Kevin Fath: 2014 PMF
I was very fortunate to have been hired into an Agriculture Development Specialist position in the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Bureau for Food Security (BFS) that offers opportunities to expand my skill set and seek new and challenging experiences. I serve in the dynamic Office of Market and Partnership Innovations where we engage the private sector and find market-led solutions to challenges in food security, nutrition, and resilience building. During my two years as a PMF, I had the opportunity to work in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, coordinated a meeting between the USAID Administrator and the new Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, traveled to Colombia to help advance civilian-military coordination ahead of the Government of Colombia reaching an accord with the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) and engaged with U.S. companies like Walmart and Starbucks.
Many are aware of the 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the devastating loss of life that occurred and strain this placed on already weak health systems. What received less attention were the deep economic impact the emergency causes and the depth of food insecurity that also resulted.
Late in 2014 and shortly after my employment began, I responded to an Agency Notice seeking volunteers for an Ebola Personnel Surge. This resulted in a five and a half month PMF developmental assignment to serve as the Agricultural Development Officer based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. While in Sierra Leone, it was my job to engage and coordinate with the Government of Sierra Leone, other donors, the private sector, and civil society. I conducted site visits to learn from farmers and farmer organizations and to see ongoing agricultural development projects. This coordination and information gathering allowed me to ground truth and formulate rapid assessments that informed the Feed the Future concept paper that I authored. These efforts ultimately led to a multi-year strategy to spur agriculture-led economic recovery in one of the country's regions hardest hit by Ebola.
During a rotation as a PMF, I served as a Civilian-Military Coordinator in the USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. In this role, I coordinated high-level engagements between U.S. Southern Command and USAID and helped ensure effective sharing of information during the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean. During an assignment to Bogota, Colombia, as peace talks were underway between the government and the FARC, I met with senior USAID mission staff and personnel in the U.S. Department of Defense's Civil-Military Support Element to help build valuable relationships for coordination post-peace deal. I now serve as the Civ-Mil point of contact in my home bureau.
Since conversion, I have continued in my role as an Agriculture Development Specialist and look forward to the exciting opportunities to come.