Allison Grove Smith is the director of CGIAR’s Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service (IAES). IAES is the secretariat for the Independent Science for Development Council and the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment, and it implements CGIAR’s independent evaluation plan.

Allison has played a leading role in development and research settings for 25 years and has planned and implemented strategies, portfolios and change processes.

She directed quality assurance and oversaw monitoring and evaluation in the Europe/Middle East/North Africa region for Catholic Relief Services, one of the world’s largest NGOs. At CRS, in addition to regional and global functions, she led programming and operations in head of office and chief of party capacities for community reconstruction and sustainable livelihoods. Her work focused on people-centered advocacy, peacebuilding and local partner capacity strengthening. Among her roles at CRS, she also served on the board of a microfinance institute in Armenia and led a program combatting human trafficking in Kosovo.

Allison served as a global initiative manager for genetic resources conservation at Bioversity International in Rome, among other appointments. Working alongside scientific teams across multiple disciplines in topics ranging from the world’s banana and plantain genebank to forest genetic resources to seed system policy, Allison and the genetic resources team developed and implemented projects supporting better conservation and use of agrobiodiversity. At Bioversity, she also spearheaded partnership strategies, redesigned global business processes and improved knowledge management systems for the institute.

Before joining IAES in 2019, Allison worked as a consultant and contributed to projects related to sustainability financing and sustainable business practices.

Allison holds a Global Executive MBA from IE Business School and an MSc in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Her undergraduate studies were in anthropology and sociology, with field work in rural Senegal. She has lived and worked in the Caucasus, Balkans and sub-Saharan Africa and has worked with projects being implemented on every continent. She spent her childhood between family farms in Francistown, Botswana and the Chesapeake Bay region in the US, kindling her passion for the importance of smallholder farmers in sustainable food systems.