FAO Liaison Office in New York

Our team

Guangzhou QU, Director

Guangzhou QU, Director

Guangzhou QU is the Director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York. He joined in January 2021.

Mr QU, a national of China, holds a Master of Arts in World History from Nankai University in China, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Anhui Normal University in China. He studied English at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He was also a Visiting Fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, United States.

He joined FAO headquarters in 2019 as Special Adviser to the Director-General and was subsequently appointed Deputy Directeur de Cabinet in the Office of the Director-General.

Prior to joining FAO, from 2015 to 2019, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Wellington, New Zealand. From 2013 to 2015, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

He started his career in 1997 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and held increasingly senior positions at home and abroad. In 2000, he was posted as Attaché in the Chinese Permanent Mission to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands. In 2006, he was appointed Special Advisor to the Ambassador for Nuclear Issues in the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) and other International Organizations in Vienna, Austria. In 2010, he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Beijing and served as Director of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament.

Halka Otto, Senior Liaison Officer

Halka Otto, Senior Liaison Officer

A Senior Officer with almost 30 years of professional experience in positions of progressively increasing responsibility at national and international levels, including many years in advising FAO Executives (Office of the Director-General and Deputy Director-General). Ms Otto is a German national that has worked as an international civil servant for non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies. She holds a Master’s degree in Soil Sciences and Agro-chemistry from the Timiryasev Academy in Moscow.

Ms Otto started her career in Central Asia where she worked for German Agroaction, and subsequently became the FAO Head of Office in Tajikistan. In October 2004, she moved to the FAO Headquarters in Rome where she managed technical cooperation portfolios for Asia, Europe, and Central Asia and Pacific. From 2006 onwards, she served in positions with increasing seniority, advising two consecutive Directors-General. In October 2013, she was appointed Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, advising on effective leadership, management and coordination (strategic/political) for the technical arm of the organization.

After 14 years of experience in the FAO Headquarters, in 2019 Ms Otto moved to the FAO Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York as a Senior Liaison Officer.

Through her work, she has acquired excellent knowledge in FAO technical fields related to topics like natural resources management in the agriculture sectors (agriculture, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity, genetic resources), sustainable development, climate change, rural development, food and nutrition security, 2030 Agenda, UN Reform, Rome-based Agencies, and Small Island Development States, among others. She feels strongly committed to teamwork, transparency, and the value-for-money concept.

Lucas Tavares, Senior Liaison Officer

Lucas Tavares, Senior Liaison Officer

Lucas Tavares is a sustainable development specialist and journalist with over 25 years of experience. He joined FAO in 2007, in Chile, as communications consultant at the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, later transferred to Rome as adviser to former Director-General José Graziano da Silva and currently serves as Senior Liaison Officer at the Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Lucas organized national FAO communication teams into an informal regional network, partnered with media organizations to showcase FAO’s work, and led the development of a food safety campaign targeting indigenous communities in their own languages.

In Rome, Lucas was the Director-General’s speechwriter, contributed to the implementation of and reporting on FAO’s programme of work and supported high-level engagements with UN and other partners.

At FAO New York, Lucas is part of a small team contributing to positioning food and agriculture in the UN agenda, supporting Member States as they debate and negotiate issues on the global agenda, and working with other members of the UN family to increase coordination and delivery.

Before joining FAO, Lucas worked in public and private print and online media, TV, and radio, as a producer, reporter, editor, live events coordinator, and foreign correspondent.

Lucas has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Policy and Government.

Conor Elliott, Humanitarian and Resilience Liaison Officer

Conor Elliott, Humanitarian and Resilience Liaison Officer

In April 2019 Conor joined the FAO Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York, bringing 20 years of professional experience in managing large humanitarian and development operations, and complex programmes in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for private-for-profit, not-for-profit, NGOs, and civil society organisations.  

Prior to joining the FAO team in New York, Conor worked for FAO in Afghanistan as a Resilience Programme Development Officer, and before that, at FAO Headquarters in Rome where he supported the work of emergency programmes in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Conor’s work in the international NGO sector culminated in his role as  Director of International Programmes for a large INGO, where he managed the work of 18 country offices and the delivery of programmes (circa €200m) in a range of conflict, post-conflict, and fragile states, as well as for more stable environments in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Conor has also spent many years working as a consultant for private sector firms, and has specific experience leading strategy development and advising Senior Management on delivering programmes and expanding businesses in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. During the last 20 years, Conor has been directly responsible for managing over 500 million dollars in contracts from international organisations and governments, including multiple United Nations (UN) agencies.

