Jane Maland Cady is the founding director of McKnight Foundation’s international program. During her tenure, she has overseen the growth and vision of McKnight’s global portfolio, leading to its focus on agroecology and food systems.
Today the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems (CRFS) operates established communities of practice (CoPs) in ten countries in the Andes, West Africa, and East and Southern Africa. Each CoP is comprised of locally-based teams of scientists, farmer researchers, and community leaders, as well as international consultants in agroecology, policy, research, and communications. Jane leads with systems thinking. In 2023, she and her global team began to implement a new strategy to elevate this local CoP work with the aim of influencing food systems at a global level. The CRFS is building agroecological evidence to scale up, out, and deep, fueled by collaborations with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers engaged in co-creation.
Jane is also active in international food-systems efforts with peer organizations. As the steering committee co-chair of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, which she helped launch, she continues her dedication to transforming food systems through collaborative leadership and farmer-centered strategies. Prior to joining McKnight, Jane was a private consultant in research and evaluation, community development, agriculture, fair trade, and natural and organic food value chains. She nimbly leverages that experience to advance efforts to drive change in both the public and private sectors.
Raised on a farm in the Midwest, Jane has deep roots in agriculture. She earned her masters degree and PhD at the University of Minnesota, with a focus on liberatory education and agroecology. Through work and research in Latin America, Jane developed a deep appreciation for ecological approaches, collective action, creative farmer-driven solutions, and local-regional food systems innovation.
When work isn’t calling, Jane is singing with friends, playing softball, tending apple trees, and growing other fruits and vegetables on a special piece of Minnesota land that she stewards with her family.