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About our first speaker, Yvonne Ochoa Rosellini

Tuesday, July 4, 2023 

Yvonne Ochoa Rosellini is a Professional Independent Board Director, expert in strategy, corporate governance and finance. She has 25 years of demonstrated history of shareholder trust as a C-Suite executive, board director and advisor to business owners who regard her as an experienced advocate with keen business judgement and a firm stand on compliant and fiduciary result-driven strategy. 

Yvonne’s bicultural and bilingual background has allowed her to serve on public and private boards in the US and Mexico. Her Board experience spans more than ten years and nineteen companies, including airlines, manufacturing, chemicals, agritech, biotech, housing, legal services, foodservice, retail, SPACs, Reits and Family Office investment committees.

She currently serves on the Board of Mexico Stock Exchange listed Viva Aerobus (airline), Grupo Pochteca (chemicals distribution) and Agrofibra (Agriculture REIT). She also serves on private company boards such as Grupo Proeza (automotive, agribusiness and healthcare), Uniken (cybersecurity) and Liventia (ag biotech).

Yvonne chairs the Board at Agrofibra and Liventia, chairs the Audit Committee at Proeza and chairs the Compensation Committee at Viva Aerobus. She serves on the Board as Treasurer for the International Association for Sustainable Economy (IASE) Mexico Chapter and on the Board of the CCME, an association of businesswomen. She was CFO for Coppel Group (+20 billion USD market value largest retailer in Mexico, largest consumer bank by debit cards and largest pension fund manager by clients), CFO for BBVA Mexico’s private label loan business (+4 billion USD) and IRO for BBVA Mexico (market cap +10 billion USD).

She has led over 60 high-impact turnaround and institutionalization projects from ConvixiĂłn, her own management consulting firm, for companies of all sizes in seventeen industries and is co-founder and CEO of Keat, a health business which is one of six companies she has built and scaled. She also has extensive experience in public and private equity and debt financing with over 2 billion dollars in transactions.

Yvonne is a frequently sought-out speaker on issues of strategic thinking, leadership, corporate governance and women on boards and has been listed on several occasions as one of the Most Powerful Women in Mexico by Forbes and ExpansiĂłn.

She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a degree in international relations from the Instituto TecnolĂłgico AutĂłnomo de MĂ©xico (ITAM).

Read about Yvonne’s professional journey: Closing the gender leadership gap: The power of women role models

About our second speaker, Altagracia GĂłmez Sierra

July 18, 2023 

Altagracia Gómez Sierra is chair of Grupo Empresarial PEO (Promotora Empresarial Occidental) and chair of the Board of Directors at Grupo MINSA. Altagracia obtained a law degree with three honorable mentions from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico. Altagracia also completed various academic programs at the Royal Academy of Oxford, where she studied British Law. She recently completed two courses in finance and negotiation at Harvard Business School.

Altagracia was previously the CEO of Grupo Empresarial G, where she continues to serve as secretary of the Board of Directors, deputy general manager of Almer, and lead of the conglomerate’s energy division. She has dedicated her career to manage investment projects in new sectors that catalyze sustainable development. She also hosts the weekly television program “Prospecciones” on channel 7 Jalisco, where, together with the State Secretary of Education Alfonso GĂłmez and various distinguished guests, she discusses topics of economic interest to the people of Jalisco.

Read Altagracia’s session recap article: Set an example of how to thrive

About our third speaker, Catherine Bertini 

August 15, 2023 

Accomplished leader in international organization reform and a powerful advocate for women and girls

Catherine Bertini has a distinguished career improving the efficiency and operations of organizations serving poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world. She was named the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for her transformational leadership at the World Food Programme (WFP), which she led for ten years, and for the positive impact she had on the lives of women.

While in the U.S. government, she expanded the electronic benefit transfer options for food stamp beneficiaries, created the food package for breastfeeding mothers, presented the first effort to picture healthy diets and expanded education and training opportunities for poor women. Learn more about Catherine here: https://www.catherinebertini.com/.

Read about the fireside chat with Catherine Bertini and Natalia Palacios where interesting insights and experiences were exchanged: Women leaders in science: reaching out to break through

About our fourth speaker, Lindiwe Sibanda 

August 29, 2023 

Lindiwe Sibanda is an animal scientist and a practicing farmer with extensive experience, serving as a policy advisor to numerous African governments and global institutions. 

