Core Team

Core Team

Dr. Krisztina Tihanyi, Executive Director Dr. Krisztina Tihanyi, Executive Director
Krisztina Tihanyi serves as TASAI Inc.’s Executive Director, overseeing the organization’s operations growth, as well as strategic and financial planning. She is also closely involved in the review and edit of TASAI publications. She has over fifteen years of experience in international development and nonprofit management. Prior to joining TASAI Inc. she worked as Chief Operating Officer at Market Matters Inc., a US-based development organization working in Africa. A Ph.D. graduate of Cornell University, Kriszta's academic background includes degrees in Psychology (BS), International Peace Studies (MA), and Anthropology (Ph.D.). She is based in Ithaca, New York, USA.

Mainza Mugoya, Regional Coordinator Mainza Mugoya, Regional Coordinator
Mainza Mugoya is TASAI Inc.’s Program Coordinator. With over 15 years of experience working in Africa, Mainza oversees all the on-the-ground operations of TASAI studies, serves as the primary liaison with in-country research teams, and is responsible for coordinating in-country dissemination activities. Mainza is also closely involved in preparing TASAI reports and other publications. Prior to joining TASAI, Mainza worked as Policy Officer at the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF). Mainza holds degrees from Makerere University and Cornell University. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dr. Issoufou Kapran, Seed Systems Liaison West Africa Dr. Issoufou Kapran, Seed Systems Liaison West Africa
Dr. Issoufou Kapran serves as TASAI’s Seed Systems Liaison (West Africa). He joined the TASAI team in June 2021. Dr. Kapran contributes to the implementation of TASAI country studies by providing guidance throughout the research process, including the review of TASAI country reports and other publications. He also represents TASAI at various seed industry fora primarily, though not limited to West Africa. Finally, he is tasked with building linkages to organizations with complementary goals. Dr. Kapran has 30 years of experience as a sorghum breeder and seed systems specialist, with successive appointments at INRAN (Niger), at AGRA West Africa (Ghana), and at ICRISAT West and Central Africa (Mali). He holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Purdue University. Dr. Kapran is based in Niamey, Niger.

Brian Dambo, Data Analyst Brian Damba, Data Analyst
Brian Damba is TASAI Inc.’s Data Analyst, responsible for data management, analytics, troubleshooting data issues, and contributing to TASAI’s various research outputs. He has experience and knowledge in data analytics, including database management, big data analysis using business intelligence tools, and possesses knowledge in machine learning for deployment in humanitarian efforts. Before joining the TASAI team, Brian worked for FHI360 as a Data Analyst. Brian earned his Masters’ degree in Big Data Analytics from Chinhoyi University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe), and Bachelors’ degrees in Monitoring & Evaluation from Lupane State University (Zimbabwe) and in Operations Research and Statistics from the National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe). He is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Brian joined TASAI in December 2021.

Michael Waithaka, Publications Editor Michael Waithaka, Publications Editor
Michael Waithaka is TASAI Inc’s Publications Editor responsible for overseeing TASAI’s publications and outputs. His role entails planning, coordinating, revising, and reviewing both of TASAI’s reports and other publications. His extensive experience collaborating with stakeholders at policy level allows him to undertake continuous improvement of TASAI’s research processes. He has decades of experience managing applied agricultural research on markets and policy reforms. Prior to joining TASAI Inc., he worked at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Michael holds a PhD degree in Agriculture from Humboldt University, MSc degree in Agricultural Economics and Business from the University of Guelph and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Nairobi. He is based in Nyeri, Kenya.

Shontaye Abegaz Dr. Edward Mabaya, Chief Scientific Advisor
Ed Mabaya is the Chief Scientific Advisor to TASAI Inc.  In this role, he provides expert scientific guidance to the TASAI team in all areas of seed sector-related research and activities.  Ed is a scholar and a development practitioner with more than two decades of experience working on seed sector development, agribusiness value chains and food security issues with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He is a Research Professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. From 2018 to 2020 he served as Division Manager of Agribusiness Development at the African Development Bank, where he managed continent-wide investments, partnerships, and research in support of the Feed Africa strategy. He is the former President of African Association of Agricultural Economists, an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow, and the Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellow.  Ed earned his PhD and MSc degrees in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Zimbabwe. He is based in Ithaca, New York, USA.

Shontaye Abegaz Shon Abegaz, Media and Publications Coordinator
Shon Abegaz joined TASAI Inc. in 2019 to amplify the digital presence of TASAI’s message, raise TASAI’s overall visibility and serve as a liaison with locally based media outlets in the countries where TASAI is active. Shon also coordinates the publication of TASAI’s Country Reports and other research outputs. Before joining TASAI Inc., Shon worked for Initiatives of Change Switzerland, holding a variety of key positions, including Managing Director of the Just Governance for Human Security Forum and Chair of the Executive Committee. In addition to her work with TASAI, she also serves as Executive Director of the International Institute for Human Security, a peacebuilding organization focused on knowledge sharing, knowledge transfer and the advancement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Shon is based in USA.

Jackline Sawe Jackline Sawe, Program Assistant
Jackline Sawe serves TASAI Inc. as Program Assistant. She provides research, administrative and project management support, working alongside the research and project coordination teams. She has experience in implementation of developmental projects and research work within the agricultural sector. Previously, she worked as a project officer at AgriBiz Consult Limited, conducting feasibility studies, training, and coordinating exports of breeding stock. Jackie holds a degree from Makerere University and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mainza Mugoya, Regional Coordinator Rachel Smyk-Newton, Finance Manager
Rachel Smyk-Newton serves as TASAI Inc.’s Finance Manager. She has 9 years of experience in non-profit financial management. She is also the Associate Operations Director for Center for Transformative Action and has served on the boards of two other non-profit educational organizations in roles of President and Treasurer. This is her second career, following a decade of work and study in the field of coastal management planning, where she specialized in helping communities adapt to changes brought on by global climate change. Rachel has a BA in Government from Smith College and a Master of Environmental Science and Management from the University of California Santa Barbara. She is based in Ithaca, New York, USA.