ACDI/VOCA Executive Team & Board

Bill Polidoro

Bill Polidoro

President and CEO

Bill Polidoro joined the company in October 2005, as senior vice president for special projects and ascended to the role of Chief Operating Officer in February 2006. In January 2014, he became President and CEO. Mr. Polidoro came to ACDI/VOCA from Pact, Inc., where he served as the director for the Africa region after working as the country director for Kenya and Sudan and as a senior program manager. Mr. Polidoro earned his doctorate in development anthropology at the American University, in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. in sociology from North Adams State College in Massachusetts. He has also completed additional graduate work in anthropology and South Asian studies at the University of Chicago, in Illinois. He worked in Guinea for USAID as a personal services contractor, managing an integrated natural resource management (NRM) program. Subsequent assignments with Pact, Datex, and Development Assistance Corporation included strengthening public administration, agricultural marketing, NRM and environment, livelihoods, and civil society development, including community responses to HIV/AIDS. Mr. Polidoro began his international career in the early 1980s in India working in agricultural development while conducting anthropological research. His area of specialization is the impact of policy on rural communities, especially as it relates to land tenure and livelihoods.


William T. Irelan

General Counsel


Mr. Irelan has served as general counsel to ACDI/VOCA since 1991. Mr. Irelan's career includes many years of diverse professional experience in law and international development, having worked previously for the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, the international division of the Ford Foundation, Robert R. Nathan Associates, Chemonics and other consulting organizations, and, in private practice, as legal counsel to internationally oriented nonprofit organizations in New York and Washington, D.C. He has also worked or undertaken assignments for USAID and foreign governments, including the ministry of finance for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His professional expertise and activities have comprised general legal counseling, employment law and litigation, trade and export development, finance, and investment promotion. He has lived and/or worked in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, India, and the Caribbean. He belongs to the bars of New York, the District of Columbia., Virginia, and Ohio and has published articles on such topics as educational policy and human resource development in Jordan, law and economic development in Egypt, and the investment code in Tunisia. He earned his J.D. at the University of Virginia, his B.A. at Monmouth College in Illinois, and attended the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Mr. Irelan was a Ford Foundation Africa-Asia Fellow in Cairo, Egypt. He is proficient in French.

Gevorg Adamyan

Executive Vice President for Project Management and New Business Development


Mr. Adamyan is an economic development expert with more than 17 years of experience in the design and management of international agribusiness and enterprise development projects. As Executive Vice President for Project Management and New Business Development, Mr. Adamyan oversees the planning, design, and implementation of ACDI/VOCA's worldwide portfolio of development activities funded by USAID, USDA, MCC, multilateral donors, private foundations, and corporate clients. Mr. Adamyan joined ACDI/VOCA in 2001 and has since assumed progressively responsible positions. In his prior role, he led ACDI/VOCA’s Agribusiness Practice Area where he managed a diverse set of projects with a combined annual budget of more than $35 million; guided product development related to agribusiness systems, market facilitation, and the supporting policy environment; oversaw regional offices in Middle East/North Africa and East Africa; and promoted the growth of private sector engagement. In the past five years he has managed business development efforts that have secured more than $200 million in funding for ACDI/VOCA and its affiliates. His project assignments have included investment feasibility investigations, capacity development of agribusiness enterprises, development of value chain enhancement strategies, and identification of strategic investment partners. Prior to joining ACDI/VOCA, Mr. Adamyan worked in various capacities at the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Peace Corps, and Eurasia Foundation. He holds the equivalent of an M.S. degree in economics from Yerevan State University and speaks fluent Russian and Armenian.

Robert Fries

Executive Vice President for Technical Learning and Application


Mr. Fries has more than 25 years of experience developing, managing, and providing technical expertise in rural and agricultural development. As ACDI/VOCA’s Executive Vice President for Technical Learning and Application, Mr. Fries leads a team of experts in identifying, developing, and disseminating best practices and products to overseas projects. He has extensive experience in creating tools and training materials that apply value chain analysis to financial market assessments, including for USAID, World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and SEEP. In 2014, working with the IFC in the Philippines, Mr. Fries led a team that trained loan officers in Profit Planner, a proprietary tool developed by ACDI/VOCA to facilitate cash flow analysis of smallholders and agricultural SMEs. In 2012 Mr. Fries co-authored “FIELD Report 13: Value Chain Finance Guide: Tools for Designing Project Interventions that Facilitate Investment in Key Value Chain Upgrades.” Through the USAID-funded Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project (AMAP), he completed a study and framework paper titled “Value Chains and Their Significance for Addressing the Rural Finance Challenge.” He also presented a paper at the USAID-sponsored International Conference on Rural Finance Best Practices in 2003; co-authored the publication Making Rural Financial Institutions Sustainable (2000); and prepared for the World Bank “Basic Guidelines For Effective Rural Finance Projects.” Mr. Fries currently serves as a board member for four ACDI/VOCA-affiliated financial institutions. Mr. Fries earned an M.P.I.A. in economic and social development from the University of Pittsburgh. He is fluent in Spanish.

