John Van D. Lewis, PhD (Yale 1979) is an agricultural development crusader with over forty years of experience researching, designing, implementing and evaluating grass roots farming transformations in West Africa and the Caribbean (Haiti).
Following his economic anthropology, doctoral dissertation research in Central Mali (1974-1975), Dr. Lewis worked for the CGIAR’s International Livestock Center for Africa (ILCA, now ILRI) transhuming, with FulBe pastoralists, from Central Mali up north into the Sahara desert in the rainy season and back south to the Niger Delta in the dry season (1976-1978). Then he trained graduate students as an Assistant Professor of African Studies at Howard University (1978-1980).
The next twenty years were spent in the Agricultural & Rural Development cone as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition to a four year assignment to Haiti (1983-1987), most of Dr. Lewis’ overseas assignments with USAID were to Sahel West Africa and the circum-Sahara region. From 1994 through 2000, he served as USAID’s Senior Agriculturalist directing its Global Bureau Office of Agriculture & Food Security (now a Bureau of its own).
Following his subsequent retirement from USAID, Dr. Lewis served as Executive Director for two NGOs: The Near East Foundation & Pro-Natura USA. In 2006 he helped to found Terra Global Capital, LLC acting as one of its Managing Directors for the next decade. Since 2016, he has been animating investor interest in climate-smart agricultural growth opportunities in Africa.