Staff

The WISHH Team

The WISHH team works to find untapped market potential, build global relationships with strategic partners and implement projects that increase opportunities for trade and improve food security.

Meet our team:

Liz Hare

Executive Director

Vickie Wilks

Chief Operating Officer

Eric DeMerit

Manager of Program Operations

James Bernhardt

Director of Monitoring & Evaluation

Marypat Corbett

Project Director, Special Projects

Austin Leefers

Project Director, CAST & New Business Development Lead

Gena Perry

Project Director, Global Strategy

Alan Poock

Director, Asia Division

Chris Slemp

Project Director, Africa Division

Theresa Fang

Program Assistant, Special Projects

Josh Neiderman

Regional Director, Africa

Jim Hershey

Chief of Party, CAST Cambodia

Karen Edwards

Strategic Advisor

Liz Hare

Executive Director

lhare@soy.org

Liz Hare is the Executive Director of the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) at the American Soybean Association (ASA). In this role, she leads the WISHH program’s efforts to develop agricultural value chains in emerging markets and to build U.S. soy trade through the improvement of health, nutrition, and global food security. Prior to joining WISHH, Liz lived and worked throughout Latin America and served as a Policy Assistant in a U.S. Senate office on Capitol Hill. Liz received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Psychology from Saint Louis University and holds a dual master’s in Development Management and Policy from Georgetown University and the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Argentina.

Vickie Wilks

Chief Operating Officer​

vwilks@soy.org​

Vickie Wilks, Chief Operating Officer for WISHH, joined the American Soybean Association in September of 2007.  She came to WISHH with 10 years of non-profit management experience that included managing a government funded program for the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.  She is responsible for WISHH operational and programmatic oversight including staff supervision, Board governance, donor reporting, program management, compliance and budgetary and financial oversight. An Illinois native, Vickie received her B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology and a master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy Analysis with an emphasis in Non-profit Management from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in December 2011. 

Eric DeMerit

Manager of Program Operations

edemerit@soy.org

Eric DeMerit, Manager of Program Operations for WISHH, joined the American Soybean Association in October 2010.  He came to WISHH with six years of sales experience.  Eric was born and raised in St. Louis, MO where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lindenwood University in May 2003.  Eric’s WISHH responsibilities include managing Project Admin Staff, front line compliance, contracting and account payables.  He and his wife Kim of 10 years have three children; Jack, Sam and Ruby.

James Bernhardt

Director of Monitoring & Evaluation

jbernhardt@soy.org

James Bernhardt, Director of Monitoring & Evaluation for WISHH, joined the American Soybean Association in March of 2018. He came to the organization with a strong background in social science and health systems research and over a decade of experience managing and evaluating federally funded programs in the developing world. James received his Master’s of PublicHealth (MPH) degree from the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington and is currently an adjunct member of the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. He is responsible for collecting, managing, and reporting process and impact evaluation data for WISHH’s market development and development initiatives.

Marypat Corbett

Project Director – Special Projects

mcorbett@soy.org

Marypat joined WISHH in January 2018 after 5 years with the U.S. Soybean Export Council where she directed the international soy food and oil marketing strategy.  Her diverse professional agricultural background includes serving as The Pillsbury Company’s first on-farm sales division’s marketing manager and running a regional profit center specializing in repurposing food and beverage industry by-products into livestock feed.  She subsequently joined Kynetec/Doane Marketing Research, where she created and deployed the global strategy for their agronomic market intelligence division, working with the seed and international pesticide industry, the U.S. Environmental Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Marypat’s WISHH responsibilities include serving as the WISHH liaison to the Qualified State Soybean Boards, overseeing the building of new U.S. soy trade in Central American market sectors, and coordinating special projects with internal and external teams.  Originally from Chicago, Marypat launched her Ag career with a B.S. in Agriculture/Animal Industries from Southern Illinois University. 

Austin Leefers

Project Director
CAST, New Business Development Lead

aleefers@soy.org

Austin Leefers joined the American Soybean Association in April of 2019 as the New Business Development Lead and Project Director of CAST. He is responsible for oversight and support of WISHH’s aquaculture project in Cambodia.  Additionally, he will work to grow existing partnerships and recruit new strategic partners. Austin has spent the past 5 years working in international agriculture overseas in both the non-profit and private sectors.  He has managed a farmers’ vegetable cooperative in Tanzania, a corn and soybean business in Côte d’Ivoire, and a peanut and fruit tree seedling business in Haiti. Austin grew up on his family’s corn, soybean, and cattle farm in Carlinville, Illinois (Macoupin County) where his father and brother still farm.  He holds a bachelor’s in international relations from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in international business from Hult International Business School in Dubai, UAE. 