In New York, Conor leads FAO’s engagement in in the agendas of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, resilience and climate change, including conflict, food crises, refugees, returnees and climate change, specifically as they relate to FAO's mandate. Conor also facilitates the representation of the Global Network against Food Crises with Member States and UN agencies in New York.

Conor has a master’s degree in the Sociology of Globalisation and Development.

Shen Hong, Liaison Officer

Shen Hong, Liaison Officer

Mr. Hong Shen brings nearly 15 years of experience in serving in the public sector domestically and internationally.

He joined FAO in October 2020 as a liaison officer with the portfolio of engaging with UN entities, Member States, and other New York local stakeholders under the broad framework of SDG1 and SDG2. Before joining FAO, he was serving from 2019 to 2020 in the Sustainable Development Unit within the UN Secretary-General’s Office, covering tasks related to poverty, equality, STI, as well as monitoring relative intergovernmental processes within the UN HQ.

Prior to his career within the UN system, he spent 4 years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China as the desk officer to liaise with Rome Based Agencies, World Economic Forum, ECOSOC and the Second Committee of the General Assembly. It fell into his portfolio conducting a number of researches on global macroeconomic and financial affairs within the Department of International Economic Affairs. He developed extensive field work expertise thanks to the 6 years (2008-2014) experience in the Chinese Embassy in Rome, where he was tasked with both bilateral and multilateral responsibilities to engage local stakeholders. In 2014, he worked briefly in a provincial government in China to support local development agenda. Mr. Hong holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomatic Practice from the University of Oxford in UK.

He graduated from the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China with a Bachelor of Art in Italian Studies.

Mattia Romano, Communications Coordinator

Mattia Romano, Communications Coordinator

Mattia joined LON in June 2022. Since 2018 Mattia has worked as Head of communications with the FAO Representation in South Sudan, where he provided communications, advocacy, and outreach solutions for FAO projects and initiatives.

He started working with FAO in Rome headquarters in 2014 as a Communication for Development Volunteer and then served the Office of Communications, where he managed content on the corporate website's main platforms, promoted international events and provided support to technical units, decentralized offices and partners.

Before joining FAO, Mattia worked as an Advocacy Associate with the Embassy of Italy in Malaysia and Caritas Internationalis in Geneva. He has studied Diplomatic Affairs and International Development across Europe, Russia, Latin America and Asia and is fluent in four UN official languages.

Katherine Clyne, Information and Knowledge Management on Sustainable Development Expert

Katherine Clyne, Information and Knowledge Management on Sustainable Development Expert

Katherine holds over twelve years of experience at the UN in programme development and implementation, and information and knowledge management on matters related to agriculture, forestry, land use and climate change.

She works with the FAO Liaison Office team on issues of climate change, biodiversity, forestry and the environment and in particular the connection to food security, poverty reduction, sustainable production and consumption, and environmental sustainability.

Previously, she worked as a programme specialist for the UN-REDD Programme, which works to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in 65 countries. She has carried out research and analysis, contributed to project formulation, programme coordination, and information and knowledge management.

She has also contributed to the organization of a number of international conferences and events. In 2019 she was part of the facilitation team of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit nature-based solutions track. Most recently she has led FAO’s outreach and knowledge management for the XV World Forestry Congress.

She holds an MSc in Managing Rural Development from the Center of Environment, Development and Policy, SOAS, University of London.

Doris Ngirwa-Mpesha, Sustainable Development Advisor

Doris Ngirwa-Mpesha, Sustainable Development Advisor

Doris Ngirwa-Mpesha joined the FAO Liaison Office in New York in 2017, as a focal point for issues related to human rights, humanitarian affairs, indigenous peoples, youth, and international migration. She is a lawyer who has worked in the court and judicial systems of Tanzania and the United States. 

Doris also covers issues in the context of the United Nations General Assembly such as Third Committee of the General Assembly on Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Issues and United Nations Economic and Social Council. Doris’s other areas of focus are UN Reform; the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States; UN Reform and African Affairs.

Doris holds a Master’s degree in Public International Law from the University College London, a Master of Business Administration from Concordia University in Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Laws  from University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa.

