FAO in North America

Our Team

Jocelyn Brown Hall, Director

Jocelyn Brown Hall, Director

Jocelyn Brown Hall is the Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office for North America based in Washington, DC. She joined the office on 14 June 2021.

Prior to this role she served as the Deputy Regional Representative for the FAO Regional Office for Africa, where she oversaw 47 FAO country offices in Africa and guides their strategy and communications around food security. She also serves as the FAO Representative for Ghana, where she worked with ministries of agriculture, fisheries, social protection and trade.

In 1998, Brown Hall joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Foreign Agricultural Service, where she coordinated USDA’s international development and training programs. She was the lead expert on USDA’s technical relationship with international organizations such as FAO, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, and various international research centers.

In 2015, Brown Hall was appointed Deputy Administrator in the Foreign Agricultural Service where she led the USDA’s USD $2 billion food and technical assistance programs in low- and middle-income countries. In this position, she oversaw USDA’s international food and technical assistance programs, including the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, the Food for Progress Program, the Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs, and numerous technical assistance projects that promote U.S. government food security and trade capacity building goals.

Brown Hall began her career teaching English at an agricultural university in Peshawar, Pakistan, while serving in the Peace Corps. She then ran the largest income generation program for Afghan women refugees in Pakistan for Save the Children, until she was evacuated from that country during the first Gulf War.

Upon returning to United States, she worked in the private sector where she served as Special Assistant to the President and CEO of Development Associates and for the government of the District of Columbia, where she addressed procurement, financial, and human resources issues under the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

Brown Hall holds a master’s degree in Business Administration in International Business and Development from the George Washington University and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in American Literature.

Thomas Pesek, Senior Liaison Officer

Thomas Pesek has over fifteen years of experience in sustainable agriculture and food security, resource mobilization, partnership-brokering, development finance, advocacy and external liaison. He joined FAO in September 2017 after having worked at IFAD for 12 years. Prior to that he worked for WFP and at UN Headquarters in New York.

Gabriel Laizer, Strategic Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator

Gabriel Laizer, Strategic Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator

Gabriel Laizer is an accomplished international development professional with over ten years of experience in identifying, building and strengthening partnerships among diverse public and private organizations. At the FAO, Gabriel plays an important role in articulating and developing strategic alliances and outreach efforts to deepen, expand and improve partnership impact among FAO partners in North America. He also monitors and identify critical program issues where FAO inputs/involvement is needed and organize information flows from key stakeholders to FAO program units. 

Before joining the FAO in 2009, Gabriel served as Manager of Membership Services at the Alliance to End Hunger. He has previously worked for Bread for the World, where he helped develop and implement an annual legislative campaign. 

Gabriel has a master's degree in International Development from the American University in Washington, and a bachelor's degree in Political Science from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.  

Elena Clark, Congressional Engagement and Partnership Consultant

Elena Clark, Congressional Engagement and Partnership Consultant

Elena Clark joined FAO in February 2021 with over 4 years of combined Capitol Hill, campaign, and trade association policy experience. In her legislative capacity, she served several Members of Congress, centering her work on agricultural trade policy and the intersection of environmental, transportation, and labor issues within the domestic agriculture industry.

Elena graduated with a B.S. from Kent State University in 2017 and descends from a proud family tradition of sustainable farming in western Pennsylvania.

Ahdi Zuber Mohammed, Communications Consultant

Ahdi Zuber Mohammed, Communications Consultant

Ahdi Mohammed joined the FAO Liaison Office for North America in February 2018. In her role, she manages communications efforts to raise awareness of FAO’s work to address emerging food and agriculture issues. Prior to FAO, she worked with the United Nations Environment Programme’s North America Office to coordinate outreach for major global campaigns and activities to engage diverse audiences in environmental decision-making.  

Ahdi graduated with high honors from Mount Holyoke College in 2013, where she majored in Environmental Studies with a focus on sustainable development. 

Mikaila Way, Indigenous Food Systems Consultant

Mikaila Way, Indigenous Food Systems Consultant

Mikaila Way joined the FAO Liaison Office for North America in January 2020. In her role, she works closely with the FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit to serve as the Indigenous peoples' liaison consultant for North America, collaborating with Indigenous stakeholders in the United States and Canada on indigenous peoples' food systems in the region. This work builds on her previous experience learning and working Indigenous leaders and communities in the western part of the United States. Mikaila graduated from Pacific University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology, minoring in Peace and Social Justice with a focus on restorative food systems.