Gena Perry

Project Director - Global Strategy

gperry@soy.org

Gena Perry, Project Director, Global Strategy joined the American Soybean Association/WISHH Program in March 2019. She came to wish after nearly four years with AgriCorps, a non-profit focused on agricultural education in developing countries. Gena served as an AgriCorps Fellow in Koforidua, Ghana where she worked in the 4-H Ghana office helping build capacity for staff and trained 4-H advisors and agriculture science teachers on experiential learning pedagogy. Once stateside she led the operations of AgriCorps and managed programs in Ghana and Liberia. Prior to joining AgriCorps Gena worked for OsbornBarr in St. Louis where her clients included the United Soybean Board and the U.S. Soybean Export Council.  Originally from Macon, Georgia, Gena was first introduced to agriculture through her involvement in the National FFA Organization and went on to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Agribusiness from the University of Georgia. Gena enjoys traveling, hiking with her dog and attending live music shows.

Alan Poock

Director – Asia Division

apoock@soy.org

Alan F. Poock serves as Director – Asia Division for ASA’s WISHH program, where he’s responsible for the Asian region.  Alan has an extensive international marketing background, working in the construction equipment, consumer goods and agriculture sectors.  He has experience in both the private sector and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperator network, including previously working for American Soybean Association International Marketing and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).  Alan is originally from Iowa and received a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College, majoring in international business and German.  While at Wartburg, he spent his Junior Year Abroad at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn in Germany.  He received his master’s degree from Thunderbird, focusing on international marketing.  Alan’s hobbies include tennis, cycling and traveling.

Chris Slemp

Project Director – Africa Division

cslemp@soy.org

Chris Slemp is the Project Director for the Africa Division at the American Soybean Association’s WISHH Program (ASA/WISHH). Chris started with WISHH in 2014 as the Project Officer for the Africa Division. Prior to ASA/WISHH, Chris worked as an agriculture extension agent with the U.S. Peace Corps in Ghana. While working with the Peace Corps, Chris provided extension services to cashew farmers in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. Chris earned his master’s degree in International Business from St. Louis University in 2019.

Theresa Fang

Program Assistant – Special Projects

tfang@soy.org

Theresa Fang, Program Assistant of Special Projects for WISHH, joined the American Soybean Association in June 2019.  She comes to WISHH after graduating from McGill University in Montréal, Canada with a B.A. in International Development Studies and Global Health. Theresa spent the summer of 2018 volunteering in the Takeo Province of Cambodia where she gained experience in capacity building and engaging local communities. Theresa’s responsibilities include planning and assisting on international trade team travel, program operations, organizing WISHH committee meetings and assisting with various ongoing projects for WISHH.

Josh Neiderman

Regional Director - Africa

jneiderman@soy.org

Josh Neiderman is the Regional Director for Africa for ASA/WISHH based in St. Louis, MO. Mr. Neiderman recently returned to the USA after a three year assignment in Accra, Ghana where he established a regional office for his organization in 2014. Neiderman joined ASA in 2012 as the Project Officer for Africa. 

Mr. Neiderman became involved in agriculture at an early age, being raised on a burley tobacco farm in Beattyville, KY. He attended Georgetown College, earning a B.A. in American Studies and a Master’s in International Development focusing on Agricultural Development in sub-Saharan Africa from the Korbel School at the University of Denver. Mr. Neiderman spent 3 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, working with the Zambia Wildlife Authority on improved crop production and post-harvest management around the Kafue National Park, particularly in areas of high food insecurity and game poaching. 

Mr. Neiderman resides in St. Louis with his wife Ruthann and their two sons, Boone and Hutch. He enjoys traveling extensively across Africa promoting U.S. soybean ingredients and working with local partners to find innovative ways to increase the demand for U.S. agricultural products.

Jim Hershey

Chief of Party, CAST Cambodia

jhershey@castasa.org

Jim Hershey is the Chief of Party (CoP) for the Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) Cambodia project. This agricultural development project, funded by USDA’s Food for Progress Program, is aimed at increasing the scale and scope of freshwater aquaculture in Cambodia by accelerating improvements in management, feed and other inputs. Prior to his assignment as CoP of CAST, Jim was the Executive Director of WISHH. 

Jim earned his BA from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of International Management in Arizona. Between his service as a Peace Corp Volunteer and the WISHH Program, Jim held various positions at the U.S.A. Rice Council and in the American Soybean Association’s International Marketing division.

WORLD INITIATIVE FOR SOY IN HUMAN HEALTH

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