Academic Focus Area: Agricultural Product Value Chains
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Advisor: Dan Clay
Ruth Ann plans to combine her new knowledge from her MSU-CSUS masters degree with her varied background of experience to assist large coffee roasters interested in improving their corporate social responsibility efforts at origin. Roasters large and small have made great strides, but continue to find challenges in the complex world of globally traded green coffee, most of which is produced by about 25 million small holder farmers in developing countries.
Ruth Ann is passionate about creating win-win relationships across the globe, especially to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers. This passion led her to start her own company, Artisan Coffee Imports (http://www.ArtisanCoffeeImports.com) in 2009, which she continues to lead currently.
In her academic program, Ruth Ann is combining the core community sustainability coursework with agricultural economics, and supply chain studies from MSU‘s Broad School of Business (rated #2 for graduate supply chain studies by U.S. News & World Report).
Ruth Ann was drawn to the Community Sustainability program by the opportunity to work with Dr. Dan Clay. His on-the-ground involvement as Rwanda and Burundi moved onto the world stage in specialty coffee is highly respected in the industry. Thus, Ruth Ann’s research is focusing on understanding the lessons learned in those countries. Research assistant work included travel to Rwanda and Burundi in March 2014 to attend the International Coffee Symposium and Collaboration Colloquium in Kigali, Rwanda. Then, in March 2015, she had the opportunity to join the "Farm to Cup" fieldwork program in Rwanda (a program that ran jointly with students from Washington State University). Most recently, Ruth Ann moved her family (husband and two children) to Kigali for 9 months to assist with year 1 monitoring and evaluation of the Africa Great Lakes Coffee program, a USAID sponsored coffee research program that will run 2015 - 2018.