Dr. Mark E. Keenum is president of Mississippi State University and currently serves as Chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD).
Prior to accepting the presidency at MSU in 2009, Dr. Keenum was appointed Under Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services by President George W. Bush in 2006. In 2014, he was appointed to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) by then-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Dr. Keenum was unanimously elected to chair the FFAR board in 2017.
In 2014, Dr. Keenum was named chairman of the Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) Steering Committee. In that role, Dr. Keenum addressed the United Nations on global food security and world hunger initiatives. In 2016, Keenum was named to the Feed the Future Evaluation Oversight Committee, which evaluated the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future initiative. That same year, Dr. Keenum spoke in sessions at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit at the UN – touting the collaboration between nearly 90 universities in the PUSH consortium dedicated to making food and nutrition security a priority.
Chairman Keenum holds a BS, MS and PhD in agricultural economics from Mississippi State University. He began his career at Mississippi State University as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. He went on to serve as chief of staff to former US Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC, before moving to USDA.
Dr. Pamela Anderson served as Director General of the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru, one of the research centers within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), from 2005–2013; and as CIP’s Director of Research from 2002–2005. Dr. Anderson also served as a senior entomologist and Coordinator of the Tropical Whitefly IPM Program at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia from 1996-2002. Prior to joining the CGIAR system, Dr. Anderson spent two decades working with national programs in Latin America. She has also served as an advisor to the Federation of American Scientists, a research consultant at Harvard University, a member of the Government of Ireland Hunger Task Force, and a Board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Returning to the United States in 2013, Dr. Anderson served as Director for the Agricultural Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2014 –2016, where she lead the team that works to reduce hunger and poverty for farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Pamela holds a B.A. in Biology from Northwestern University, an M.Sc. in Entomology from the University of Illinois, and an M. Sc. in Human Ecology as well as an D.Sc. in Population Sciences/Vector Entomology from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Mr. James M. Ash is a Partner at the law firm of Husch Blackwell LLP. He has served as Chair of the firm’s Food and Agribusiness Unit since 2013. For more than 30 years his legal knowledge has guided some of the world’s most visible food and agriculture companies, along with their investors and financers. His engagements in the agribusiness industry cover a range of issues, including mergers and acquisitions, international expansion, and corporate governance. Mr. Ash also manages his firm’s international services and relationships.
Mr. Ash has been connected to agribusiness all of his life, growing up in the small southern California farming community of Somis, and working as a plant manager for the citrus cooperative Sunkist. After attending Graceland University in Iowa, Mr. Ash received both his Bachelor degree, with honors, (1978) and Juris Doctor degree, with honors, (1981) from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).
Mr. Ash also serves on the Board of Governors of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and the Board of Advisors for Graceland University ENACTUS.
Dr. Brady J. Deaton
Chancellor Emeritus, University of Missouri
Dr. Brady J. Deaton served as Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Missouri from 2004 until 2013, with many years of service and experience in higher education, including senior positions at the University of Missouri since 1989. Dr. Deaton spent 12 years at Virginia Tech, the last four as associate director of the Office for International Development. Dr. Deaton holds leadership roles in many university, community and national organizations. He served as chair of the Academic Affairs Council of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and also participates in numerous advisory roles. He has authored more than 100 articles, presentations and book chapters in his career in addition to co-authoring three books. In 2009 he received an honorary degree from Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, Thailand.
Dr. Deaton holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics, an M.A. in Diplomacy and International Commerce from the University of Kentucky, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin. From 1962 to 1964, Dr. Deaton was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nan, Thailand, where he taught vocational agriculture in the Thai language.
Dr. Gebisa Ejeta
Distinguished Professor, Department of Agronomy
West Lafayette, Indiana
Dr. Gebisa Ejeta is currently the Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University and the Executive Director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security. Prior to his tenure at Purdue, Dr. Ejeta conducted seminal sorghum research in Sudan for five years with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
Dr. Ejeta has served on numerous science and program review panels, technical committees and advisory boards of major research and development organizations including the international agricultural research centers (IARCs), the Rockefeller Foundation and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. He has also served on the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the largest publicly funded agricultural research consortium in the world as a member of its Science Council (2008-2010) and currently as a member of its Consortium Board. Among his many awards, Dr. Ejeta was the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize; and a national medal of honor from the President of Ethiopia. Dr. Ejeta was also recently designated special advisor to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah in 2010.
Dr. Ejeta completed his early education in his native country including a BS in Plant Sciences from Alemaya College in 1973. He attended graduate school at Purdue University earning his Masters (1976) and PhD (1978) in Plant Breeding & Genetics.
Richard L. Lackey is Founder and CEO of World Food Bank Inc. and Global Food Exchange Inc. Mr. Lackey is a serial entrepreneur with a unique background that includes several years in emergency medical response and medical missions as well as almost three decades as an active trader and fund manager. Mr. Lackey is also co-developer of the market prediction software, PTI Pro. He has appeared as an expert in the field in magazines, and on radio and television, and co-authored the best-selling “Radical Response: Free Market Solutions to Global Crises”.