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Board of Directors

Semilla Nueva is overseen by a Board of Directors, comprised of experts in agronomy, business, and international development.

Board of Advisors

Semilla Nueva is guided by a Board of Advisors, made up of leading scientists from the private sector.

Director Emeritus

Thank you to our former board members.

Joe Bornstein

Mary Reiman

John Gulley

Ryan Shea

Donna Jacobs

Ben Simko

Mike Jones

Michael Sieler

Mike Markley

Kathleen Simko

John McGuire

Ron Van Auker, Jr.

Don Reiman

Darren Yondorf

John L. (Jack) Fiedler, Ph.D.

Michel Ragot

Board of Advisors

Michel Ragot

Michel Ragot earned a PhD in Genetics at North Carolina State University. Raised in France, his career has led him to pursue opportunities in France, Denmark, Switzerland, Mexico, and the United States. He has dedicated more than two decades to maize and vegetable molecular breeding. Following a twenty-five-year career at Syngenta and legacy companies, Michel co-founded and manages two companies, DeltaGee in France and Nouvelle France Genetics in Minnesota, a service and consulting company that specializes in helping breeding organizations deliver the greatest value through their innovation.

David Morgan

Board of Advisors

David Morgan

David Morgan has a master’s degree in Agricultural and Forestry Science from Oxford University in the UK. He retired from a 38-year corporate career in agriculture at the end of 2017. David has lived and worked in the UK, Venezuela, Canada, France, Singapore, the USA, and Switzerland; he has helped farmers across the world to improve their productivity through the introduction of new technologies. David has held senior executive roles in companies such as Bayer and Syngenta. Since retirement, he remains connected to the agricultural industry through consulting work and as a board member of non-profit organizations, including Semilla Nueva. David lives on a 400-year-old farmstead in the Peak District National Park of the UK.

Ray Riley

Board of Advisors

Ray Riley

US Head of R&D, Soil Carbon Co and President, RDR Agriscience LLC.

Ray is currently heading up the development of the US R&D program of Soil Carbon co, an Australian-based startup focused on enhancing the sequestration of recalcitrant carbon in agricultural soils. He is also the President of RDR Agriscience Consulting LLC which is focused on the support of a wide range of Ag Tech startups spanning crop genetics, gene editing, seed business strategy, biotech, microbial seed treatments, soil carbon sequestration, environmentally sustainable practices, and natural disease control mechanisms.

Previously, Ray spent three and a half years with Indigo Ag as Senior VP of Product Development, where he supported the company’s growth from a technology-focused organization with less than 20 employees to a product and brand-focused organization with over 1,000 employees. Prior to joining Indigo Ag, Ray spent 20 years with Pioneer Hi-Bred, serving in various roles ranging from Corn Breeder in Iowa to Research Director in the US, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, with responsibilities in research strategy and process change. Ray joined Syngenta in 2000 as Global Head of Corn Supply Chain with a focus on improving seed supply chain efficiencies. There, he oversaw the integration of several acquired seed companies, established an integrated research team, and oversaw the company’s Breeding Strategy and Seed Technology. In 2014, Ray was named Head of Computational Biology, where he established an integrated team supporting Syngenta research efforts spanning breeding, trait development (GM and native), and chemistry. At Indigo, Ray oversees the Product Development area which spans from the interface with discovery activities to engagement in support of commercialization efforts. He holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Nebraska.

Heather Danton

Board of Advisors

Heather Danton

Heather Danton is the Project Director for USAID Advancing Nutrition at JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. USAID Advancing Nutrition is the U.S. government’s 5-year flagship nutrition project that provides technical support to and implementation of nutrition interventions across sectors and disciplines for USAID and its partners. Heather previously held the position of Director, Food Security and Nutrition on the Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations for Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project, also led by JSI Research & Training, Institute, Inc. Prior to joining SPRING, Heather served as Senior Director of Food Security and Livelihoods for Save the Children Federation Inc. She has over 30 years of experience in Asia, Africa and Latin America in the area of food security and livelihoods and specializes in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs that integrate economic growth and agriculture with nutrition. Heather holds a Master of Science degree in Vegetable Crops from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Stanford University.