Paul Guenette

Executive Vice President for Communications and Outreach


Paul Guenette is an economic development manager with expertise in agribusiness and trade. Mr. Guenette provides leadership in companywide communication and outreach efforts, corporate planning efforts, and developing public-private partnerships and relationships with external corporations. He has designed and managed large, integrated, sustainable development programs in a career spanning 40 years and 70 countries. His experience includes long-term assignments in Senegal, Mauritania, Indonesia, Barbados, and Kenya heading agribusiness programs that incorporated activities in policy reform, business group strengthening, commercial marketing, equity financing, and investment promotion. His consulting assignments have included designing and implementing enterprise development programs for USAID, conducting international marketing workshops for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, analyzing agribusiness global trends for the World Bank, and designing a farmer organization program for IFAD. Mr. Guenette serves as Corporate Secretary for ACDI/VOCA and ASI. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington DC Chapter of the Society for International Development. Mr. Guenette earned his M.B.A. at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his B.A. at Kalamazoo College. He is fluent in French.

Malika Magagula

Executive Vice President for Quality and Compliance


Executive Vice President for Quality and Compliance Malika Magagula joined ACDI/VOCA in February 2013. She oversees corporate implementation and coordination efforts to strengthen staff and programs for increased efficiency and effectiveness. Ms. Magagula has extensive experience in Africa, including cross-cutting experience in program and financial management, NGO and government capacity building, and HIV and AIDS and livelihood programming. Before joining ACDI/VOCA, she served for nine years as Pact’s country director in South Africa. In that role, she headed a $230 million HIV grant management and capacity development program. During this time, she also managed a regional portfolio of similar programs in Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana. Prior experience includes positions as deputy chief of party for Creative Associates for a democracy and governance program in South Africa; financial controller for Swaziland Development and Savings Bank; and several years with USAID as a financial analyst. Ms. Magagula has conducted numerous short-term assignments throughout East and West Africa. She earned her bachelor’s in international business from Western Michigan University and her master’s in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. Ms. Magagula was born and raised in Ethiopia (she is half Ethiopian and half American) and speaks fluent Amharic and French.

Marsha Moulton

Executive Vice President for Human Resources and Administration


Ms. Moulton heads the human resources and administrative division. As a certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR), Ms. Moulton brings to ACDI/VOCA a depth of knowledge and experience in organizational management. She joined ACDI/VOCA in April 2006 after serving as vice president and deputy director of human resources at ICF International, Inc.; director of human resources and administration at Caliber Associates, Inc.; manager of human resources development at American Institutes for Research; and senior personnel consultant at Tangent Corporation. She earned her M.S. in applied behavioral science with a concentration in organizational development at the Johns Hopkins University and B.S. in psychology at the University of Maryland University College. She served on the board of the Human Resources Leadership Forum from 2011–2013. In 2012 she was a finalist in the Human Resources Leadership Award in Innovation and a recipient of the Dr. J. P. London Award for Promoting Ethical Behavior. In 2013 Ms. Moulton was awarded the InsideNGO Operational Excellence Award in Human Resources.

ACDI/VOCA Board of Directors

Mortimer Neufville, Chairman

Washington, D.C.


Dr. Neufville has been ACDI/VOCA chairman since June 2008. Before that he chaired the board’s Projects Committee and in that capacity led numerous trips overseas to review projects, a practice that has continued under his chairmanship. He retired in 2008 from his position as executive vice president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (now the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities). Before taking that position in 2000, he led NASULGC's federal relations activities and coordinated work related to agriculture, natural resources, environmental affairs, human sciences, forestry, and international affairs. He is a former executive of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where he was involved in various African development programs. He also served as chairman of the board of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, one of the centers of the CGIAR. Today he serves on the board of the International Fertilizer Development Center. In September 2008 he was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Neufville served as interim president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore from August 2011 through June 2012. Between 2013 and 2015, he served as president of Coppin State University. In November 2014 he was awarded the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award by the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) for his contributions to international development and higher education.

Deborah Atwood

Washington, D.C.

