Melissa A. Schweisguth


  • M.S. in International Agricultural Development, UC Davis, 2015
  • M.S. in Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Davis, 2014

My career spans 16+ years in various roles across corporate, NGO and academic settings:

  • Technical Director, Market Systems, ACDI/VOCA (Associate Technical Director 4/15-12/18). Focused on efforts to integrate value chain development and market systems facilitation into projects, from proposal through implementation; via training, guidance documents, capacity building, field assessments, technical assistance, proposal work, and other avenues.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (CSR) at the Hershey Company: Managed the launch, development and execution of the company’s CSR program
  • Manager of Marketing and Full Circle Sustainability for DAGOBA Organic Chocolate: Led marketing, PR and sales; developed and implemented DAGOBA’s Full Circle Sustainability social responsibility program.
  • Director of Education, Communications and Membership Development for the Sustainable Food Trade Association: Led education/capacity building to help food companies implement measurement-based sustainability management; oversaw recruitment and communications
  • Fair Trade Coordinator at Global Exchange: Launched and managed a national fair trade education and action campaign focused on cacao and coffee; co-wrote report on child labor in cacao sector; cultivated organizational partnerships
  • Research assistant on projects i) assessing the economic impacts of California pesticide regulations, and ii) developing strategies and decision tools to drive sustainable agricultural commodity sourcing (Agricultural Sustainability Institute Sustainable Sourcing of Global Agricultural Raw Materials )
  • Volunteer for ACDI/VOCA Farmer-to-Farmer  in Viet Nam (surveyed farmers and stakeholder to evaluate program outcomes; drafted recommendations to address cacao farmer attrition), Ghana (surveyed farmers and stakeholders to evaluate adoption of financial record keeping and GAP practices, drafted recommendations and tools to boost uptake, completed GAP cost/benefit analysis) and Jordan (worked with trade association to improve website, marketing and member engagement)
  • Independent consultant focused on Sustainable business and sourcing, Marketing, Communications and Writing

Key Capacities

  • Demonstrated success fostering the development of inclusive market systems, with a focus on agriculture, through technical advising, services and capacity building for project teams
  • Strong track record supporting new business development as lead technical writer, proposal manager and contributor to diverse proposals focused on agricultural market systems development, resilience among agricultural communities, and diversified economic development in international development contexts. Wrote winning proposals totaling over $25 million
  • Demonstrated achievement building internal capacity and delivering trainings, presentations, guidance and tools to build internal capacity on inclusive market systems development and corporate sustainability across value chains
  • Solid research, analysis and writing, including research and survey design, household surveys in multiple countries, key informant interviews, desk research, literature reviews and econometric/statistical analyses; with a focus on agricultural development and economics
  • Strong program and project development and management, including strategy, planning and budgeting
  • Demonstrated success building and implementing corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs across small to large enterprises, with a focus on the food, agriculture and consumer products sectors
  • Proven track record growing brands and causes via solid marketing and public relations, including successful media engagement
  • Extensive, effective, engaging written and oral communications across diverse venues and topics
  • Extensive engagement in food and agricultural sector (including chocolate/cacao) from farming through manufacturing and marketing

Technical and Programmatic Skills

  • Market systems and value chain analysis, and program strategy, design and implementation using facilitation and private-sector partnerships
  • Leading and contributing to successful new business development proposals as a lead writer, content contributor and technical subject matter expert
  • Cost-benefit assessment and modeling
  • Developing and managing programs and projects (including budgets)
  • Research design, implementation and assessment; including household surveys, focus groups and key informant/stakeholder interviews
  • Econometrics/statistics, STATA
  • Managing external agencies, interns and volunteers effectively
  • Forming, leading and engaging with cross-functional and cross-cultural teams; fostering peer networks
  • Building capacity among project teams, businesses and other partners through training, education, written guidance and tools
  • MS Office Suite and CMS web platforms
  • Implementing successful media relations, from strategy through placement
  • Crafting compelling, engaging, targeted written content (e.g., web, blogs, social media, e-newsletters, packaging, trade materials, presentations, white papers, briefs)
  • Producing informative, balanced, engaging articles and presentations for diverse audiences

Extensive working knowledge of:

  • Global market systems with a focus on smallholder-led agricultural supply chains, including issues of sustainability, inclusion, equity and resilience
  • Agricultural development, sourcing, processing, manufacturing, brands and marketing
  • Ethical trade and responsible labor practices (expertise in cocoa and coffee)
  • Food manufacturing from farm through manufacturing and distribution (processes, value chains and market systems )
  • Sustainability metrics, tools, certifications, labels, standards and organizations
  • Chocolate & cacao/cocoa industry, cacao production, chocolate
  • Organic and sustainable agriculture/food sectors

MeCacaoFarmDakLakI grew up on a homestead farm, and thrive on opportunities to grow food, run, and apply my capacities to foster significant, lasting positive impacts in the agricultural sector. In 2009, TIME Magazine named me to its “Responsibility Pioneers” list for shrinking my trash to zero.

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