Ed Attema

Board of Advisors

Ed Attema

Ed Attema earned a degree in agriculture science at the University of Guelph – Ontario. After graduation, he started working with Cargill, focusing on the seed business, agriculture retail, grain elevators and fertilizer. In 1992, he moved to Istanbul, Turkey as general manager for Cargill’s Turkish seed business, an assignment at which he worked for two years. He returned to Cargill’s Minneapolis headquarters in 1994 as worldwide inventory and supply manager. In 1998, Monsanto bought Cargill’s international seed business, and Ed was one of seven U.S.-based employees hired by Monsanto, prompting a move to St. Louis.

In 2001, Ed was hired by Syngenta and returned to Minneapolis. He accepted an assignment in Singapore in 2008, and after four years in that region, returned to head North American production of both CP and seeds. In 2014, he moved to the role of Global Head of Field Production, with responsibility for field production of all Syngenta seed crops worldwide. In 2016, following an organizational change in P&S, he relocated to Basel and became the Head of Global Seed Operations with responsibility for end to end seed supply chains for all Syngenta crops. Ed retired from Syngenta in December 2017 and started a consulting business, ECA Consulting LLC, and has worked on several global and North America projects.

Bob Merrill

Board of Advisors

Bob Merrill

Dr. Robert Merrill retired in 2014 after a 29 year career at DuPont/Pioneer, working at the interface between information technology and applied global plant breeding research. A graduate of the University of Maine and the University of Minnesota, Dr. Merrill has interest and expertise in plant breeding and genetics and the application of information technology in agricultural research and business settings. At Pioneer, he led successful efforts to integrate research data from field plots and laboratory studies, deploy Geographic Information Systems technology for decisions involving product advancement and positioning, and establish Bioinformatics capabilities for emerging genomic technologies. During the latter stages of his career, he worked with DuPont/Pioneer’s international businesses in establishing ERP systems for individual countries in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Since retirement, Bob has offered consultation services to a number of companies, including Indigo Agriculture where he supported the development of research data collection and data quality procedures. An environmentalist at heart, Bob enjoys travel, mountain hiking and outdoor activities with his family

Keith Andrews, Chair

Board of Directors

Keith Andrews

For 37 years, Keith L. Andrews labored in Central America in agricultural and rural development, in technological, academic, and international institutions. As a University of Florida professor, he researched and taught in El Salvador and Honduras. He was President of Zamorano University in Honduras for nearly a decade. Then he served as National Representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in El Salvador and Guatemala. Keith is author or coauthor of over 100 refereed-publications as well as four books on Central American agriculture, education, and rural development. He now attempts to have a positive impact through his sculptural project, “100 People Who Deserve a Monument But Will Never Have One Unless I Do It For Them”.

Michael Summers, Vice Chair

Board of Directors

Michael Summers, Vice Chair

Michael has a wide breadth of experience facilitating, leading, and executing demanding technical projects, holding a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University. Michael first learned of Semilla Nueva in 2013 during a 30 day trip to Guatemala. During his time with Semilla Nueva he participated in the testing and redesign of human-powered sesame and corn planters for the no-till soil program. Joining the board in December 2015, Michael is excited to help guide the future growth and positive impact of Semilla Nueva.

Dawn Hickman, Board Treasurer

Board of Directors

Dawn Hickman, Board Treasurer

Dawn became aware of Semilla Nueva in 2011, through Rotary International. She immediately began volunteering with the organization, after hearing about the positive impact that Semilla Nueva was having. She has since visited the operations in Guatemala, and seen, firsthand, what the organization can accomplish. Dawn looks forward to her work on the board to help further the mission and vision of Semilla Nueva. She holds a BBA in Marketing with a minor in Communications from Boise State University and has worked in sales and marketing throughout her career.Nueva.

