FAO in North America

Our Team

Vimlendra Sharan, Director

Vimlendra Sharan, Director

Vimlendra Sharan is Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America. Mr. Sharan brings with him more than two decades of national and international government leadership experience focusing on rural development, agriculture and food security issues.

Mr Sharan has worked with the Indian Government extensively in rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra and has also been actively involved in agriculture and food policy formulation working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in New Delhi. He comes to Washington from his previous posting as Permanent Representative of India to the Rome based UN Agencies where he served as the Vice President of the Word Food Programme (WFP) Executive Board, Chairman of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Evaluation Committee, Asia Group representative on FAO Programme Committee, and a member of the FAO Council.

Mr Sharan holds a degree in Economics from University of Delhi, India and a MBA in Public Policy from University of Birmingham, UK.

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.  

Florian Doerr, Associate Professional Officer

Florian Doerr, Associate Professional Officer

Florian Doerr has over a decade of experience in international development, food and agriculture, applied through assignments in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He has worked for universities, environmental NGOs, the German Development Cooperation GIZ, and think tanks like the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD), among others. His current work with FAO focuses on nutrition and food systems, responsible investment in agriculture, as well as communication and partnerships at FAO North America. Mr. Doerr holds a master degree in Global Political Economy from the University of Kassel, Germany. 

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. 

Emily Pliscott, Communications Intern

Emily Pliscott, Communications Intern

Emily Pliscott is a master’s student at the University of Missouri in Agricultural and Applied Economics – Policy Analysis. She has gained experience working for Understanding Data and Markets and collaborating on a horizon scanning project for COVID-19 disruptions to food supply with FAO Africa and the University of Minnesota. Emily has previously interned with National Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Minnesota Milk/Midwest Dairy, where she focused on agricultural policy, communication and events.

Laura Mediavilla, Partnerships Intern

Laura Mediavilla, Partnerships Intern

Laura Mediavilla has gained work experience interning for the Embassy of Spain, The U.S House of Representatives, the World Bank, and the Baker Institute. In addition, she has collaborated with different projects on Human Rights in Venezuela. Most recently, she has interned at the United Nations Information Center in DC Originally from Palencia, Spain, she has lived in France, Ireland, Spain, and the United States. Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs with a double minor in Business Administration and Sustainability from the George Washington University.

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.