Simon Heck Appointed International Potato Center Director General


Simon Heck has been appointed director general of International Potato Center (CIP) and senior director of CGIAR, a Feb. 7 news release said.

“It is an honour to be named director general of CIP, whose collaboration with national partners has enabled millions of farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to improve their income and support their families’ well-being with potato and sweet potato,’ Heck said in the release.

Heck is an anthropologist by training and joined CIP in 2012 as the deputy manager for sweet potato in Africa program. He previously worked with WorldFish, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the release said.

The release noted Heck is recognized as a leader of successful international multi-stakeholder research-for-development programs focused on improving food and nutrition security, breeding climate-smart crops, and fostering inclusive value chains. He has led the scaling of CIP’s work on sweet potato biofortification and is currently CIP’s Director of the Sweetpotato Agri-food System Program and lead of the CGIAR Initiative on Resilient Cities.

“In his decade with CIP, coordinating multi-stakeholder partnerships and delivering innovations and improvements for vulnerable rural and urban communities in Africa and Asia, Dr. Heck has proven his ability to foster more productive, gender-responsive, and equitable food systems,” Helen Hambly, chair of CIP’s Board of Trustee, said in the release.

Through his new role Heck will focus on expanding CIP’s proven track record of leadership in high-impact research in genetic innovation, and on delivery models along the commodity supply chain from farm to fork, the release said.

“His abilities as a researcher and manager dedicated to science that benefits people and the planet will be a valuable addition to our leadership team as we work to increase the visibility and impact of CGIAR and our Centers,” Claudia Sadoff, CGIAR’s executive managing director, said in the release.

Heck will take over the new role from Oscar Ortiz starting on March 1, 2023.

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