Our general assembly and board

The international Fairtrade system is governed by the General Assembly and the Board of Directors.

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Representatives voting at Fairtrade's general assembly, where producers have 50 percent of the vote.
Image © Javier Luna

Members of the international Fairtrade system meet once a year at the General Assembly. This assemblycombines 50 percent producer representation with 50 percent national Fairtrade organization representation, and decides on membership issues, approves the annual accounts, and ratifies new Board members.

There are also annual assemblies for each national Fairtrade organization and the producer networks.

The Board of the international Fairtrade system is elected by the General Assembly and includes:

  • four board members nominated by the three producer networks

  • four board members nominated by the national Fairtrade organizations

  • three independent board members

Fairtrade International board

Lynette Thorstensen (Independent), Board Chair

Lynette Thorstensen was elected Board Chair of Fairtrade International in December 2020 and is currently appointed Safeguarding sponsor at the Fairtrade International board. A New Zealander living and working in France, she has devoted the whole of her career to social and environmental justice. Lynette has held senior executive positions in international sustainable development for more than 30 years. Her previous roles include as Chief Executive of Greenpeace Australia, as Executive Director, Social Development and Environment with the New South Wales Premiers’ Department in Sydney, Australia, as Managing Director of Communications with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development -WBCSD in Geneva, Switzerland and as Consultant Director of Communications with the Global Green Growth Forum -3GF- housed within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lynette has also worked as a consultant advising on multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary partnerships with the overall goal of moving forward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Lynette was the founding Chair of Australians for Native Title, a Board member of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and a founding Board Director of the Sydney Community Foundation.

Miguel Ángel Munguía (Producer representative), Vice-Chair

Miguel Ángel Munguía is CEO of EDUCE SC, a beekeeping cooperative in Yucatán, Mexico. He studied Economics and has a master's degree in rural development. For almost 30 years he has worked in favor of small beekeepers contributing to organizational processes aiming to more direct sales of honey (reducing middlemen). Today, EDUCE has more than a thousand associated producers in the three States of the Yucatan Peninsula, and is both Fairtrade and Organic certified.

Miguel Ángel has been an important promoter of small producers. In 1996 he founded, in partnership with other colleagues, the Latin American Network of Small Beekeepers (PAUAL in Spanish) linked to fair trade. He feels that the spaces created within PAUAL for exchange and training greatly strengthened all the cooperatives. In 2004, together PAUAL and CLA, a coffee network, decided to create CLAC (the Latin America and Caribbean Fair Trade Network of Small Producers and Workers). Miguel Ángel has been a member of the board of CLAC for two periods. He has been a member of the Board of Max Havelaar France as well. He is the founder, together with other activists, of the MAOGM Movement to defend biodiversity, agroecology and the Mayan territory against the threat of Monsanto introducing transgenic soy and pesticides to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Bill Barrett (NFO representative), Vice-Chair

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An advocate for Fair Trade for more than three decades, in 1997 Bill Barrett formed a Fairtrade coffee roasting worker cooperative in Canada, which became a founding licensee of Fairtrade Canada. He has been in governance leadership positions in a variety of coops, NGOs, businesses and a labour union.

Bill has worked directly with producer coops around the world on different projects. He is also a photographer and an independent documentary film maker. He has been on the board of Fairtrade Canada since 2016.

Frank Harnischfeger (Independent), Treasurer

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Frank Harnischfeger is currently the Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer of the Forest Stewardship Council, the world’s most trusted forest certification. He oversees the organization’s operations in 90 countries, the global Policy Development, Markets & Communications, Technology & Innovation as well as the management functions Finance, Human Resources, Legal & Information Technology. Frank is also a member of the Board of the ISEAL Alliance and the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee (IOAC) of the International Labor Organization in Geneva.

Prior to his current roles, Frank was a Director at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC where he was accountable for the operations, technology and infrastructure of the institution with its more than 100 locations globally. In this context he joined the United Nations’ High Level Committee on Management (HLCM) for nearly a decade. Before that he held a variety of senior positions in the private sector in supply chain, finance, technology and consulting.

Kouame N’dri Benjamin-Francklin (Producer representative)

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Kouame N’dri Benjamin-Francklin has been a cocoa producer in Côte d'Ivoire for 20 years. He has a business background and has worked in several companies before becoming a cocoa producer. He is the president of the agricultural cooperative ECAM based in Yamoussoukro. He was the president of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of the Lakes Region (UCALACS) in Côte d’Ivoire and was a member of the Côte d’Ivoire coffee and cocoa sector reform committee. He was the secretary general of the National Association of Cocoa Coffee Producers of Côte d’Ivoire, a member of the board of directors of the Interprofessional Fund for Research and Agricultural Council (FIRCA) of Côte d'Ivoire and responsible for the economic and financial commission of the said organization. He was a member of the technical secretariat of the steering committee for the establishment of the college of coffee and cocoa producers in Côte d’Ivoire. In addition, he was secretary general of the board of directors of the Federation of Organizations of Cocoa Coffee Producers of Côte d’Ivoire (FOP.CC).

Kouame N’dri Benjamin-Francklin is currently appointed to the Governance Committee of the Fairtrade International Board. He is also the elected delegate of the Fairtrade Africa producers for Côte d’Ivoire and of the West Africa Network (WAN), a member of Fairtrade Africa’s Board of Directors, and of the Fairtrade Africa Markets Steering Committee.

