International Development Specialist


Jeffrey E. Engels is a fourth generation Californian who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He attended local public schools and received his Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in International Studies from Dominican University in 1983. As an undergraduate, Jeffrey studied Russian history, literature, and politics.  His Senior Thesis, 'On the Plausibility of Marxism', led upon graduation to a lengthy solo tour of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  This was the first of several trips that Jeffrey took to the USSR over the next few years.

Interested in international politics and law, with an eye to the Foreign Service, Jeffrey enrolled in the University of San Francisco School of Law. During law school, Jeffrey attended the Institute on International & Comparative Law in Moscow, Russia, and Warsaw, Poland.  While at the Institute he studied East-West trade that inspired him to shift his emphasis from international law to international commerce and trade.

In 1987 Jeffrey joined Lockwood International, an export management firm that specialized in consulting, sourcing, and supplying infrastructure products for developing countries throughout Asia. Over the course of the next 13 years Lockwood International participated in most major infrastructure projects in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.  However, it was the least developed countries where Lockwood International worked--such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam--that interested Jeffrey the most.  

Lockwood International grew to an annual USD$7.0 million operation with several domestic and international affiliate offices by 1994, when Jeffrey became President and partner.  Jeffrey was instrumental in opening up secondary markets and diversified Lockwood's client portfolio in Latin America and the Middle East.  In 1995, while traveling in Peru, Jeffrey met his wife, Karla Wesley Ph.D., then a graduate student conducting research in the Amazon Basin.

Jeffrey and Karla married in 1999 and while Karla pursued a doctorate at the University of California at Davis, Jeffrey began a private consulting practice in 2001 with a focus on international trade, business development, and marketing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  Assignments included work in Chile, Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia.

In Armenia, Jeffrey worked on several marketing plans in the agriculture sector. While in Yerevan, Jeffrey was invited to join the United States Department of Agriculture's Marketing Assistance Project (USDA-MAP), the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Exension Service's largest and longest running agribusiness development project worldwide. The Marketing Assistance Project (USD$7.5 million annually) was a unique undertaking by the USDA, providing a concerted combination of technical, marketing, and financial assistance to more than sixty core clients-food processors covering all major agricultural sectors.  In addition, building capacity within the Armenian Agricultural Academy, MAP established four new Academy departments--the Agribusiness Teaching Center (ATC), the Foundation for Applied Research & Agriculture (FARA), the Small Farm Water Management Research Center (SFWMRC), and an Extension service. Simultaneously, MAP founded the ARID Goat Center, an outgrowth of a successful genetic enhancement breeding project that grew into an independent organization providing insemination, veterinarian, and small ruminant health and herd management services.  Jeffrey served as USDA-MAP's Marketing Manager for two years, focusing on assistance to farmers and SMEs to develop high value horticulture for the domestic and international markets before he became MAP's Director and Project Coordinator (2003-2005).

In 2005 USDA-MAP closed down and Jeffrey phased-over its staff and activities to an NGO he co-founed--The Center for Agribusiness & Rural Development (CARD).  Under Jeffrey's guidence, and with a select team of Armenian development professionals, CARD assisted farmers and agribusinesses in producing, marketing, and exporting food and related products to increase incomes, create jobs, and raise the standard of living for rural Armenians through an integrated package of market-driven agricultural development services. Jeffrey provided leadership to CARD's Management Team, organized and implemented development projects aimed at improving food security, increasing private sector-led economic growth, enhancing export competitiveness, advancing SME and value- chain development, and achieving sustainable agriculture.  In so doing, Jeffrey collaborated with many partners--the USDA, USAID, the World Bank, ACDI/VOCA, the FAO, UMCOR, Action Against Hunger, U.S. land grant universities, the Armenian Agricultural Academy, the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, and other international and national organizations.

In 2007 Jeffrey and Karla moved to Australia where Jeffrey began his doctorate in Development Studies at the University of Melbourne. Jeffrey wrote his dissertation on 'Aid Project Exit Strategies: Building strong sustainable institutions'.  His dissertation focused on the conditions necessary to complete a foreign aid project phase-over to a local institution through an in-depth analysis of the human and institutional capacity building involved.  Jeffrey received his Ph.D. in 2010. 

Since graduation Jeffrey and Karla have remained in Australia. Karla is currently the Regional Manager of Africa and the Middle East for Australian Volunteers International (AVI), managing 6 Country Managers across 12 countries.  Jeffrey consults worldwide, most recently on USAID assignments in Africa.   

Accepting an Honorary Doctorate from the Armenian Agricultural Academy, November, 2005.
Selected Publications
Photo Gallery
On The Run
International Trade
Doctoral Studies