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 to improve food security.

Meet our team:

Gena Perry

Executive Director

Vickie Wilks

Chief Operating Officer

Eric DeMerit

Manager of Program Operations

James Bernhardt

Director of Monitoring & Evaluation

Marypat Corbett

Director, Latin America Division & Special Projects Lead

Chris Slemp

Director, Africa Division

Alan Poock

Director, Asia Division

Leila Payer

Program Coordinator, Special Projects

Josh Neiderman

Regional Director, Africa Division

Coming Soon...

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New Business Development Manager

Coming Soon...

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M&E Specialist

Jim Hershey

Chief of Party, CAST Cambodia

Karen Edwards

Strategic Advisor

Liz Hare

Strategic Advisor

Gena Perry

Executive Director

gperry@soy.org

As WISHH’s Executive Director, Gena Perry leads the strategic trajectory of WISHH’s market development and long term trade opportunities for U.S. soy in developing and emerging markets. She joined the American Soybean Association/WISHH Program in March 2019 managing the AMPLIFIES poultry Food for Progress project in Ghana and then serving in a strategic capacity for the organization. She came to WISHH after nearly four years with AgriCorps, a non-profit focused on agricultural education in Ghana and Liberia. 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. Gena received her bachelors and masters degrees in Agribusiness from the University of Georgia. Gena enjoys traveling, hiking with her dog and attending live music shows.

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 Protection 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. 

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.

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.

Leila Payer

Program Coordinator, Special Projects

lpayer@soy.org

Leila Payer joined the WISHH team in March 2022. She received her B.A. in Classics and Economics from Grinnell College. In 2019, she attended the Trasimeno Archaeology Field School in Italy, where she helped excavate the Gioiella-Vaiano Villa dating back to the 2nd century BC. Born and raised in St. Louis County, she returned to St. Louis after graduation and served as an intern and social media consultant for the World Affairs Council of St. Louis. As Program Coordinator, Special Projects, Leila Payer communicates with WISHH staff, consultants and partners overseas to assist with domestic and international administrative and programmatic activities. Such activities include coordinating with WISHH Regional Directors to plan and implement trade teams, overseeing the production of quarterly donor reports, and managing the preparation and implementation of WISHH Committee meetings. Leila enjoys spending time with her dog, crocheting, and traveling.

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.

Liz Hare

Strategic Advisor

lhare@soy.org

Liz Hare is a WISHH Strategic Advisor. She is the Principal at Evergreen Strategies LLC and has worked for over 15 years in policy, agriculture, international development, global food security, trade and social services. Liz most recently served as the CEO of St. Francis Community Services – a social services organization that worked to support people in crisis and ultimately prevent those situations from recurring. Liz formerly served as executive director for the American Soybean Association’s WISHH program. Prior to joining WISHH, Liz worked in policy on Capitol Hill for a U.S. Senator. Liz earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies, psychology and Spanish at Saint Louis University and a master’s in development management and policy from Georgetown University and the Universidad Nacional de San Martin in Buenos Aires. She has lived and worked in over 20 countries.