Beyene Gessesse joined McKnight in November 2021 as a program officer for the International program. He works at the cutting edge of agroecological solutions—contributing to a global portfolio of research projects and investments that create equitable and sustainable options for smallholder farmers and food systems.

Beyene brings more than 10 years of experience focused on local food systems, agroecology, and poverty reduction. He has extensive experience in rural development and food security initiatives, working with farmers, researchers, development practitioners, and funders. One highlight of his career was serving as project supervisor and expert for the Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme in Ethiopia, which aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity by improving smallholder farmers’ use of quality seed varieties.

While living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Beyene co-founded and led Praxis Consulting, conducting projects in business and research analysis, change management, and evaluation. He holds an MSc in international development studies from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, and a BA in management from Mekelle University in Tigray, Ethiopia, where he also served as a lecturer. Beyene is a soccer fan and a naturalist, and he enjoys taking walks in the woods and visiting rivers and other bodies of water near his town of Plymouth, Minnesota.