Cross-sector Experts Join Root Capital’s Board of Directors

These photos were taken by Blake Dunlop in a 2015 trip to the Takengon region of Sumatra, Indonesia. These photos feature four of the five coffee cooperatives with whom we work in Indonesia.

Root Capital is pleased to announce the addition of four new members to our board of directors: Ken Bartels, Macani Toungara, Mario Fernández, and Salah Goss. These members join our board with a wealth of experience across sectors and around the world. They bring deep expertise in several key aspects of our work—the coffee value chain, youth inclusion, philanthropic partnerships, and boosting rural livelihoods—that are critical to realizing our vision of prosperous, inclusive, and resilient rural communities. With their decades of international leadership, these new members will help Root Capital become an even better ally for farming families. 

Ana Zacapa, Board Chair of Root Capital, spoke on the addition of these members: “Not only do my new fellow directors bring knowledge that is invaluable to building resilient agri-business, they also add diversity of thought and experience that will make Root Capital’s board more effective. I am proud of the progress we have made as a board in our effort to increase our gender, racial, and country of origin representation and can’t wait to work with and learn from Ken, Macani, Mario, and Salah.” 

Read on for more information on each of these new board members and join us in welcoming them to the Root Capital community.


Ken Bartels is the founder and former president of Paxton Properties Incorporated, a real estate investment firm in New York City that owned center-city office buildings in the United States and Europe. He is a director of several private companies.  Over the years Ken has chaired the boards of a number of nonprofits and foundations focused on education and youth engagement and as such was recognized for his nonprofit work in 2014 as an honoree of the National Executive Service Corps. Ken currently serves on the boards of Choate Rosemary Hall and Wellesley College. Early in his career Ken was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York and Tokyo and Citicorp in New York. Ken holds an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Ever since I was in high school I have been interested in and engaged with the developing world.  Root Capital’s intertwined strengths of ambition and accomplishment have impressed me from the moment I was introduced to Root Capital and its work.  I look forward to being helpful.

Macani Toungara has over 14 years of international economic development and management consulting experience in the private and nonprofit sectors. She is currently the Manager of International Programs, Africa at the Obama Foundation. The foundation’s flagship program—Leaders: Africa—inspires, empowers, and connects 200 emerging African leaders through a year-long program of capacity building. Previously, Macani was the Senior Director for Program Development at TechnoServe, an international economic development nonprofit, where she managed the development of strategic bids and led donor engagement with the Gates Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, and UK Department for International Development. She has expertise on public-private partnerships, supply chain linkages, enterprise and market systems development, food security promotion, and job creation. Before joining TechnoServe, Macani was a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, where she worked on projects in consumer goods and financial services. She holds a BA in economics from Harvard University, a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.

I am excited to join the Root Capital board because of the organization's commitment to empowering agricultural businesses—which are often the linchpins of their rural communities—and its track record of expanding access to capital and advisory services.

Mario Fernández hails from a coffee-producing family in Mexico and has worked in coffee for over 27 years—currently as technical director for the Specialty Coffee Association. Before that, he spent over a decade at the Coffee Quality Institute where, as technical director, he developed the Q Processing Program—an industry standard that equips agricultural businesses and coffee buyers with the tools they need to improve coffee quality and boost livelihoods for farmers. His experience at universities and nonprofit organizations has focused on coffee quality, processing, and farmer education. Mario combines his experience in the industry with a passion for scientific research about coffee flavor and how it is generated. He holds a PhD in food science (University of Otago – New Zealand), an MS in food science (Université de Montpellier II, France), and a BS in food technology (Universidad de las Américas-Puebla, Mexico). 

I love the work that Root Capital does with coffee producers and coffee cooperatives, and I am looking forward to support that work, both as a board member and as a staff member of the Specialty Coffee Association, as there are many opportunities for direct collaboration between both organizations.

Salah Goss is a financial inclusion expert specializing in digital solutions. She is currently senior vice president, running international markets for financial inclusion at Mastercard, based in Nairobi. Salah holds three process and technology patents, representing her contribution to the development of innovative digital solutions while at Mastercard. Salah previously worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she focused on innovative business models for mobile-enabled financial products Salah has coauthored numerous articles, including an article on financial inclusion featured in the World Economic Forum, “The Mobile Financial Services Development Report 2011.” In 2007, Salah was recognized as a National Security and Education Program David L. Boren Fellow and in 2016 Salah became a fellow of the inaugural class of the Finance Leaders Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Most recently in 2019, Salah was awarded the Outstanding Corporate Social Intrapreneur of the Year by the World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree from The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. 

I am happy to join the Root Capital board. Our challenging times make it even more clear how important Root Capital’s work is for the sustainability, resilience, and economic prosperity of the agricultural ecosystems and farming communities that rely on them.

Topics: News and Announcements | Our Community |

    Kambale Kisumba Kamungele |September 30, 2020 at4:42 pm

    I am glad to learn about new outstanding professionals joining the board of Root Capital. I am 3rd Generation Coffee Exporter from the DR Congo and I have seen the positive impact Root Capital financial support is making in the livelihood of the rural community. I took an Introductory R Grading / Cupping course with Mario Fernandez at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority when the Fine Robusta Protocol was being developped by the CQI. He was a wonderful instructor and I surely trust his presence at RC will strengthen the promotion of Robusta on the International scene

    REPLIES

    Root Capital |October 1, 2020 at12:14 pm

    Thanks for your kind words. We're especially excited by Mario's work in Robusta coffee and ensuring that farmers of all types of the coffee can grow quality crops and earn better incomes. Thanks for the support!

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