John Lodal

Director Emeritus

John Lodal

John Lodal is a retired engineer from Hewlett Packard. He holds three US patents. He is a member of the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club. He is a cancer survivor. He is a musician who plays trombone in the Boise Straight Ahead Jazz Big Band as well as playing bass guitar for any ensemble that asks him to sit in. He has been to Guatemala three times and is fully supportive of the compelling value proposition that Semilla Nueva is developing This true root cause solution to endemic malnutrition is unique in the space of social entrepreneurship. In his spare time, John enjoys hitting the gym, skiing, gardening, travel, and chasing his three grandchildren. Let’s change the world together. Carpe Diem!

Jerry Brady

Director Emeritus

Jerry Brady

Jerry Brady is president of The Post Company, a family and employee-owned newspaper company in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Jerry has a strong background in international affairs and development, practicing international trade law in Washington, D.C, serving as assistant to Idaho Senator Frank Church, and holding leadership positions in the Peace Corps for five years. Jerry co-founded ACCION International, a world leader in micro-financing for entrepreneurs in the Third World.

Erick Boy

Board of Directors

Erick Boy

Dr. Erick Boy holds a medical degree from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala and a Masters of Science and Ph.D. degree in nutrition from the University of California at Davis. Before joining HarvestPlus, Erick worked for 10 years at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP/PAHO) pursuing his research interests in perinatal public health, focusing on prevention of low birth weight with appropriate perinatal care technology, and iodine and iron deficiency control and prevention. Demonstration of the impact of indoor cooking fuel smoke on birth weight and standardization of iodine deficiency assessment in national surveys were highlights of this phase of his career. 

From 1999 until 2008, he led the iron and zinc research agenda at the Micronutrient Initiative in Canada, where he also managed Latin American projects and the global vitamin A supplements procurement project. Significant achievements included the introduction of zinc supplementation for diarrhea treatment and of multiple micronutrient powders in several Latin American countries.

As head of nutrition of the HarvestPlus Program since 2008, he has directed nutrition and food science research using state of the art technology and working with global experts in nutrition and public health in Sub Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Major contributions to the global nutrition community from the HarvestPlus research portfolio during his tenure include first proof of concept publications on the impact of biofortification as a food-based iron intervention that improves cognitive performance and physical work efficiency, the potential of food-based zinc interventions as double duty actions to tackle the double burden of malnutrition, the potential use of fatty acids as biomarkers of zinc nutrition, and the impact of provitamin A staple maize consumption on maternal breast milk vitamin A content and children’s visual acuity in twilight conditions. During the past 30 years, he has forged a global network of top nutrition researchers through respectful and collegiate collaboration and a shared sense of responsibility to apply science for the betterment of marginalized majorities around the world. 

Kenneth L. Hoadley

Board of Directors

Kenneth L. Hoadley

Kenneth has lived and worked in Central America for over 20 years. With post-graduate degrees from the Harvard Business School, he specializes in agribusiness management and economic development, with positions in academia and private sector consulting. A former Peace Corps Volunteer (Colombia), he has pursued a career combining academic teaching, research and management, serving as Associate Academic Dean at the INCAE Business School, Dean of the Arthur D. Little School of Management, and President of Zamorano University in Honduras. He has also led numerous consulting projects focused on agribusiness, rural development, health and nutrition.

Bob Kaplan

Board of Directors

Bob Kaplan

Bob devoted his professional career to policies, programs, and projects supporting economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean. After more than two decades at the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, Bob became president of the Inter-American Foundation in 2010, and that’s where he first learned about Semilla Nueva. Bob left the IAF in 2017 and traveled with his wife for over two years in the US, South America, Europe, and New Zealand. They have now settled in Ashland, Oregon, where Bob devotes most of his energy to local issues, while nurturing his lifelong affinity for Latin America. Bob and his wife have two grown children, and he is an avid cyclist.

