The board of directors of World Coffee Research has appointed Jennifer ‘Vern’ Long as its new CEO.
Michael Keown, Chair of the board of directors said, “Vern is joining WCR at a time of strong momentum. What was once a fledging organization has surpassed everyone’s expectations. We are thrilled to welcome her and look forward to all that’s to come.”
A plant breeder by training, Ms Long brings 25 years of experience in international agricultural research with a focus on smallholders.
Serving as Director, Office of Agricultural Research and Policy at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), she managed a global portfolio of in excess of US$140 million per year and has substantial experience convening diverse stakeholders – from industry, national governments, international agricultural research centres, scientists and farmers – to formulate shared research agendas to improve productivity among smallholder farmers.
Her work has spanned low- and middle-income countries in Central America, West Africa, East and Southern Africa and South Asia. She has served on various multi-donor working groups, including as Chair of the Agricultural Research Working Group of the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development based in Bonn, Germany.
Dr Tim Schilling, founder and outgoing chief executive officer of WCR, will work side-by-side with Long to the end of 2019, then step into a new role as president of WCR’s European subsidiary and a member of the board of directors. Ms Long is due to take the helm of WCR on 1 June 2019.
“With Vern, WCR is in exceptionally capable hands,” said Dr Schilling. “She is deeply knowledgeable and passionate about international agricultural research, is a natural leader and entrepreneurial thinker, and is an experienced organization builder. She’s the perfect fit.”
Ms Long will lead an organization that has grown since its founding in 2012 to a team of 36 people in 13 countries with an annual budget of more than US$4.4 million worldwide.