11 Jan 2021
Fairtrade announces two new leadership appointments
Fairtrade International is pleased to announce two interim leadership appointments ahead of CEO Dario Soto Abril’s departure in February.
Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o will take on the role of interim Fairtrade Global CEO. Based in Nairobi, Nyagoy will begin on a full-time basis on 25 January 2021. Melissa Duncan has been named interim Fairtrade International Executive Director, based in Bonn, beginning 5 February 2021.
Nyagoy served as the Executive Director of Fairtrade Africa from 2013 to December 2020, but has a long history with Fairtrade, having also been an auditor for Max Havelaar Switzerland and FLOCERT. Born and brought up in Kenya by a mother who was a farmer and witnessing the struggles she bore, Nyagoy’s passion for improved livelihoods for small-scale farmers and workers deepened over the years.
At Fairtrade Africa, Nyagoy was instrumental in promoting increased representation and visibility of small-scale farmers and workers, through strengthening governance structures and growing the organization from a staff of 16 to almost 100 with well-established regional offices in Accra, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Town and Nairobi. During her term, Fairtrade Africa saw a tenfold increase in its annual budget with a substantial increase in donor interest in the organization. Nyagoy also served on the steering committee that led the development of Fairtrade’s International’s Strategy 2021-2025.
Nyagoy has worked within multi-cultural environments where, apart from short-term missions in many African countries and in Europe, she has also lived and worked in Ghana, Togo, Tanzania, Kenya, U.S. and Switzerland. She holds MSc and PhD degrees in Forest Biology from Iowa State University and a BSc in Forestry from the University of Nairobi.
Fairtrade International also announces the appointment of Melissa Duncan as interim Fairtrade International Executive Director, based in Bonn. Melissa has served on the Fairtrade International Board since 2015 and was elected as Treasurer in 2017 and Vice Chair in 2020. She will step down from those Board roles on 5 February in order take up her new position.
Melissa is an American currently living in the UK. She is a shareholder director of a private investment company in the north of England with a majority holding in a start-up lingerie design business and property investments. Melissa has many years of experience in the ethical trade movement, including five years working for a leading Fair Trade organization and development charity in the UK and serving as a Trustee and Vice Chair of the UK Fairtrade Foundation for six years.
Melissa’s 20-year background in marketing and communications spans corporate and charity sectors, including WHSmith plc, where she was head of communications. Melissa also worked in East Asia for a number of years, before moving to the UK to do an MBA at Cranfield University and ultimately settling there.
According to Fairtrade International Board Chair, Lynette Thorstensen, the new leadership roles will be complementary in supporting the delivery of the organization’s new, five-year global strategy. Melissa, as Fairtrade International’s Executive Director, will be at the helm of the central office in Bonn to deliver services and support to the Fairtrade system. Nyagoy’s role as Fairtrade Global CEO will focus on maintaining consistency and alignment across the Fairtrade movement, while acting as the Chair of the newly-established global Fairtrade Executive Team, which includes three national office representatives, and a representative from each Producer Network. The CEO of FLOCERT and the Executive Director of Fairtrade International will act as observers. Nyagoy will also serve as Fairtrade’s principal global spokesperson. Both positions will report to the Fairtrade International Board.
Lynette Thorstensen explained, “This new structure is one of the first innovative initiatives we are taking as part of Fairtrade’s 2021-2025 global strategy. We are coming into the strategy more invigorated and focused than ever on our mission to amplify the voices of millions of farmers and workers around the world, as we work to achieve sustainable and decent livelihoods for them all.”