Graciela Mangassarian, Assistant to the Director

Graciela Mangassarian, Assistant to the Director

Graciela Mangassarian is the assistant to the Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Graciela is from Asuncion, Paraguay. She joined FAO in 2007.   

James Cordero, Information Technology Specialist

James Cordero, Information Technology Specialist

James Cordero joined FAO in June 2003 as the Procurement, IT Support and Service Assistant in the Liaison Office for North. James oversees the servers/network infrastructure and provides IT support to Washington, D.C staff members from FAO, WFP, and UNFPA. 

James holds a bachelor’s degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic and a Master’s of Engineering in Engineering Management from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. 

Alexandria Richter, Partnerships Intern

Alexandria Richter, Partnerships Intern

Alexandria Richter joined the FAO Liaison Office for North America as a Partnerships Intern in June 2021. In her role, she assists the partnerships and communications team in organizing World Food Day activities, conducting outreach, and writing articles on diverse topics related to Sustainable Development Goal 2 covered during roundtable events. Prior to her role at FAO, she worked with Relief International and the Global Food Security Cluster, and as a Registered Nurse in Maternal/Newborn Health. She is passionate about promoting a narrative that nurtures health at every stage of the food system.

Alexandria graduated with a B.S. from the University of Oklahoma in 2015, a Master of Public Health with honors from City, University of London in 2019, and a Master of Human Development and Food Security with honors from The University of Roma Tre in 2020.

Abbe McCarter, Indigenous Peoples’ Liaison Intern

Abbe McCarter, Indigenous Peoples’ Liaison Intern

Abbe McCarter joined the FAO Liaison Office for North America as the Indigenous Peoples’ Liaison Intern in June of 2021. In her role she helps support the activities of the Liaison Office and the FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, with a particular focus on Indigenous peoples’ across North America. Prior to her role at FAO, she worked for the Human Relations Area Files database, the Seneca Nation Agriculture Department, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health on the OPREVENT research team.

Abbe graduated with highest honors from Emory University with a B.S. in Anthropology and Human Biology and will graduate in 2022 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with an MSPH in Public Health Nutrition.

Finance and Tax Unit

Genevie Dayrit, Finance, Administration and Tax

Genevie Dayrit, Finance, Administration and Tax

Genevie Dayrit is the focal point for the Administrative and Finance Team for FAO’s Liaison Office for North America. She joined FAO in October 2009 from the World Food Program.   

Genevie is from the Philippines and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies as well as a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Management.  

Bonnie Harris, Finance (Tax) Assistant

Bonnie Harris, Finance (Tax) Assistant

Bonnie Harris joined the FAO Tax Unit in April 2012.  She reviews, calculates, and processes tax reimbursement and advance requests received from FAO, WFP and IFAD staff members who are eligible for the tax reimbursement program. She also provides guidance and education to staff members regarding the program’s policies and procedures; and updates the Administrative Circular/Directive on Taxes.

Bonnie has a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and is a certified U.S. Income Tax Preparer. She has 25 years of mid-to-high level office and financial management experience working with IFAD’s North American Liaison Office, various NGOs and Nonprofit Organizations, as well as corporate law and economic consulting firms.

Ataur Patwary, Finance (Tax) Assistant

Ataur Patwary, Finance (Tax) Assistant

Ataur Patwary joined the FAO Liaison Office for North America in April 2016. In his role, he reviews, calculates and process tax reimbursement and advance requests received from staff members who are eligible for the tax reimbursement scheme for FAO, World Food Program (WFP), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

Before joining the FAO, Ataur worked for diverse public and private organization as a finance and accounting professional. Ataur holds a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

Miriam Ghebrehiwet Araya, Administrative Assistant

Miriam Ghebrehiwet Araya, Administrative Assistant

Miriam Ghebrehiwet Araya – a national of Eritrea – joined FAO’s Liaison Office for North America in June 2019 after 9 years of work experience at FAO Headquarters beginning from June 2011.  Before joining FAO, she worked at IFAD HQ in Rome and the Italian Cooperation in Khartoum, Sudan. Miriam has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism as well as a Master’s degree in Human Development and Food Security from the University of Roma Tre, Rome.