Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw

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Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw "is Director of Catholic Relief Services' Public Resource Group, based in Baltimore. She is responsible for acquiring and managing financial resources and food aid provided by the U.S. and other governments for use in CRS programs around the world. She also develops training programs in resource acquisition for CRS staff, mentors staff in aspects of their work that relate to public resources and acts as a liaison between CRS and government officials and representatives of private voluntary organizations. She oversees the development of agency public policy related to foreign aid, hunger and food security.

"Ms. Kuennen joined CRS in 1988 as Project Manager, and later Assistant Country Representative for Cameroon where she also oversaw projects in Chad and Equatorial Guinea. In 1989, she received one of eight CRS employee merit awards.

"In 1992, she was transferred to Ethiopia as Assistant Country Representative and Head of Program Development. Over the next two years she reduced emergency assistance in Ethiopia and increased development programs. She was responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring more than 40 relief, rehabilitation and development projects.

"In 1994, Ms. Kuennen was appointed CRS Public Donor Liaison for East Africa, based in Baltimore, where she was in charge of U.S. government grants for programs in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda and Sudan. In 1995, she became the Director of the Public Donor Relations Unit, responsible for maintaining key relationships at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly with Food for Peace and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. At that time, she also worked extensively with CRS staff in Burkina Faso, revising the country's Development Activities Proposal and defining educational interventions. As a result, USAID reversed its decision not to fund CRS' Burkina Faso education program.

"In 1996, Ms. Kuennen became CRS' Asia Regional Team Leader, negotiating on behalf of CRS programs in Asia for public resources from the U.S. government, the European Union and other donors. She was the primary point of contact at headquarters representing nine CRS country programs in Asia and activities in an additional five countries. Among other things, she successfully advocated for CRS to develop a program in North Korea.

"In 1997, she was appointed CRS Recruitment and Employment Manager for overseas and domestic staff. In 1998, she became Title II (Food for Peace) Resource Manager. Title II is the U.S. government program designed to address the causes of food insecurity among vulnerable populations. She developed CRS' capacity to acquire and manage Title II resources. She also managed the Institutional Support Assistance funds awarded to CRS by Food for Peace to improve the agency's capacity to program Title II food aid resources effectively. She then became the Director of CRS' Public Resource Group in 2002.

"Ms. Kuennen has received one of ten Agency Special Recognition Awards for her outstanding contribution to the achievement of two key CRS objectives: increasing funding and responding to emergencies.

"Ms. Kuennen grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, where she attended New Trier High School. She has a B.A. in Linguistics, with honors, from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. in International Business and an M.P.A. in Public Administration, both from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. From 1986 to 1988 she served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, implementing new training methods for farmers of diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.

"She is married to Kifle Asfaw, an Ethiopian national who is now a U.S. citizen. A professional chef, he operates a home-based business. They have a son, Kirubel and a daughter, Israel." [1]

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  1. Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw, Catholic Relief Services, accessed January 21, 2009.
  2. Directors, Alliance to End Hunger, accessed January 21, 2009.