ACDI/VOCA is pleased to announce the appointment of one new and one returning member to its board of directors: Erica Bliss and Dawn Thomas, respectively. Erica and Dawn will apply their unique expertise in economic growth, agricultural development, and technological innovation to support ACDI/VOCA’s mission. 

ACDI/VOCA’s Board of Directors also named member Asif M. Shaikh as vice chair. Leslie Durschinger, who served as the previous vice chair, remains a member of the board. 

Dawn Thomas

Dawn Thomas

Dawn Thomas is an agricultural economist and expert in strategic planning, institutional capacity building, and complex economic growth programs. In 2014, she capped a 30-year career with the United States Agency for International Development as a counselor in the Foreign Service, having worked in over 20 countries. In Afghanistan, she led a $1-billion government investment in agriculture. In Egypt, she led a $500-million portfolio focused on sustainable rural incomes, and, in Botswana, she led an 11-country platform promoting trade, transportation, and energy networks in southern Africa. Dawn served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Chad and Senegal. Dawn holds master’s degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky and public policy from the National Defense University. She is fluent in English and French and proficient in Spanish and Wolof.

“The board is thrilled to announce the return of Dawn and to welcome Erica as a new member. Dawn and Erica’s unique backgrounds that span from Washington, D.C., to Silicon Valley will offer new and innovative viewpoints on how to advance ACDI/VOCA’s mission to improve lives and livelihoods.”


Erica Bliss 

Erica Bliss

New member Erica Bliss has spent the past 13 years designing new products and services in agriculture globally. She is currently head of Commercial and Marketing at Mineral (at X, an Alphabet company), driving Business Development and leading go-to-market strategy. Before Mineral, Erica led Business Development across East and Southern Africa for Syngenta, building crop lending, insurance, and supply chain initiatives across a wide variety of crops. She developed sustainable, inclusive supply chains in emerging markets with Walmart and other multinationals in collaboration with NGOs. While at TechnoServe, Erica managed the Project Nurture initiative in Uganda, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Coca-Cola. She holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and BA in Economics from Claremont McKenna College. 

“I look forward to the valuable inputs both Dawn and Erica will undoubtedly contribute to ACDI/OCA’S strategy and growth as board members of the ACDI/VOCA Group, which includes our affiliate organizations Tanager and AV Ventures.”


Learn more about our Team, including our board of directors.