Sibanda is an extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She currently serves as a member of the Nestle S.A. Board, as chair of the One CGIAR System Board, and chair of the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. Until December 2022, she served as the director and chair of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Pretoria, South Africa as well as Board member of World Vegetable Center.

She has also worked in senior leadership positions in various international organizations, including as vice-president country support, Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and CEO and head of mission of the pan-African Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).

Sibanda holds a PhD in agriculture sciences, specialized in animal nutrition, an MSc in agriculture grassland science from the University of Reading, and a BSc in animal production from the University of Alexandria, Egypt.

She was appointed to the CGIAR System Board in April 2021, and has served as the Chair since January 1, 2023.

Read all about Lindiwe’s session: Show that you can thrive and excel in all environments

About our fifth speaker: Diane Holdorf 

September 12, 2023

Diane Holdorf is executive vice president and a member of the Senior Management Team at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Diane joined WBCSD in December 2018 as managing director of Food and Nature where she led business efforts to accelerate the system transformation in the areas of food, nature, and water. In October 2021, Diane took the role of executive vice president (EVP) for Pathways.

In her role as EVP, Diane focuses on the Pathways as part of WBCSD’s strategy, leading business efforts to accelerate collaborative solutions in Food and Agriculture, Energy, Products & Materials, Mobility and Built Environment, and Health and Wellbeing–working in partnership to deliver business solutions for the Imperatives and Redefining Value Program pillars.

Before joining WBCSD, Diane was vice president and chief sustainability officer at Kellogg. Prior to joining Kellogg Company, Diane served as vice president for Delta Consultants (now Antea), a global environment, health and safety and sustainability consulting firm. During her 17 years with Delta Consultants, she served in numerous management and consulting roles, based in the US and in the UK, where she worked with many consumer-packaged goods, forest products and manufacturing companies in development and implementation of global programs for sustainability, environmental management, and risk management.

In 2022, Diane was selected as one of the 25 Badass Women shaping climate action by GreenBiz. In 2015, Diane was recognized as a Maize and Wheat Super Woman by CIMMYT as part of the United Nation’s International Women’s Day commemoration. She is also recognized as an Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassador.

Diane holds a bachelor’s degree in public communications and German from Syracuse University. She also completed an Executive MBA at the University of St. Thomas. Diane is an active Twitter/X user and can be found sharing her perspectives at @DianeBHoldorf and her LinkedIn can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/diane-holdorf

Discover Diane’s professional trajectory: Say yes, and figure out what gives you energy

About our sixth speaker: Ismahane Elouafi 

September 26, 2023 

Ismahane Elouafi is currently chief scientist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Her current position was newly created within FAO’s core leadership structure to lead FAO’s science and innovation agenda, to ensure that the organization applies modern science and technologies, and to adopt innovative approaches in management of resources, projects and programs.

Prior to her chief scientist role at FAO, Elouafi was director general at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture based in the United Arab Emirates. In this role, she spearheaded the development and implementation of the center’s long-term strategy and expanded its mandate to marginal environments, an agroecosystem concept which she helped to mainstream in the global research and development discourse.

Elouafi holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and a master’s degree in genetics and plant breeding from the Hassan II Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine in Morocco. She obtained a doctoral degree in genetics from the University of Cordoba in Spain.

The session recap is coming soon!

About our seventh speaker: Esther Ndumi Ngumbi

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 

Esther Ndumi Ngumbi is a Kenyan entomologist and academic. Esther Ngumbi grew up in Kwale County, a rural farming community in Kenya. She was introduced to farming at the age of seven, when her parents gave her a strip of land to cultivate cabbages. As a child she became aware of the challenges that farmers faced, including drought and bad soils. The first time she left her village was to attend Kenyatta University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2007 she was awarded the American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowship that allowed her to complete a doctoral degree in entomology at Auburn University. After earning her PhD, she remained at Auburn University as a postdoctoral scholar.

