Ralph Christy  Ralph Christy  - Director

Professor Ralph D. Christy is Director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development and Professor of Emerging Markets at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches and conducts food marketing research and educational programs on the economic performance of markets and distribution systems. He has advised industry leaders and public policy makers on food marketing strategies, economic development, and the organization of the global food economy.

A Ph.D. graduate of Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Christy is past President of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and is currently a Board Member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, WinRock International, and the Agribusiness Capital Fund.

He is the author of three books, A Century of Service: Land Grant Colleges and Universities, 1890-1990 (1992); Achieving Sustainable Communities in a Global Economy (2004); and Emerging Markets (forthcoming). His most recent research calls attention to the role of creating an enabling environment for accelerating agro-industries’ contributions to sustain economic growth and development.


 Amanda Hickey – Program Coordinator

Amanda Peçanha Hickey is a Brazilian/American national. She holds a BA in International Relations from the State University of New York at New Paltz and is completing a Master's in Regional Planning at Cornell University. Her studies have looked broadly at poverty, economic development and food systems, focusing on family farming and Sub Saharan Africa. Amanda has worked as a consulting researcher for the Stockholm Environment Institute, the FAO of the UN, CARE International in Mozambique, and for community development organizations in the US. She is currently adapting CIIFAD experiences with small to medium enterprises (SMEs) into case studies aimed at increasing awareness among policy makers of issues surrounding African small business development.  


Margaret LynchMargaret Lynch – Senior Program Coordinator

Margaret holds an MPA in International Development from Cornell University and a BS in Molecular Genetics and International Studies from SUNY Fredonia.  She has previously worked at The World Bank, the United Nations, and the U.S. Department of State both domestically and abroad.  Her professional experiences has included projects with small and medium enterprises (SME’s), health, gender, political and community-based projects in Africa and Asia. In her position at CIIFAD she manages the Cornell-Walmart Foundation smallholder apple project in China and the SMART Program for which she has led projects to Uganda, Botswana, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Edward Mabaya Edward Mabaya – Assistant Director

Ed is an academic and a development practitioner with more than a decade of experience with African seed systems. He is involved in several programs that seek to improve the lives of African farmers through private enterprises.  Ed established and coordinates the Seeds of Development Program, a business development services and networking program for emerging seed companies in East and Southern Africa. As a Research Associate in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, he conducts research on food marketing and distribution, seed systems and the role of efficient agricultural markets in Africa’s economic development.  He is Assistant Director at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development.  Ed earned his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University and his B.Sc. from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2007, Ed was an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow at the African Leadership Institute at Oxford University.  During 2010-2011, he was a Visiting Researcher at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.


Beth MedveckyBeth Medvecky – Assistant Director, Research Associate

Beth holds a PhD in crop and soil science from Cornell; an MS in international agricultural development with a specialization in plant protection and pest management from the University of California, Davis; and a certificate in ecological horticulture from University of California, Santa Cruz.  Before joining Cornell, Medvecky lived in rural Kenya for nearly two decades, working to improve low external input agricultural practices to benefit resource constrained households. From 1992 to 2001, Medvecky led a novel adaptive research program for a local non-governmental organization in Kenya. She currently serves as the Collaborative Crop Research Program’s Liaison Scientist in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. From 2009-2013, Medvecky also served as associate director for the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT PhD Traineeship Program.


Ginny Montopoli – Assistant to the Director


Krisztina Tihanyi ​Krisztina Tihanyi – Visiting Scholar

Kriszta divides her time between the 'real world' and academia.  At Market Matters Inc. she is Chief Operating Officer.  In this capacity, she coordinates the organization’s agribusiness training portfolio and publication activities. She is also in charge of grant writing and administration, as well as fundraising and financial management. At Cornell University she holds visiting appointments at the Institute for African Development and the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development.  Her background includes degrees in Psychology, International Peace Studies, and Anthropology. A Ph.D. graduate of Cornell University, Kriszta has a keen interest in developing educational programs that lead to social and economic transformation.  She has written the book Blending in the Rainbow Nation (an account of post-Apartheid reconciliation and racial integration in South Africa) and co-edited the volume Case Studies of Emerging Farmers and Agribusinesses in South Africa.


Christina Tonitto – Research Associate


Amanda Ward – Program Coordinator

Amanda holds a bachelors of arts in Political Science and International Social Justice from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a Masters in Public Administration, specializing in international development, from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. Prior to joining the team for The African Seed Access Index, she spent two years as a Teach for America corps member in Memphis, Tennessee, and has worked on education programming and women’s business development projects in Sierra Leone and Kenya. She now works as a program coordinator for the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development.