Chuck Chopak is a Senior Lead Specialist in DAI’s Resilience and Stability practice with more than 35 years of experience managing, planning, and implementing food security and livelihood activities across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Thirty years ago Chuck earned a bachelor’s degree, but couldn’t see a career in biology or sociology, his dual major at Tulane University. He was intrigued, though, by a posting by Peace Corps for those interested in wanting to teach smallholder farmers to how to do fish farming. Figuring it a great way to learn French and travel to Africa, Chuck joined the Peace Corps for what turned out to be a five-year assignment in Ndjareme, a village of 200 people in northern Senegal. The village chief gave him the name Ibrahima Diene, and he went to work building fish ponds and showing villagers how to raise fish. After a few years, Chuck worked with three farmers to grow rice and raise fish in the same pond, producing the two main ingredients in the Senegalese national dish called ceeb u jen, or rice and fish. “It was my time in the Peace Corps that I realized the work I was doing in Ndjiareme was the types of things I wanted to be doing in my career,” he said.

After earning his doctorate, Chuck went on to lead some of the world’s most important food security programs, including the Washington, D.C.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). He served long-term postings in Senegal and Zimbabwe and completed assignments in numerous African nations and Haiti, in addition to previously serving with DAI as Senior Principal Global Practice Leader in Food Security, Resilience, and Livelihoods, Managing Director for Africa, Vice President of Technical Services, and Vice President for Development Results. Today, Chuck provides technical expertise and strategic guidance to Resilience and Stability practice activities.

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