Merling Preza Ramos (Producer representative)

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Merling Preza Ramos is a Nicaraguan smallholder coffee producer and CEO of PRODECOOP, R.L. Since 1989, she has collaborated with Nicaraguan producing cooperatives in institutional strengthening, funding, training, technical assistance, and commercialization. Since 1993, Merling has accompanied coffee producing cooperatives in their commercialization and positioning in the international market, by targeting the specialties market and defining internal and external strategies. The different representation positions she has held have mainly focused on establishing and defending organized smallholder producers’ interests and adding value to organizations and institutions, especially in Fair Trade.

Merling has served as former Board Chair of CAFENICA, Vice-president of CONACOOP/Nicaragua, Board Member of FENIAGRO, President of the Nicaraguan Fair Trade Coordinator, former Board Chair of CLAC and current Vice-president of CLAC, former President of RED CAFÉ Coordinator/CLAC, former Board Chair of Cooperativa Sin Fronteras, Board Member of CSF, former Guardian President of TWIN/England, former Fairtrade Foundation Board Member/England, former Board Member of OCIA INTERNACIONAL/USA, and Fair Trade America Board Member.

Gnanasekaran Rajaratnam (Producer representative)

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Gnanasekaran Rajaratnam has several decades of experiences in the sugar and tea industry, including working for 28 years at the Organic Tea and Social Development Project supporting Plantation and Small Farmers Organizations, currently as Senior Executive.

He has also held several honorary positions in many organizations. Those include including being the Chairman of the Fairtrade Producers of Sri Lanka, National Network of Fairtrade FPASL, being an adviser to the Lankananada Educational Trust of Sri Lanka, and being a member of the Bio Dynamic Farming Association of India.

Wambui Chege (Independent)

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Wambui Chege has been involved in the Fairtrade network since 2016 when she joined Fairtrade Africa as an independent Board member. She served as chair of the governance committee and the technical advisory committee, responsible for implementing far-reaching reforms across Africa. Now an independent consultant focused on agribusiness and financial inclusion, Wambui was previously director of agribusiness at KPMG East Africa, 2014-2019. Prior to that, she was head of sustainable agribusiness advisory, Sub-Saharan Africa, at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank. She has also worked as a commodities and financial markets correspondent with Reuters in Africa. With over 25 years’ experience, Wambui Chege is a seasoned advisory services professional with experience in international and private sector development in Sub-Saharan Africa, the US and Asia. An experienced Board Director, Wambui is currently the Independent Chair of Making Finance Work for Africa, an independent initiative hosted by the African Development Bank, focused on the development of African financial sectors.

Wambui is currently appointed to the Governance Committee of the Fairtrade International board.

Rhea Beltrami (NFO representative)

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Rhea Beltrami is Head of Agriculture of the State of Zurich. Prior to that she was Head of Sustainable Procurement at Coop, one of Switzerland’s leading retailers. She also previously worked as Supply Chain Director and Member of the Executive Team at McDonald’s Switzerland, and was a Member of the Executive Board of the Swiss Farmers’ Union.

Rhea Beltrami brings extensive management and leadership experience in trade, retail, agricultural production processing, logistics and public administration. She has very broad expertise in supply chain management with international scope and a vast knowledge of sustainability strategies in the fast moving and changing markets of consumer goods. Due to her time working in the public sector, she is also accustomed to dealing with challenging political topics and advocacy work.

Rhea Beltrami sits on Fairtrade International’s NAPP Task Force Committee, and is also a member of the Max Havelaar Switzerland Board.

Andrea Debbané (NFO representative)

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Andrea Debbané is Head of Global Sustainability at Kuehne + Nagel. A senior executive with extensive international experience and leadership in sustainability, strategy, stakeholder engagement, marketing and communications, she was most recently CEO of FLOCERT. Prior to this, she established and served as Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation for 12 years, supporting the humanitarian community with emergency response services as well as working with NGOs and social entrepreneurs to support the development and education of young people worldwide. She was also VP Responsibility & Sustainability at Airbus as well as Head of Environment Affairs, working with the aviation sector, governments and NGOs on the decarbonization of the sector. Before joining Airbus, Andrea worked for the Coca-Cola Company in Japan and Asia for ten years and started her career with the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa, Canada in technology policy.

Andrea also sits on the Fairtrade International Board’s Recruitment Committee and the Nominations Committee.

Laurence Tanty (NFO representative)

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Laurence Tanty is a seasoned international executive with over 30 years of experience in the Industrial and Consumer goods industries. She has worked for a variety of organisations including private equity, family and listed businesses, as well as NGOs, delivering on sustainable growth strategies and leading innovative business turnarounds. Laurence brings a multi-cultural perspective to senior leadership, which she developed over years of living and working across Europe and the Americas. She speaks fluent English, Spanish, German, French and Dutch. She is a firm believer that diversity of experiences and backgrounds is key to creating value within organisations. She is a graduate of The Wharton School and of ESCP Europe.

Laurence is a member of the Nominations Committee of the Fairtrade International Board. She also sits on the Board of Fairtrade Belgium.