Jane Maland Cady, The McKnight Foundation

TITLE: International Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Women's empowerment, food security, building institutions in select countries

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Cady's International program at McKnight is open to different approaches to improving the lives of rural people in developing countries.

PROFILE: Program Director Jane Maland Cady heads up The McKnight Foundation's International Program, where she is tasked with overseeing the organization's grantmaking in a number of countries around the world.

Maland Cady holds a master's degree and a PhD in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota. She was also the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant, teaching at two federal universities in Brazil.

At first glance, agriculture and international grantmaking may not seem to gel, but the goal of The McKnight Foundation's International Program is to "promote strong rural livelihoods and food security for people with limited opportunities." When they put it that way, Maland Cady seems to fit in just right as the program's leader.

Prior to joining the McKnight Foundation in 2008, Maland Cady owned the consulting firm Criando Research and Evaluation Services. She has worked in the private sector to expand markets in the United States, strongly supporting fair trade and organic products from South America. During her two decades of experience, Maland Cady has acquired a keenly developed skill set, particularly in working with community development and sustainable agriculture programs both nationally and internationally.

At McKnight, Maland Cady focuses her grantmaking efforts on the promotion of strong livelihoods in rural areas located in Southeast Asia—Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, specifically. (McKnight has discontinued its work in East Africa and the funds from this program have been reallocated to the foundation's Collaborative Crop Research Program.)

McKnight's Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) promotes food security, not by awarding small farming grants, but through applied crop research. For the less agriculturally inclined, applied crop research has to do with improving crop production and treating or curing specific plant diseases. This $100 million initiative takes a "a holistic, ecosystem approach to agriculture, supporting research and partnerships that lead to increased crop productivity, improved livelihoods, and better nutrition." In 2008 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave its seal of approval to the CCRP in the form of a $26.7 million grant. In 2013, Gates granted five years of additional support toward the program.

According to The McKnight Foundation, in 2007, the year before Maland Cady's arrival, a mere 7 percent of the foundation's annual grantmaking was awarded out of its International Programs. That 7 percent amounted to 51 grants awarded. By 2013, that piece of the pie was only up to 10 percent and 54 grants awarded.

Although she may be judicious in choosing which organizations are bestowed with a McKnight grant, Maland Cady seems to be an equal opportunist regarding the size of organizations to which grants are awarded. While the number of International Program grants awarded annually is relatively low, your organization does not have to be a big-name university or foundation to receive a grant. Maland Cady lends support large organizations such as the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, but she supports a large number of community-based foundations in her program's geographical areas of interest. And per a blog post she contributed to the foundation's website, "collaboration" is the watchword.

In a refreshing change of pace, grant seekers are asked to first familiarize themselves with McKnight's grant guidelines and then are encouraged to contact the foundation at 612-333-4220 to discuss their inquiry with a program director. You just can't beat that kind of accessibility.