy Advisor for food security and hunger for Catholic Relief Services.

He began his career in international development as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho in 1987, working as an agricultural extension advisor with small-scale commercial vegetable growers. Following the Peace Corps, Mr. White managed a USAID-funded national home gardening and nutrition program. The program provided extension services to remote villages in mountain districts on gardening and improved maternal and child nutrition practices.

Upon his return to the United States in 1991, Mr. White worked for the Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Development on projects for Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union. He then went on to work for Congress and was responsible for the hunger portfolio for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Foreign Agriculture and Hunger under the chairmanship of Representative Tim Penny (D- Minn).

In 1995, following Congressman Penny's retirement from Congress, Mr. White went on to direct international programs for the Future Farmers of America (FFA). He eventually transferred to the National Council for Agricultural Education where he built a partnership with the Bread for the World Institute to develop a high school curriculum project on world hunger for FFA classrooms across the United States. More recently, Mr. White joined USDA and worked on AGOA regulatory issues managing programs that provided technical assistance to African countries to facilitate importation of fruits and vegetables into U.S. markets.

Mr. White holds a B.S. in Agronomy from the University of Minnesota and an M.S. in International Development from Tulane.

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