Claudia Scuriatti, Sustainable Development Specialist

Claudia Scuriatti, Sustainable Development Specialist

Claudia joined the FAO New York Liaison Office in April 2021 where she has been leading the development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind analytical tool to track and evaluate FAO’s engagement and relevance in the UN System and relevant discussions. She follows the work of the UNGA Second Committee, the Commission of Social Development and the High-Level Political Forum. In addition, she also supports outreach activities with New York-based youth actors.

Before joining the team in New York, she worked as a Value Chain and Agribusiness Consultant for the FAO Agrifood Economics Division (ESA). In this capacity, she provided technical support to partner agencies on food value chain analysis and supported in-country work on youth employment in food value chains in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Guatemala. 

Spanning across the private sector, NGOs, and government institutions, Claudia brings with her over 5 years of experience on international development issues, evaluation, and monitoring of UN programmes and, as well as extensive knowledge on the use of blockchain for sustainable development.

Claudia is an Italian citizen and holds a B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from LUISS University and an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. As part of this latter degree, she worked on a consultancy project for the Inter American Development Bank, for which she prepared a policy guide on the use of blockchain for better governance

Ciara Kavanagh, Sustainable Development Consultant

Ciara Kavanagh, Sustainable Development Consultant

Ciara joined the New York FAO Liaison Office in October of 2021, bringing with her Sustainable Development experience spanning government, NGO and international organization settings. Previously, she served in the Executive Office of the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations in New York, with a particular focus on climate and development issues such as biodiversity, wildlife economy, poverty alleviation, food security and digital development across LDCs and climate vulnerable regions. 

Based in New York since 2018, Ciara is an Irish citizen and an inaugural graduate of the Dual BA between Columbia University in the City of New York and Trinity College, Dublin. She holds a B.A. in European Studies, and a B.A. in Political Science with a thematic focus on international environmental policy.

Nicolás Díaz Castellanos, Communications Specialist

Nicolás Díaz Castellanos, Communications Specialist

Nicolás joined the FAO New York Liaison Office in May 2021. He first joined FAO in 2015, at the Office for Communications in Rome headquarters, before moving to Guatemala as a Junior Professional Officer (JPO) working on policy dialogue and strategic communications support for social protection, productive inclusion, and SDG monitoring. Since 2020 he has been a Reporting and Outreach Specialist for FAO’s Resource Mobilization and Private Partnerships Division, as well as for the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience.

He holds an MSc in Development Studies (London School of Economics and Political Science) and an MSc in Sustainable Development (University of Sussex). He brings 10 years of communications, outreach, and policy support experience, spanning FAO, the International Criminal Court and the U.S., Colombian, Iraqi and New Zealand governments.

Aliya Diawara, Sustainable Development Consultant

Aliya Diawara, Sustainable Development Consultant

Aliya joined the FAO Liaison Office in New York in January 2022. She brings with her experience spanning diverse sectors, having worked previously for the private sector but also for International Development Organizations and NGOs. Prior to joining FAO, Aliya served as an Economic Affairs Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Guinea-Bissau to the United Nations, where she focused on the United Nations General Assembly Second and Third Committees, with a particular emphasis on issues pertaining to financing for development, sustainable development, eradication of poverty and food security and nutrition.

Aliya is based in NYC since 2012, she holds a B.A in Political Science and International Development from Sarah Lawrence College, as well as a Master of International Affairs, with a concentration in Economic Development from Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.

Elisa Noetinger, Office Associate

Elisa Noetinger, Office Associate

Elisa Noetinger joined the FAO Liaison Office in New York in August 2016, as an Assistant to the Director. Prior to joining FAO, she worked as a translator for the Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations in New York, as well as for the Embassies of Peru and Spain in London. A graduate in Translation and Intercultural Communication from Birkbeck College University of London, Elisa comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Panagiotis Mitoglou, Administrative Officer

Panagiotis Mitoglou, Administrative Officer

Panagiotis Mitoglou joined the FAO Liaison Office in New York in June 2015. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Aegean University in Greece, and a Master’s degree in Political Science and Government from the Long Island University. Prior to joining FAO, Panagiotis worked with various property management businesses in New York City. He has extensive experience in contract administration, budgetary and finance planning, as well as recruitment processes.