Ms. Atwood joined the Meridian Institute in January 2011 and serves as executive director of Meridian’s AGree: Transforming Food and Ag Policy, a broad-based initiative designed to tackle long-term agricultural, food, and rural policy issues. She has more than 30 years of experience in policy and legislative matters regarding food, agriculture, the environment, research, and risk management, including working with executives in the private sector, federal government, and nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Meridian, Ms. Atwood was director of Corporate Affairs and Public Policy at Mars, Inc. Before that, she was a partner with C&M Capitolink on behalf of clients in the chemical, agricultural, environmental, mining, and food industries. Ms. Atwood served as a partner at Capitolink from 1999 until 2001, when she took a leave of absence to serve in the Bush administration from August 2001 to September 2003 as special assistant to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture James Moseley. From 1995 until 1999 she was assistant vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs for the National Pork Producers Council and from 1992 until 1995, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs at the American Meat Institute. She served in President George H. Bush’s administration from 1989 to 1992 as deputy associate administrator for congressional and legislative affairs at the EPA. She began her career on Capitol Hill on the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee staff from 1981 to 1983, working for Congressman Joel Pritchard. Later, she joined the staff of Senator Slade Gorton, with responsibility for energy, water, and fisheries policy. She is a marine resource scientist by training and has also worked at the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Dr. Udai Shankar Awasthi

New Delhi, India

As the CEO and managing director for the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), the largest fertilizer manufacturer in Asia and one of the largest in the world, Dr. Awasthi oversees the cooperative’s general management and supervises relations with 40,000 member cooperative societies across India. He joined IFFCO as it managing director in 1993, and significantly expanded its urea production capacity. Under Dr. Awasthi’s management, IFFCO also experienced a dramatic increase in fertilizer sales. A recognized authority on development, Dr. Awasthi is on the boards of several Indian and overseas companies/institutions such as IFFCO-Tokio General Insurance Co. Ltd. (ITGI), IFFCO Chattisgarh Power Ltd. (ICPL), Kisan International Trading (KIT), and the Fertiliser  Association of India. He is also the chairman of Industries Chimiques Du Senegal (ICS), IFFCO Canada Enterprise Limited, and deputy chairman of Jordan India Fertiliser Company (JIFCO). Dr. Awasthi has published over 25 technical papers and has co-authored the book Fertiliser Industry in India. Dr. Awasthi is also the recipient of many prestigious national and international awards.


Charles F. Conner

Washington, D.C.

Mr. Conner is president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Prior to joining NCFC, between May 2005 and January 2009, Mr. Conner served as deputy secretary of the USDA, where, as chief operating officer, he oversaw day-to-day operations including development of a $95 billion budget for the 26 USDA agencies representing 300 programs and more than 100,000 employees. Mr. Conner also represented USDA on the President’s Management Council providing food, trade, security, and energy policy expertise. He led the development of the 2008 $300 billion Farm Bill. While at USDA, he led a delegation to Colombia and another to an FAO meeting in Rome, Italy, on global food and trade issues. Mr. Conner was special assistant to President George W. Bush from October 2001 to May 2005. From May 1997 to October 2001 he headed the Corn Refiners Association and in that capacity was involved in WTO and NAFTA issues. He is the recipient of Purdue’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Jerry Fenner

St. Paul, Minnesota

Mr. Fenner retired in 2016 as director of enterprise risk management for AgriBank, FCB, where he served from 2012. He was involved with various risk analysis and management activities, including stress testing and economic capital analysis. Prior to this, Mr. Fenner was director of asset/liability management at AgriBank, responsible for managing the interest rate risk on AgriBank’s $80 billion balance sheet. AgriBank is one the Farm Credit System’s four banks. It supports lending to agriculture and rural America through 17 affiliated associations in the upper Midwest. Mr. Fenner joined the Farm Credit System in 1984. He served as senior vice president for finance of the St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives at the time of its merger with CoBank in 1999. Through his church, he has led volunteer teams to Haiti over the past 10 years, helping to build a new school in Les Cayes and rebuild a church in Île Adam, outside of Cap-Haïtien. He holds a B.S. in food systems economics and management from Michigan State University, an M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. in leadership from Augsburg College.

Patricia Wilkinson Garamendi

Walnut Grove, California

Ms. Garamendi’s international work began in 1966 in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. In 1993 Ms. Garamendi served as the associate director of the Peace Corps, where she led the charge to recruit 24,000 Peace Corps volunteers in 94 countries. Ms. Garamendi also served as the deputy administrator for the Foreign Agricultural Service’s International Cooperation and Development (FAS/ICD) program area. While at FAS, she led the $13 million recovery program following Hurricane Mitch and helped develop the Global Food for Education Program. She also served as the U.S. Government’s National Food Security coordinator and the vice chair of the Committee on World Food Security of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). In her role as National Food Security coordinator, Ms. Garamendi promoted global food security and ensured full participation of the U.S. government and civil society in implementing the U.S. Action Plan on Food Security. In 2000 Ms. Garamendi delivered the keynote address at the Global Summit of Women in South Africa, promoting the importance of women’s empowerment, broad-based educational opportunities, and economic policies geared toward job creation in the developing world. In 2007 Ms. Garamendi and her husband orchestrated the transfer of 40,000 pounds of rice donated by the Rice Farmers Cooperative to Honduras, then plagued by deadly floods. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Humphreys School of Law, she helped found the Joe Lurie Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellowship.


