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Dr. Maria Elisa Christie

Dr. Maria Elisa Christie is the Director of Women and Gender in International Development (WGD), housed at the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) at Virginia Tech. She has more than 25 years of experience in international development. Throughout her career, she has worked with a variety of development, research, and non-governmental agencies around the developing world, along with local, state, and federal governments in the United States and Mexico. Christie has played a key role in launching new projects that support international collaboration. Christie’s research focuses on gendered spaces and everyday life in nature/society relations, participatory research methodologies, kitchens and gardens, and women’s reciprocity networks. She has published a book, Kitchenspace: Women, Fiestas, and Everyday Life in Central Mexico, with the University of Texas Press. More recently, she has published articles on gender and development in: the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography; Agriculture and Human Values; Development in Practice; GeoJournal; Gender, Technology and Development, Gender and Education; and the International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology.

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Dr. Donna Westfall-Rudd

Dr. Donna Westfall-Rudd is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education where she works with undergraduate students planning careers as secondary agricultural education teachers and doctoral students planning to pursue faculty positions with teaching appointments. Embedded in all of her work in teaching and learning is an emphasis on developing teachers as allies for all underrepresented people in agriculture. Her educational program planning work also includes collaborations with women agricultural community educators and university faculty in Senegal.


Dr. Ralph Hall

Dr. Ralph Hall is an Associate Professor in the Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program and is the Director of the Undergraduate Program in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at Virginia Tech. He has over a decade of academic and professional experience in applying the concept of sustainable development to infrastructure systems with a specific emphasis on transportation systems in developed regions, and rural water supply and sanitation systems in developing regions. Ralph has co-led two major research projects that studied the emerging concept of multiple-use water services (MUS) in Colombia, Senegal, and Kenya for the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), and evaluated a rural water program in Nampula, Mozambique for the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Ralph has also published two significant co-authored works on “Sustainable Transportation: Indicators, Frameworks, and Performance Management” (2015) and “Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State” (2018). Since 2016, and following the tragic loss of a library at Mzuzu University (Mzuni) in Malawi, Ralph has co-led the Mzuni Library Initiative that shipped over 8,000 books to Malawi in 2017 and has developed the conceptual designs for a new state-of-the art library for Mzuni.

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Dr. George Norton

Dr. George Norton is professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. His research and teaching focus on agricultural development, agricultural research evaluation, and integrated pest management. George has extensive research experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Recent books include Hunger and Hope: Escaping Poverty and Achieving Food Security in Developing Countries and Economics of Agricultural Development, with Jeffrey Alwang and William Masters. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.