Melissa A. Schweisguth


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

My career spans 13 years in various roles across corporate, NGO and academic settings:

  • Associate Technical Director, Market Systems, ACDI/VOCA. 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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

Summary of Experience

  • 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 CSR and sustainability programs across small to large enterprises
  • 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

Demonstrated Capacities

Solid working skills in:

  • Value chain analysis
  • 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 and leading cross-functional teams; fostering peer networks
  • 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:

  • Agricultural development and sourcing
  • 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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