Ngumbi teaches entomology, African American studies and science communication. Her research focuses on the way that herbivores, plants, microorganisms and insects make use of volatile and non-volatile chemical signals. These include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that mediate conversations between plants, herbivores and microbes. Ngumbi has been recognized by a number of groups for her contributions to science and public engagement. In 2018, she was awarded the Society for Experimental Biology’s President’s Medal; in 2019, she was invited to give the plenary lecture at the British Ecological Society annual meeting; and in 2021, Ngumbi was awarded the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Learn more about Esther: I cannot do it alone

About our eighth speaker: Usha Barwale Zehr

Tuesday, November 7, 2023 

Usha Barwale Zehr is the Director and Chief Technology Officer of Mahyco Private Limited (MAHYCO), India. She has been using new technologies and tools, including biotechnology, to improve the quality and productivity of seeds and agriculture for 20 years. Dr. Zehr is also a director of the Barwale Foundation, a non-profit research foundation, and serves on the boards of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.

Mahyco focuses on research and development, production, processing and marketing of seeds for Indian farmers. Founded in 1964, Mahyco pioneered high quality hybrid and open-pollinated seeds through the use of cutting-edge technology and intensive research activities.

Dr. Zehr’s work in plant biotechnology aims to bring new technologies to the developing world. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she worked in tissue culture and transformation. His group at the University of Illinois was the first to develop a soybean regeneration system. He also worked as a geneticist at Purdue University, studying sorghum and millet and focusing on the use of plant biotechnology to improve agricultural production. As a result of his work at Purdue University, the first transgenic sorghum plant was produced.

The session recap is coming soon!

About our ninth speaker: Swati Nayak 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Swati Nayak is a scientist and South Asia lead for Seed Systems with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a CGIAR Research Center. She holds the prestigious title of the 2023 Borlaug Field Award recipient from the World Food Prize Foundation. She also serves as the cereal seed system work package lead in the CGIAR Global Initiative SeedEqual. 

Nayak, who is currently based out of India, and her team were congratulated for their significant work in Seed Systems by the Government of Bangladesh. Nayak is a lead scientist in IRRI’s Rice Breeding Innovation Platform, specializing in devising and executing scaling, access and adoption strategies for various promising climate-resilient, high-yielding and nutrition-rich crop varieties and germplasm across diverse market segments and ecologies. Her approach is aligned with the preferences of farmers, gendered choices, social equity in seed access and also with the demands of value chain stakeholders and consumer needs. She is dedicated to ensuring delivery of genetic gain of potential varieties in farmers’ fields and facilitating the development of seed markets to ensure the availability of high-quality seeds of desired crop varieties to farmers across locations.

Through her diligent strategic efforts, partnerships and innovative positioning models, she has successfully introduced numerous climate-resilient rice varieties in South Asia, contributing towards sustainable agriculture. Nayak holds a Ph.D. in competitive intelligence for agricultural extension management strategy, a master’s degree in rural management from the Institute of Rural Management and Bachelor of Science in agriculture. 

The session recap is coming soon!

About our tenth speaker: Carolina Trivelli 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Senior Researcher at Instituto de Estudios Peruanos


Carolina Trivelli served as the Minister of Development and Social Inclusion of Peru from 2011 – 2013. She has also worked as a consultant for various international organizations and advisor to private and civil society organizations. In Peru, Carolina is a counselor in the Fiscal Council (MEF) and member of the advisory commission for the Estimation of Poverty of the INEI. She is a member of the Board of Directors of REDES (Development Studies Network), Instituto Bicentenario, Sanima, a social enterprise, and IPAE.

She is a columnist for El Comercio y GestiĂłn. Carolina also serves in the advisory committees of the ID4D initiative (World Bank), MOSIP (India) and the Alliance of Economic Inclusion (PEI).

Carolina holds a master’s degree in agrarian economics from Pennsylvania State University and a degree in economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). 

The session recap is coming soon!

About our eleventh speaker, Louise Fresco 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Distinguished agricultural researcher, leader, author and advisor

Louise Fresco is a recognized global leader in food and agriculture science. She was president of Wageningen University and Research from 2014 to 2022. Louis is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain, a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, a foreign member of the French Academy of Agriculture, and also a foreign member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.

Louise worked at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from 1997 to 2006 as director of research, extension and training and assistant director general. While at FAO, she dealt with climate change, food science and soil health.

Louise obtained a Ph.D. in tropical agronomy (cum laude) from Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 2023 for her important role in shaping public dialogue on sustainable food production.

The recap is coming soon!