Kirchner Food Fellowship

Program Contact

Dr. LaKisha Odom

Development Contact

Kashyap Choksi

This program is no longer accepting applications

About Kirchner Food Fellowship

Bold business investment is critical to solving mounting food and agriculture challenges. While the amount of investment capital focusing on social and environmental impact is increasing, global access to this capital is not. We are helping to build access by funding training for future financiers to invest in early-stage innovations that can transform global food production.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship program was established to fill this gap and support agriculture-related businesses. The Kirchner Food Fellowship provides high-level mentoring from networks of investors to university students each year. Fellows are trained to evaluate agriculture business investments and given discretion over investment decisions for companies solving critical food and agriculture challenges.

Applications for the 2022 cycle are now closed.

The 2023 application period will open the first half of 2023.

For full program details visit

In 2021, the Fellowship launched a dedicated cohort for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to address the lack of diversity within the venture capital sector.
Learn more

Sign up to receive email notifications of this and other future Scientific Workforce Development opportunities.

Kirchner Fellows

Year: 2021

Martin Adu-Boahene 

Morgan State University

Adu-Boahene is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He is passionate about investing, entrepreneurship and technology. He is currently working as an investment banking summer analyst at Citi in the Sophomore Leadership Program.

Prior to joining Citi, Adu-Boahene was an investment intern at the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), supporting early-stage technology and life sciences companies. During his freshman summer, he interned at KPMG. Adu-Boahene is also a senior fellow at HBCUvc.

Bryana Pittman

Florida A&M University

Pittman is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Systems Engineering at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla. She is passionate about bridging the gap between food deserts in the local community, researching innovations in intellectual property and exploring the financial markets.

Pittman is excited to use her aptitude for problem-solving in the investment landscape. Pittman has worked with Goldman Sachs in their HBCU Market Madness program. She is also a member of MANRRS (Minorities in Natural Resources and Related Sciences) and has plans for entrepreneurship in the agriculture/food sector.

Kwame Terra

Xavier University

Terra is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in Health Equity at Xavier University in New Orleans. His studies focus on the association between the local food environment and chronic disease prevalence.

Terra recently founded bEHR Health Systems, a medical and lifestyle management platform aimed at improving health outcomes for African Americans. He believes that bEHR can help address the growing health disparities by increasing access to racially equitable healthcare and improving health literacy in the Black community.

After completing his MPH, Terra plans to work with entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers to address global food, housing and healthcare insecurity.

Year: 2020

Eric Flood

Tufts University

Flood is pursuing a Master of International Business at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His studies focus on international finance, capital markets and development economics.

Flood has worked in innovation and its funding throughout his professional career. Most recently, Flood worked as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group’s startup investment and incubation arm, where he stood up a successful pet insurance startup and conducted due diligence of farmland acquisition with aims of regenerative conversion. Flood has experience working in emerging markets, most notably as a consultant supporting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet program in Sub-Saharan Africa. Flood studied design and business at North Carolina State University, where he learned to pair empathy with analytic thinking to generate impact.

Rachel Resek

University of Pennsylvania

Resek is pursuing her MBA at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about bringing together her experience in venture capital, operations, and finance to build a healthier, more sustainable food system. As an MBA Investment Associate at Leaps by Bayer, Resek invested in early-stage companies in AgTech. Prior to her MBA she worked in a handful of operating roles at Box, an enterprise SaaS company, and in investment banking at Barclays. Resek received a BS in Systems Engineering manga cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

Yinuo (Jenny) Zhang

Georgetown University

Zhang is pursuing a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University with a focus on global business and finance.

Zhang is interested in the nexus of business, sustainability and technology. She works to leverage private capital and expertise to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and generate social impact. As a Wallenberg International Fellow, Zhang studied the Swedish innovation system and supported Ericsson’s Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility team. Zhang worked at the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy, analyzing philanthropic capital’s potential to catalyze social change. Prior to that, she was a part of the Digital Agriculture Team at the World Bank, where she researched the digital transformation of the food system and its impact on agricultural development. She also participated in a consulting project evaluating blockchain’s potential to improve financial inclusion within the Australian dairy industry. Zhang earned her BS in Foreign Service Summa Cum Laude from Georgetown University, majoring in Science, Technology and International Affairs, with a focus on food and agriculture’s role in sustainable development.

