The board of directors of Fairtrade International announced the election of eight board members during its annual General Assembly. The board members, who were elected to a three-year term, bring diversity and valuable skills.

“I am pleased to welcome our new board members to Fairtrade International, their unique expertise and leadership abilities will be extremely valuable as we move towards our goals of fostering growth and innovation, promoting commercial value with a responsibility lens, and working on social justice through advocacy and partnerships,” said Laurence Tanty, chair of the Fairtrade International Board, who was also re-elected for a second term. “I appreciate this distinguished group of leaders who have dedicated themselves to join us on our mission to ensure a fairer and more sustainable world through ethical trade.” 

The newly elected board members are: 

Christelle Owona, national Fairtrade organization representative, Max Havelaar France, (Cameroon) is a project manager at the Actuel Compagnie Fruitiere Foundation with extensive experience in sustainability, human rights due diligence, gender issues, ethical trade, and supply chain management. Owona is also a Max Havelaar France Board Member, and a co-chair and coordinator of the working group on gender equity at the Food and Agricultural Organization’s World Banana Forum.  

She is excited to be a part of the Fairtrade board and address the key challenges and opportunities that the future holds. 

Hussein Rifai, independent board member, (Jordan) is the chair of SPC Global Board in Australia and chair of Nature One Dairy, based in Singapore. He also serves as chair of Perpetuity Capital, an Australian financial services and investment company focused on providing corporate advisory and financing solutions to small and medium-size enterprises. He has worked with Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Ernst & Young. In addition, he has worked extensively with agricultural producers, as well as a consultant for the Australian Government. He is actively leading on antislavery programs aiming at combatting modern slavery in the tomato sector in Europe and other locations. 

An entrepreneur at heart with a solid corporate background, his advocacy experience will be a great addition to the board. 

Hend M.H. Kassab, producer network representative, Fairtrade Africa, (Egypt) is the quality & corporate affairs director at DALTEX Corporation, an Egyptian trade, export, and cultivation/production company. She is currently the vice chair of Fairtrade Africa board of directors, she is also chair of the Fairtrade Africa Board Marketing Steering Committee and the Board Human Resources Committee. She is a passionate defender of fair trade practices advocating for the rights of farmers and workers in Africa and for improving social and gender equality. 

She brings a fresh perspective, collaborative spirit, and a relentless dedication to Fairtrade's mission and is excited about working alongside fellow Board members who share her passion for social justice and ethical business practices. 

Jeremiah Mweene, Producer Network Representative, Fairtrade Africa, (Zambia) is a professional banker at Absa Bank Zambia where he has proven his abilities in managing people and systems. He is a member of Fairtrade Africa Board of Directors, where his leadership and strategic direction have driven achievement and helped manage change and achieve organizational goals. He is also on the Board of the Kaleya Smallholders Farmers Association Mazabuka Zambia where he serves as Chair of the Premium Committee.

As a passionate sugar cane producer, Mweene will bring a wealth of hands-on experience combined with deep understanding of the economy to the Fairtrade International Board.  

Marike Runneboom de Peña, producer network representative, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (Netherlands) is currently the president of the board of directors of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers where she has worked to build strong networks at the regional, country, and product and worker level. She has seen and suffered the devastating impact of low prices, unfair trading practices, climate change, and the lack of basic needs and rights but also witnessed the strength and capacity of farmers to address these challenges.  

She has more than 35 years of experience working with small producers in the Dominican Republic and brings a wealth of experience to the board.   

The board members re-elected to a second term are: 

Laurence Tanty, chair, (France) is chair of the Fairtrade International Board, a role she began in August 2023, and has served on the Board since 2021. In her current leadership role, she has focused on improving delivery of Fairtrade International’s centrally led initiatives, while also putting growth at the top of the board’s agenda. She is also leading discussions on how to make governance structures better fit for purpose. In addition, she is also on the board of Fairtrade Belgium where she advises on sustainable food supply strategies and commercial development with retail partners, and the board of Travel Sentry Inc. a leader for branded certified luggage security locks.

Laurence has over 30 years of international experience as senior executive in food, packaging, and fast-moving consumer goods industries. Her multi-cultural perspective and hands on business experience is extremely valuable to the board.  

Rhea Beltrami, NFO representative, Max Havelaar Switzerland, (Switzerland), is currently serving as the head of agriculture of the State of Zurich. She has also been a member of the Fairtrade International Board since 2021 and sits on the NAPP Task Force Committee. She is also a member of the Max Havelaar Switzerland Board. Prior to her government role, she was the head of sustainable procurement at Coop, one of Switzerland’s leading retailers. 

She has extensive management and leadership experience in trade, retail, agricultural production processing, logistics, and public administration. Her ability to deal with challenging political topics and her work in advocacy are useful to the board.

They join the current Board members William (Bill) Barrett, vice chair, National Fairtrade Organization representative, Fairtrade Canada; Frank Harnischfeger, treasurer, independent board member; Pravakar Meher, producer network representative, Fairtrade NAPP.

Fairtrade is thankful to Miguel Munguia, producer network representative, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers; Wambui Chege, independent board member; Merling Preza, producer network representative, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers; Kouame N’Dri Benjamin Francklin, producer network representative, Fairtrade Africa; and Andrea Debbané, National Fairtrade Organization representative, Max Havelaar France, who were valuable board members.   

The Fairtrade International Board is responsible for the strategic direction of Fairtrade and its financial and risk management. Its composition is regulated in the Fairtrade International constitution.

Related: Fairtrade releases 2023 annual report