James K. Hoyt

Bloomington, Illinois

Mr. Hoyt retired as vice president for GROWMARK, Inc., an international agricultural cooperative based in Bloomington, Illinois. In his previous role, he provided management direction to the company’s strategic planning function and the corporate communications, marketing services, government affairs, and flight operations business units. His 41-year career with GROWMARK began in 1971 at a member cooperative in northeast Iowa. In 1973 he joined FS Services, Inc., a predecessor of GROWMARK. Mr. Hoyt held a variety of marketing and management responsibilities in GROWMARK’s U.S. regions and also served as executive director of Canadian operations from 1996-2004. Mr. Hoyt currently serves on the boards of the Iowa FFA Foundation, the Iowa National Heritage Area (Silos and Smokestacks), and the St. Francis of Assisi Board of Education. He is active as a volunteer with the World Food Prize, based in Des Moines, and the Iowa State Fair. Mr. Hoyt is currently consulting for agricultural cooperatives with domestic and international operations. During his time in Canada, Mr. Hoyt served on the board and executive committee of the Canadian Co-operative Association. He is a recipient of the Cooperative Spirit Award for Outstanding Contributions to CCA and the Reginald J. Cressman ACE Award recognizing cooperative staff development. Additionally he served as delegate to the Cooperators Insurance Group. As a youth Mr. Hoyt was state president of the Iowa FFA. He holds a B.A. in marketing.

Cathy Lanning

Westerville, Ohio

Ms. Lanning is Nationwide Insurance’s vice president of strategic partnerships. In this role, she is responsible for leveraging the unique performance capabilities of Nationwide Enterprise to create mutually beneficial partnerships that enable enterprise growth and profitable policyholder generation. Most recently, Ms. Lanning served as vice president of Affinity Solutions where she focused on growing the Affinity portfolio through an expanded product suite, advanced direct marketing, and creative new partnership structures. In 2007, Ms. Lanning joined Nationwide as part of the leadership team that launched Nationwide Bank. She led the marketing analytics division and developed methodology to understand the efficiency and effectiveness of media spend across brands and channels in the Nationwide Enterprise. Ms. Lanning holds undergraduate degrees in marketing and psychology and a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University. She volunteers as a mentor to undergraduate business students at Ohio State University.


Jim Magnuson

Sully, Iowa

Mr. Magnuson is the CEO and general manager of Key Cooperative, a grain marketing and diversified agricultural inputs cooperative with annual sales of $320 million based in Roland, Iowa. Key Cooperative serves agricultural and rural customers through 230 team members and locations in 16 communities in central and south central Iowa. Mr. Magnuson has 38 years of cooperative business experience. His work history includes the Omaha Bank for Cooperatives (now CoBank), the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, and Heartland Co-op. He currently serves on the board of directors of CoBank ACB, United Suppliers (wholesale fertilizer and crop protection), and Ag Co-op Employment Services LLC. He has served as a director of Cooperative Credit Company (ag producer credit), the Agri Business Association of Iowa, Synergy LLC (pork production), and Lincolnway Energy (ethanol production). Mr. Magnuson earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with graduate work focusing on cooperative financial management and decision making.  

Shonda Warner

Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ms. Warner is the founder of Chess Ag, which manages a suite of funds that are invested in 50,000 acres of U.S. farms. From 2002 through 2006 Ms. Warner was the managing partner of London asset management firm Chess Capital Partners. She has 30 years of experience managing various forms of financial and agricultural assets. From 1998 through 2002 Ms. Warner was the co-managing director and part owner of Montier Partners, a UK-based fund of funds, where she concentrated on the investment side of the business. Before joining Montier, she was executive director at Bear Stearns where she helped set up the European equities proprietary trading desk. Prior to that, Ms. Warner was an executive director at Goldman Sachs where she was a member of London’s equity derivatives and proprietary trading desks. Before London, Ms. Warner spent three years in Tokyo running Goldman’s proprietary warrant trading business. She began her career at Cargill in Kansas City and Minneapolis, where she gained experience first trading grains and then conducting financial instruments arbitrage.