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CIMMYT to Hold Board of Trustees Meeting in Beijing

August 27, 2014

El Batán, Mexico, 27 August 2014 – The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) will hold its fall Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting 21-24 September in Beijing, China. “At its Beijing meeting, the Board will continue its mission to improve the governance and management functions at CIMMYT through extensive discussions with the Management Committee and key staff. The Board will also provide advice and direction, drawing on the extensive experience of Board members from their work in international public and private organizations,” announced Dr. John Snape, Chair of CIMMYT’s BoT. “Additionally, the Board looks forward to gaining perspectives on CIMMYT’s work in China through interactions with our CIMMYT colleagues based in China, and with members of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and other Chinese government and research organizations.”

A CIMMYT-China reception will be held on 24 September at the Beijing Friendship Hotel, which will include an overview of research progress at CIMMYT by Director General Dr. Thomas Lumpkin as well as an “Outstanding CIMMYT Alumnus” award ceremony and reception. Memoranda of understanding will be signed with Henan Agricultural University and Lixiahe Agricultural Institute during the event.

A meeting of the governance bodies of the CIMMYT-led CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on MAIZE and WHEAT will also be held in Beijing prior to the CIMMYT Board of Trustees meeting, on 18-19 September. “The second phase of the CRPs, which starts in 2017, will be discussed as well as changes in how the Programs will be governed,” stated Victor Kommerell, program manager of the Wheat CRP. “Both CGIAR Research Programs rely on the hard work of scientists from several CGIAR Centers, as well as many national research and development partners and advanced research institutes. The governance bodies guide the CRPs’ strategic direction and provide advice on management oversight and partnership issues. Both steering committees make recommendations and raise issues with the CIMMYT Board of Trustees Program Committee,” he explained.

Four new members have been added to the CIMMYT BoT in 2014: Nicole Birrell, Director of SMS Management & Technology Ltd, Director of Superpartners Pty Ltd and Director of Wheat Quality Australia Ltd., Australia; Bob Semple, company director and consultant, Ireland; Dr. Manuel Villa Issa, Coordinator for Research, Innovation and Partnerships of the National Institute for Research on Forestry, Crops and Livestock, Mexico; and Dr. Rita Mumm, emerita faculty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and principal of GeneMax Services, United States (see additional biographical information below). Andrew R. Barr, 2013 BoT Chair, said of the addition of Semple and Birrell: “(Semple) is an accountant, auditor and governance advisor whose skills will combine with those of our new trustee, Nicole Birrell, to greatly improve our financial, audit and governance areas.” Villa Issa was chosen for the Board because of his experience in Mexican agronomy as well as his position at INIFAP, and Mumm for her expertise in maize genetics, breeding and biotechnology.

New Board Members:

Nicole Birrell joined the CIMMYT BoT in March 2014 and serves as the chair of the Nomination Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. Birrell has over 25 years of experience in wholesale and investment banking in Australia and the U.K., especially in strategic and operational risk management, financial markets and not-for-profit organizations. Previously, Birrell was on the board of Queensland Sugar Ltd, Director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Director of AusBulk Ltd and a member of Wheat Exports Australia. In each of these organizations she was the chair or a member of the committee responsible for audit, compliance and risk management oversight. She earned a degree in applied economics from the University of Antwerp and a M.Sc. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Birrell is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Bob Semple also joined the CIMMYT BoT in March 2014, and serves as a member of the Audit Committee. Semple has over 35 years of business experience in banking, information technology and the public sector. He is a Director of Global Standards 1 Ireland (a supply chain standards organization) and a Director of Suas (a non-governmental organization dedicated to providing quality education to disadvantaged children). He recently retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he was a partner responsible for governance and risk management services, and recently stepped down from the not-for-profit Corporate Governance Association of Ireland. Semple earned a B.Sc. from University College Dublin, is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland, a fellow of the Irish Computer Society and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Dr. Manuel Villa Issa joined the Board of Trustees in July 2014, and brings years of experience in Mexican agronomy to the Board. Villa Issa has been a senior professor-researcher at the Colegio de Postgraduados (CP) since 1974, and also served as its director from 1995-1996. His focus is the economic analysis of investment, public policies and quantitative methods. Villa Issa has also held a number of key federal and state positions in Mexico, serving as a member of the transition team of Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the United Mexican States, Secretary of Rural Development of the State of Puebla and Federal Delegate of the Secretary of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources, among other posts. Villa Issa received his B.S. in agricultural engineering from the National Agricultural College (now Chapingo Autonomous University) in 1967. He earned a M.Sc. from CP and a Ph.D. from Purdue University, both in agricultural economics.

Dr. Rita Mumm will join the CIMMYT Board of Trustees in September 2014 as a member of the Program Committee. She has over 20 years of experience in quantitative genetics, plant breeding and cultivar development. Previously, Mumm led the establishment of systems for transgenic product development in cotton, wheat and rice at Syngenta, led a team at DEKALB Genetics Corporation in establishing a high-throughput molecular marker and was a pioneer in developing and releasing some of the first transgenic traits in crops with DEKALB in the 1990s. She was President of the National Association of Plant Breeders and Founding Director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center at the University of Illinois. Mumm is a named inventor on several U.S. and European patents and pending patent applications.

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