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Winrock International

A Letter from the President

Within the last year I’ve had several opportunities to stand before an audience and tell the Winrock story. It’s a story I love to tell. I always emphasize the breadth of our experience, the depth of our history and the scientific rigor we bring to all our work. These are three very important dimensions. But there is an equally critical fourth dimension. I’m talking about heart. I’m talking about what propels people to go above and beyond in their quest to make a difference. It’s a dimension we have in abundance here at Winrock International.

Working at Winrock is not a 9-to-5 occupation. When deadlines loom, staff members pull out all the stops to meet them, camping out in the office if need be. This commitment to quality may keep us up at night, but it’s also what separates us from the crowd. When times are tough and political headwinds blow, as they have done recently for international development organizations, it’s quality that makes the difference. And that’s why Winrock has been thriving despite the difficulties.

But our employees are not just generous with their time, they are generous in all ways. Winrock works in more than 40 countries — and some of the most remote corners of the globe. Our employees battle challenging terrain, malaria outbreaks and political unrest to do their jobs. Sometimes they even deal with life-or-death situations. In Gopti, Mali, our staff travel roads patrolled by terrorists to teach girls who’ve never before attended school. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh — the epicenter of the Rohingya refugee crisis — our staffers work to end modern-day slavery and child labor. In Papua, Indonesia, the scene of clashes between police and protesters, staffers continue to fight gender-based violence. Even in the U.S., employees waded into the office despite a 100-year flood in Arkansas.

In a way, this is not surprising. Throughout our history we have been known for bucking the system and changing the world. Founding board member Dr. Norman Borlaug, dubbed the father of the Green Revolution, developed high-yield wheat and is credited with saving a billion people from starvation. He and our first president, Robert Havener, created the World Food Prize, which honors the best annual achievement in ending world hunger. Senior scientist Dr. Sandra Brown is a hero to thousands who work in carbon accounting; she was recognized for work that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Former board member Christiana Figueres brokered the Paris Climate Agreement, which we have pledged to continue following, by the way. Winrock International attracts people who dream big and accomplish enormous things.

In this report, you’ll read about our work in the ginger fields of Myanmar and the pineapple groves of Guinea. You’ll learn how our U.S. Programs Unit helps small towns use their social, intellectual and financial capital to flourish. You’ll read about our ongoing research in carbon sequestration. You’ll also hear the story of a human trafficking victim who survived the unspeakable and now helps others avoid his fate.

It’s easy to get caught up in spreadsheets and meetings and other ordinary tasks, but the work we do isn’t accomplished by ordinary tasks. It’s made possible by extraordinary people who face challenges with good cheer, optimism and purpose. People who stay the course and complete their assignments — from Little Rock to Liberia. The kind of people who work at Winrock International.

Rodney Ferguson
President & Chief Executive Officer