The Global Forum's Secretariat provides support to the Partners’ Assembly, the Steering Committee and to the Partners in GFAR, catalysing their collective actions as they work together to transform agricultural research and innovation for greater impact in sustainable development. Located in the FAO Headquarters in Rome, the Secretariat is a tightly-focused team, comprising the GFAR Executive Secretary, senior officers/advisers responsible for specific areas of operation and administrative and technical staff. For any questions or suggestions, please contact the team at GFAR-secretariat[at]fao[dot]org

Current staff of the Secretariat:

Prof. Dr. Hildegard Lingnau

Executive Secretary

Hildegard Lingnau is a development professional with more than 32 years of experience in research, policy development and management positions in institutions and countries all over the world: with one of the top ten leading sustainable development think tanks (German Development Institute, GDI), with governments in Africa (Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia), Asia (Cambodia) and the Arab World (Palestine), with German government and implementing organizations (GIZ, BMZ and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and with international organizations (OECD, WFP).

She is a German National, qualified as a Professor at Siegen University (Habilitation). She holds a PhD (Dr.rer.pol.) in Development Economics and a Masters (Diplom) in Political Science from the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. She also studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP) Paris, the German University of Administrative Sciences (HfV) Speyer and completed post-graduate studies at the German Development Institute (GDI).

Hildegard is (inter alia) a member of the Advisory Board of the UNU Institute for National Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) and the German Association of University Professors (DHV).

Hildegard is married and has two grown-up children.


Caroline Muganda

Programme Officer

Caroline Muganda joined GFAR in May 2021. She currently manages the budgetary, programming and provides advice on admin related policies to support the management and delivery of GFAR activities. She previously was part of the operations team in FAO Bangladesh and Malawi working on Emergency and Resilience projects since 2016 and also worked as a Programme Officer in FAO sub regional office in Abu Dhabi that covers the GCC Arab states and Yemen.  She has more than 15 years UN experience in project management, budget formulation and reporting having worked with the World Food Programme IT emergency and response unit.


Charles Plummer

Office Assistant/Communications Support

Charles Plummer has been part of the GFAR Secretariat team since 2009. He has provided logistics and communications support for all three Global Conferences on Agricultural Research for Development held in 2010, 2012 and 2016. Charles managed GFAR’s communications and outreach from 2014 to 2018, and has regularly provided administrative and partner management support. He is from the United States and has been living in Italy since 2006.


Alessandro Meschinelli

Consultant - Innovation adviser, Collective Action for Forgotten Foods

Alessandro Meschinelli holds a degree in Political Science completed by a Master in Environment-Population-Development, with further training in Eco-Pedagogy . After working for a private firm and the Italian Foreign Trade promotion institution, he joined the UN system in 1992 as evaluator of projects and then research officer at IFAD. He managed a multimillion grants portfolio enhancing the participation of smallholders farmers to knowledge generation as a means to empower them and increase the adoption of innovations jointly developed with scientists and technicians. Alessandro joined GFAR in 2017 to Coordinate the area of « Empowering farmers at the Center of Innovation » contributing to shaping its Collective Actions according to co-innovation and co-research principles applied to the governance of research.


Valeria Pesce

Consultant - Partnership facilitator and digital innovation adviser

Valeria Pesce has worked for more than 15 years in the areas of knowledge management, data sharing and more recently data policies, especially concerning agri-food data and digital agriculture. She was already Project Manager at GFAR for 13 years until 2018. She had consultancies with CTA and the World Bank on digital agriculture policies and previous collaborations with FAO on agricultural data standards. She joined GFAR again in 2021 as partnerships facilitator and digital innovation adviser and is currently facilitating a global Collective Action on Inclusive Digital Transformation of Agriculture and coordinating efforts around the GFAR members' engagement principles and new Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning approach.


Tommaso Teti

Partnership and resource mobilization specialist

Tommaso Teti holds a Master’s Degree in Economics (Development Economics) and a post-graduate Master in European Studies and Project Management. He has more than 15-year experience in international cooperation, in the areas of project management and resource mobilization. He has worked for different types of entities mainly in developing countries: NGOs, Chambers of Commerce, Research Centres, Universities, Private companies and other private associations, European Institutions, UN agencies and other Public Institutions. He joined FAO in 2016 and successively GFAR in 2022 to prepare and implement a GFAR’s Partnership and Resource Mobilization Strategy, which has the objective of ensuring GFAR with the necessary means to carry out its mandate. His tasks include: identification of funding opportunities, engagement with resource partners, development and negotiation of proposals and agreements, including support to the Secretariat to project and financial management.


Marina Cherbonnier

Membership Coordinator

Marina Cherbonnier is an international community and network coordinator with 12-year professional experience. She supported YPARD: the international network of young professionals for sustainable food systems, CIVICUS: a global alliance strengthening citizen participation and the pilot of the FAO’s AMR Behaviour Change Community of Practice. She is a co-founder of YIL: the Youth In Landscapes initiative and represented CIVICUS as a Steering Group member of the Bridge 47 initiative, co-funded by the European Union. She was elected as the YPARD Steering Committee chairperson in 2020-2021. Marina is a graduate with a Master’s degree in Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) from the University of Manchester, the UK and a Master’s degree in Information and Documentation sciences from the UCO, Angers, France. Marina joint GFAR in September 2022 and is developing the membership strategy, platform and engagement processes.


Fernando Antunez


Fernando Antunez joined GFAR in August 2022, just after finishing his studies in International Relations. He has been working closely with the membership strategy, reviewing and validating membership applications to update and improve GFAR’s database. Additionally to his primary job functions, he also provides support in different tasks related to the Collective Actions and other projects that GFAR is currently carrying out. Fernando is passionate about spending time outdoors and cooking healthy and tasty recipes.


Ewa Czerwien

Programme Assistant

Ewa Czerwien is a Polish national and holds a Master's Degree in International Relations from the Jagiellonian University. She joined FAO in 2018 and worked within the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat providing administrative support to the Governance and to the implementation and facilitation activities of the Secretariat. Before joining FAO she worked in finance and administration for the private sector and NGOs, with a focus on international cooperation projects. She is currently enrolled in a Master on Project Management and spends her free time hiking with her family and her dog.