Executive Director, Edesia
Maria Kasparian is the Executive Director at Edesia, a non-profit organization based in Providence, RI, U.S.A. Edesia is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of malnutrition for vulnerable people in the developing world through manufacturing a range of fortified peanut-based ready-to-use foods (RUFs). Edesia annually produces and exports over 10,000 metric tons of products, which it has shipped to over 50 countries in partnership with humanitarian players including USAID, USDA, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme. Edesia’s ingredients of peanuts, milk, whey, soy, sugar, vegetable oils and vitamins/minerals are sourced from numerous suppliers located in over a dozen different states. In addition to producing high quality RUFs, the organization also: supports research and development to improve products and their distribution models; supports local producers of RUFs in the developing world; and engages in education and advocacy around global hunger and nutrition. Leading a team of 70 Rhode Island-based staff, Maria works closely with many international institutions and ngos involved in nutrition programming and has followed shipments to Guatemala, Haiti, Niger, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Sierra Leone. She has a passion for both the positive effects of social enterprise in the United States, as well as the importance of drawing more attention to the issues of malnutrition and the life-long impact in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
Ms. Kasparian has been with Edesia since its inception in February 2009. Previously Director of Operations, she became the Executive Director in 2015. Her prior experience includes ecology/conservation work in Madagascar with the School for International Training (SIT); education and public health-focused Peace Corps service in Bangladesh; and capacity-building at a rural development NGO (Street Survivors India) in West Bengal, India, as a William J. Clinton Fellow with the American India Foundation. Ms. Kasparian holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations from Brown University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, focused on International Public Service and Development, from Rutgers University.