Year: 2019

Brennan Costello

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Costello is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pursuing a Master in Business Administration degree. Costello earned a Bachelor in Agribusiness, with minors in entrepreneurship and leadership from Nebraska in 2016. Having grown up working on a production row crop farm, Costello’s academic interests focus on utilizing the power of entrepreneurship to be a force for positive change, especially in rural development and agriculture technology.

Costello is also a team member at the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, empowering students and entrepreneurs pursue the development of new enterprises in the Midwest. He leads efforts to teach the mindset of entrepreneurship, and guides entrepreneurs through the validation and market testing phases of enterprise building. Previously, Costello helped found FarmAfield, an agriculture technology startup focused on reducing market volatility for farmers around the world. He was also previously elected as a National Officer for the National FFA Organization and served as an international fellow for AgriCorps, an agriculture education developmental organization working in West Africa.

Ephrem Tesfaye Woldegiorgis

American University

Woldegiorgis is studying at American University’s School of International Service (SIS) under the Master in International Development Program, with emphasis in agriculture, rural development and rural economic institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Woldegiorgis has extensive work experience in the private, public and development sectors in Ethiopia. His recent job was at Moyee coffee in the capacity of supply chain manager with responsibilities ranging from sourcing coffee bean to exporting value-added coffee. Prior to that he worked with ACDI/VOCA, a US based non-profit, on two USIAD-funded projects that focused on agribusiness market development and advanced seed adoption programs. His task was managing the market linkages, access to financial services and investment activities.

Woldegiorgis has a passion to contribute towards poverty reduction efforts where it has its most detrimental impacts—the rural households of Sub-Saharan Africa who engage in subsistence agriculture. His interest lies in sustainable agribusiness development with positive social impact.

Laura Zaim

University of Pennsylvania

Zaim is currently pursuing her MBA at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus in finance. She is an environmentalist and entrepreneur working to transition the global food system to one that is more sustainable from an environmental, human health and animal welfare perspective. As Venture Partner at New Crop Capital, Zaim helps bring alternative proteins to market by investing in and mentoring early-stage companies developing plant-based, fermented and cultured alternatives to meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. She earned a BA in Anthropology summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis and received the John W. Bennett Prize to the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Anthropology.

Year: 2018

Emery (Hattie) Brown

Tufts University

Brown is a Master of Science candidate at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, where her studies focus on trade and agricultural policy in the interest of international food security. While in graduate school, Brown was a Tisch Fellow at the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Food Assistance Division, where her work focused on the impact of development programs on agricultural markets and trade facilitation. Brown was also on a team at that assessed the capacity of technology platforms to manage in-kind donations in the disaster context. Prior to graduate school, Brown worked in both the private and public finance sectors in a regulatory compliance capacity, implementing requirements set forth by the Bank Security Act, in addition to researching corporate governance issues.

Charles Higgenbotham

Cornell University

Higgenbotham is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences with a specialization in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. His academic interests comprise developing agricultural systems that simultaneously increase food production, restore ecosystem resilience and biodiversity, and improve economic opportunities for small farmers internationally.

Higgenbotham is also served as a Sustainable Agriculture Systems Volunteer in the United States Peace Corps, completing his service in the Comarca Embera-Wounaan within the Darien Province of Panama. His primary mission was to sustainably augment coffee and cacao production among Emberá cultivators, with secondary public health projects concentrating in HIV education. Having been deeply impacted by his experience with the Emberá, Higgenbotham is dedicated to exploring how socially conscious enterprise can contribute to addressing the intractable economic, environmental, and socio-cultural problems facing similar isolated indigenous populations throughout the Americas.

Ambulah Mamey

American University’s School of International Services

Mamey is currently a graduate student at the American University’s School of International Services (SIS), where he is pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Development Management. His concentration is in Agricultural Development and the Environment. Mamey also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and certificates in banking operations, journalism and public relations.

Mamey has worked extensively in Liberia, spanning over eight years in both the public and private sectors. Before joining SIS, he worked with the National Oil Company of Liberia and its partners (ExxonMobil, and TGS NOPEC) on Corporate Social Relations programs that, among other things, trained and empowered at-risk women and youth in food crops production, animal husbandry and entrepreneurship. He previously served as a manager in the Commercial Bank Department of First International Bank Liberia Limited, which is now GN Bank. His interest in agriculture is driven by his conviction that the sector embodies huge potentials to end acute global poverty.

Want to do more to support the Kirchner Food Fellowship?

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.