Grow Ahead connects people directly to small-scale farmer organizations to support them as they address the challenge of climate change in their communities.
What We Do
As a crowdfunding platform, Grow Ahead brings together contributions from individuals, businesses, organizations, and grants to fund community-led projects that address the local challenges of climate change.
Small farmer organizations in the developing world are historically under-resourced, with limited access to the capital needed to grow their organizations and invest in climate solutions.
Through raising funds for farmer-led agroforestry projects, we endeavor to invest in climate solutions in a way that is accountable to frontline communities. We stand behind reforestation projects run by small-scale farmer organizations. Together we help combat climate change and support communities.
In 2013, Grow Ahead was launched as cross-cultural initiative of Progreso and Cooperative Coffees geared towards pre-financing fair trade coffee harvests. Its organizational structure consisted of partnerships between consumers and producers, roasters and importers, banks and NGOs. In 2017, we relaunched to as an organization that funds small-scale farmer organization-led projects that address their top concerns: climate change, community preservation, income security and food sovereignty.
Board of Directors and Team
Ryan is the Director for Grow Ahead. Ryan is the Organic & Fair Trade Coordinator for Dr. Bronner’s, focusing on Dr. Bronner’s international supply chains and farmer training. Ryan also shares his time with Fair World Project and Grow Ahead. Ryan has worked in the food and farm justice movement at home and abroad for 20 years, including with such organizations as the Center for International Law, Friends of the Earth-Paraguay, Global Exchange and the Organic Consumers Association.
Email Ryan at Ryan @ growahead.org.
Dana Geffner has been working in the Fair Trade movement for nearly two decades. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Fair World Project (FWP) an NGO which started in order to promote a just economy, insist on integrity in Fair Trade and cultivate a holistic approach to global economics. She is editor of For A Better World, a magazine that discusses challenging issues that face our global economy focusing on a just food system that supports small-scale farmers, protects workers’ rights and encourages trade policy transformation. She is on the board of two fair trade organizations: Equal Exchange and Tradiciones de Mayas (Guatemala) as well as Grow Ahead.
Julia Gentner is the Program Manager for Grow Ahead. Julia holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Washington. With on the ground experience in non-profits and sustainable development in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador, she brings a passion for bolstering women as change-makers, supporting indigenous and rural communities and backing sustainable, grass-roots movements for climate change.
Email Julia at [email protected]
Anne Costello is the Director of Coffee at Peace Coffee, a 100% fair trade and organic coffee roaster based in Minneapolis. Anne became immersed in coffee over ten years ago at a green coffee importer, where she worked in sourcing, hedging, and logistics. At Peace Coffee, Anne oversees the company’s supply chain, from sourcing green coffee to guiding the roasted coffee lineup and tracking the company’s impact on producer partners. She remains continually inspired by the complexity of coffee and how it connects people and places thousands of miles away.
Rachel Spence has worked for the Fair Trade Federation as their Engagement Manager since 2016. She is responsible for FTF communications, public engagement, as well as advocacy for fair trade principles and practices. Prior to joining the FTF, Rachel worked with fair trade farmer cooperatives in Ecuador. She also worked in the field of international trade policy in New York and with the United Nations and U.S. government in Washington, DC. Rachel has an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Economic Development from George Washington University and a BA in International Economics & Commerce and Spanish Language & Literature from Lafayette College.
Social Media and Outreach Coordinator
Dana is a Colombian artist and climate activist. She graduated from Universidad de Los Andes with a degree in art emphasis on digital media. Dana's artistic work has been focused on developing creative content from the area of communications of non-governmental organizations and environmental initiatives including Pacto x El Clima, a Colombian youth-led climate organization.
Email Dana at [email protected]
Margot Conover has worked in sustainability and equitable development since 2010. Currently, Margot works on sustainable sourcing and regenerative agriculture as a Senior Sustainability Analyst in the General Mills Natural & Organic division. She got her start working with smallholders in Ecuador, supporting sugarcane, cocoa and coffee cooperatives in negotiating contracts with international buyers and complying with their fair trade and organic certifications. Margot also spent two years fundraising for Population Services International, a leading global public health NGO specializing in sexual and reproductive health programs in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Getting back to her ethical supply chain roots, Margot served as Fairtrade America’s External Relations Manager from 2015 - 2018, where she supported companies in fostering sustainable conditions and fair prices for certified farmers and led advocacy campaigns to boost Fairtrade’s presence in the US market. Margot received her MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago and her BA in Political Science from Christopher Newport University, and currently lives in Oakland, Califorina in a co-op with a big organic vegetable garden and two beehives.
Fredy Pérez Zelaya
Fredy Pérez Zelaya is a third-generation coffee farmer committed to improving the quality of life for farmers and their communities and improving the planet. Fredy is an agronomist who coordinates the technical team at Café Orgánico Marcala (COMSA), a cooperative of 1,573 small coffee producers in Márcala, La Paz, Honduras. COMSA is a leader in organic, biodynamic and agroecological coffee growing practices.
Esperanza Dionisio Castillo
I was born on September 21, 1951 in Muquiyauyo, Jauja, Junín Region, in the center of Peru. Daughter of small farmers in the District of Muquiyauyo, married with two children and an Agronomist by profession, I studied at the National Agrarian University La Molina Lima Peru. Since my beginnings as a professional, I have worked in coffee cooperatives. I began in 1977 as an advisor to the education committee and head of the agricultural technical department of the Satipo Coffee Agricultural Cooperative. At that time, we began promoting the diversification of citrus and cocoa crops.
In 1980 I began to work in the Pangoa Agrarian Coffee Cooperative, in the Headquarters of the agricultural technical department and develop the modernization of coffee growing in the Pangoa area, work that I carried out until 1987. Later between the years 1988 - 1996 I worked in the Satipo Agricultural Center providing advice on the production of tropical crops, mainly in the cultivation of coffee. From 1997 to 2021, I worked as Manager of the Pangoa Agrarian Coffee Cooperative, based on Cooperative Management in the economic improvement of the company and its associates
Being Manager in 2019 I was awarded the sustainability award by the SCAA fair in the USA. Currently, my position in the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa is Corporate Advisor and Human Resources Manager.
Claudia Vasquez is the Reforestation Project Coordinator at Cooperativa Agraria Norandino, an organization that contributes to strengthening and improving the quality of life of small producers and associated families. She is responsible for ensuring the coordination between partners and allies; in addition to planning, organizing and assisting the technical area to achieve the implementation of carbon capture projects for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Luz Stella Reyes Sánchez
Luz Stella Reyes Sánchez has 20 years of experience supporting small-producer organizations, indigenous communities and fairtrade coffee cooperatives in Colombia. Luz Stella supports COMEPCAFE, a coffee cooperative of 1,400 indigenous small-scale coffee farmers in the northern mountains of Cauca, Colombia, with business administration, accounting, management and fairtrade and organic certifications.