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The Coffee Quality Institute Launches Women in Coffee Leadership Program
Press release from Coffee Quality Institute, Date: August 29, 2005
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(Long Beach, CA) -- The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) has developed a new program aimed at bringing together women in the coffee industry from Central America, Dominican Republic, and North America to form ongoing relationships of strength and empowerment.  This program is designed to develop the diverse talents of women at work in the industry in Central American countries, strengthening their leadership and technical skills so that they may stronger more effective leaders in their home countries and take on broader leadership roles in the global coffee community.  

The yearlong program is built around four seminars.  The first seminar will take place August 8-11, 2005 at the INCAE campus in Costa Rica will start with a key note address by Mary J. Williams, formerly with Starbucks Coffee Company and an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience.  Twelve women from seven different coffee producing countries representing all facets of the industry have been selected to participate.  

When asked about the catalyst for this program, Margaret Swallow, Executive Director of the Coffee Quality Institute responded, “Coffee is the number one most widely traded agricultural product in the world and it is estimated that there are more than 75 million who rely on coffee production for their livelihoods.  It is important that we continually challenge ourselves to ensure that everyone involved benefits”.  She continues, “There is no way to estimate how many women are included in this figure, but based on my experience and travels, there are women involved in all areas of coffee production and distribution.  Although women throughout the world are realizing greater opportunities for education and career advancement, there are still challenges that are unique to women and our goal is foster ongoing relationships that will help women overcome those challenges”.

Each Fellow will be partnered with a Mentor and the goal is for the Fellow and Mentor to develop a strong coaching relationship.  Additionally, each Fellow will make a trip to her Mentor’s place of business.  The program also includes a commercial delegation trip for four program representatives to Japan as part of the broader effort to increase awareness and support for Central American-Dominican coffees among Japanese roasters.  In addition, the Fellows are required to create a legacy project whereby they implement a project that helps to improve the lives of others within the coffee industry in their countries.  The Fellows include:

  • Faye Campos
  • Grace Mena
  • Begona Paliza
  • Aida Batlle
  • Lorena Pacas
  • Lorena Calvo
  • Esther Eskenasy
  • Miguelina Villatoro
  • Helga Schweinfurth
  • Dania Alvarez-Baltodano
  • Ruth Elizondo
  • Maria Elisa Ruiz

The Mentors were selected on the basis of their significant business experience and record of leadership within the industry.  Each of the following Mentors will volunteer approximately 200 hours over the twelve-month period:

  • Phyllis Baldenhofer - Founding Member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America
  • Tina Berard - Vice President, Atlantic Specialty Coffee
  • Kathy Berardo - Business Distribution Manager & Director of Customer Service, Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company
  • Karen Cebreros - Founder and President, Elan Organic Coffees
  • Leonora Gavina-Valls - Vice President, F. Gavina & Sons Inc.
  • Phyllis Johnson - President, BD Imports, Inc.
  • Deb Jones - Vice President of Training and Development, Caribou Coffee Company
  • Mireya Jones - CEO, Dona Mireya, Inc.
  • Becky McKinnon - Executive Chairman, Timothy’s World Coffee
  • Linda Smithers - President, Susan’s Coffee and Tea
  • Trish Skeie - Roastmaster, Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company

The curriculum was developed by CQI in partnership with INCAE and the Aspen Institute.  Serving as advisors are Ellen Jordan Reidy, President and Founder of America’s Food Technologies, Inc. and Mary Petit, Executive Vice President of the Colombian Coffee Federation and Second Vice President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.  The first installment of this program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Guatemala-Central America Program Mission.

The Coffee Quality Institute® (CQI) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it.  Using business solutions to help people, CQI is creating highly efficient and economically-sustainable models so that coffee farmers have the opportunity to not only improve their incomes today but to make investments in their future and the future of their community.  In addition to the Women in Coffee Leadership Program, its programs include Coffee Corps® and the Q® Auctions.  Coffee is the number one most widely traded agricultural commodity in the world and CQI is helping to ensure that everyone along the value chain prospers.

INCAE is a private, non-profit, multinational, higher-education organization devoted to teaching and research endeavors in the fields of business and economics aimed at training and instructing, from a worldwide perspective, individuals capable of successfully holding top management positions in Latin America.

The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, is an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values.

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