Evie Kling

Board of Directors

Evie Kling

Until mid-2020, Evie served as International Fellow at the David Weekley Family Foundation, where she helped manage international giving and first learned of Semilla Nueva’s work. Prior to joining DWFF, Evie was a Senior Account Manager at Gerson Lehrman Group and managed the firm’s relationships with both global and boutique consulting firms. Evie is currently earning her MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and is excited to bring her academic, philanthropic, and for-profit experience to bear while serving on Semilla Nueva’s Board.  

Dave Smith, Chair

Board of Directors

Dave Smith, Chair

Dave Smith toured Semilla Nueva’s operations in 2018 and was inspired by its entrepreneurial spirit and approach to attacking malnutrition in Guatemala.  Dave brings 40 years of business experience to the board role, including founding his own company (Marathon Partners, LLC) in 2002.  Most recently, Dave owned and served as CEO of a frozen food company, Buddy’s Kitchen, Inc.  In addition to Semilla Nueva, Dave serves on the boards of two for-profit enterprises:  Dr. In the Kitchen, LLC and SR Realty Trust.  Dave has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an BA in Economics from Macalester College.


Becca Wammack, Board Secretary

Board of Directors

Becca Wammack, Board Secretary

Becca first learned of Semilla Nueva’s work while serving as the Director of International Giving for Dovetail Impact Foundation (formally named the David Weekley Family Foundation). During her tenure, she also served as an Executive Committee member of the Big Bang Philanthropy Group. Becca next worked in Business and Partnership Development for One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with the tools and financing to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. She currently serves as Chief Development Officer at Acceso, a social enterprise that empowers smallholder farmers to access markets to live healthy, dignified, and prosperous lives across Latin America and the Caribbean. Becca received her MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship from The Acton School of Business and a BA in International Community Development with a minor in Microfinance from Covenant College.

Jake Weisenthal

Board of Directors

Jake Weisenthal

Jake spent seven years living in Latin America, including five in Guatemala. He moved to Guatemala as a Princeton in Latin America fellow at a rural non-profit, where he designed the monitoring and evaluation program. He then joined Semilla Nueva, where, as the co-founder of the seed venture, he spent four years building marketing, production, and sales teams from the ground up. In 2018, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a Master of Business Administration and Public Policy from Harvard University. Since then, he has completed internships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and at McKinsey & Company, where he will return full-time after graduation. Jake lives in Cambridge, MA with his fiance and holds a degree in Political Science and Spanish from Haverford College.

Andrew Gunther

Board of Directors

Andrew Gunther

Andy Gunther has thirty years’ experience in Latin American investments and development finance. He worked for fourteen years for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. From 2007 until 2010, he was the IFC’s Country Manager for Brazil based in Sao Paulo. In addition, Andy worked for fifteen years in private equity in Latin America with a focus on renewable energy and other infrastructure investments. Andy currently works as a consultant or board member for multilateral development banks, companies, private equity firms and foundations. Andy has an MBA in finance from Wharton and a B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Mario Garcia Lara

Board of Directors

Mario Garcia Lara

Mario Garcia Lara is an economist from the Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala, with a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He has 38 years of experience in the design, analysis, interpretation, and execution of public policies in Guatemala, particularly regarding economic stability and growth. He has worked with various governmental institutions in Guatemala, such as the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), the National Institute of Statistics (INE) and the Guatemalan Central Bank.

Since 2006, he has been the Executive Director of the Guatemala 2020 Foundation, which analyzes and promotes long-term public policies for the development of the country, and works as a consultant in the field of macroeconomics. He joined Semilla Nueva’s Board of Directors in 2022.

Maria Isabel Carrascosa

Board of Directors

Maria Isabel Carrascosa

Maria Isabel is a Guatemalan-based law professional with an LLM in International and Comparative Law from GWU. She teaches Comparative Law at Marroquin University. She also worked as a legal advisor of the Transparency Committee in Congress and then founded a boutique law firm that monitors legislative activity in Central America and the Caribbean. Marisa first learned about Semilla Nueva in a meeting with Curt Bowen and has been following the project since. She is committed to closing the nutritional gap in Guatemala.

Elsa Murano

Board of Directors

Elsa Murano

A graduate of Florida International University in Biological Sciences, Dr. Murano received an M.S. in Anaerobic Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology from Virginia Tech.   

She is a Professor of Food Microbiology and President Emerita of Texas A&M University, and the Former Undersecretary for Food Safety at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Elsa A. Murano is the Director of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture & Development, a premier institution within Texas A&M which conducts applied research and extension projects to lift small farmers out of poverty and hunger in Asia, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

As part of her external service activities, Dr. Murano serves as a member of the Council of Advisors for the World Food Prize Foundation, and for the Director General of the International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA). 

 In 2022, Dr. Murano was named Outstanding Alumni in the Global Community of Virginia Tech.  In 2018, she was named Maestro of Community Service by Latino Leaders Magazine’s Maestro Awards as well as selected as Women Inc. magazine’s One of the Most influential Corporate Board Directors, among many honors.

Victor Raboy

Board of Advisors

Victor Raboy

Dr. Raboy earned a PhD in Horticulture at the University of Illinois and received additional training in genetics in the Laboratory of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin.

He is a plant geneticist, notable for a discipline-spanning body of work to reduce the phytic acid content of crops such as maize, barley, and soybean, and improve the absorption of their nutrients for humans and animals. His recent work has addressed the application of epigenetics to crop improvement.

Victor has more than 30 years of experience as a Research Geneticist, having worked with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. He joined Semilla Nueva’s Board of Advisors in 2022.

Juan Pablo Morataya

Board of Advisors

Juan Pablo Morataya

Executive Director and Legal Representative of the Center for the Action of Corporate Social Responsibility in Guatemala (CENTRARSE), has been appointed as Intergovernmental Expert on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and is the representative in Guatemala of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Academic and Consultant, with more than fifteen years of experience in sustainability strategies development for both national and multinational companies; International speaker with several publications, including “Vision: Current State of CSR in Central America” and “IndicaRSE: CSR Indicators System for the Central American region” Guatemala, Central America.

Rita Mumm - Profile Photo
Rita Mumm

Board of Advisors

Rita Mumm

Rita is a trained plant breeder and quantitative geneticist, holding a PhD from the University of Illinois, USA. A leader and trailblazer in bringing new crop varieties to market utilizing technological innovations and genomics-assisted approaches, she has contributed to agricultural food system advancements through the seed industry, academia, and international development. She holds several US and European patents.

Rita directs Capacity Building for the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) and the African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA), which provides professional development in Cultivar Development as well as Gene Editing, particularly to national program scientists in Africa.  In addition, she teaches around the world in the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy and provides consulting services to the seed industry through GeneMax Services.  Rita serves on several scientific advisory boards, and previously served two terms on the CIMMYT Board of Trustees, with roles as Chair of the (Scientific) Program Committee and Chair of the Nominations Committee. She was the first President of the US-based National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) and the founding director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center.

Rita is passionate about preparing the next generation of crop improvement scientists and supporting the current global workforce through continuing education, to equip them in their valiant fight against food and nutritional insecurity and stunting due to malnutrition.

Mark Edge

Board of Advisors

Mark Edge

Director of Partnerships, Seeds & Traits Business Development for LMICs

Mark leads Bayer’s collaborations with public-private partnership projects to get innovative improved seeds and traits to smallholder farmers to improve food security and rural livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

He has held multiple roles at the company leading the n introduction of new innovative seeds and traits varieties from Bayer’s R&D pipeline. He has previously held roles as the Europe & Africa Marketing Lead; the Global Cotton Product Manager and the Director of Trait Marketing.

Mark’s background includes experience in biotech research; many aspects of managing seed business development as well as the grain export business. He has a B.S. from Iowa State University, a M.S. in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, and an MBA from Drake University.