Gund Affiliate, Executive Director, Vermont Caribbean Institute

Margarita Fernandez is the Executive Director of the Vermont Caribbean Institute (VCI), a small non-profit organization that implements collaborative projects, and coordinates professional exchanges and educational courses that address sustainable food systems and biodiversity conservation in Cuba since 2004. She also coordinates the Cuba-US Agroecology Network. Margarita joined VCI in January 2015 after nearly 20 years working on transdisciplinary research and the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of international cooperation projects in the Global South including Cuba, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Venezuela.

She specializes in agroecology and food systems, sustainable livelihoods, certification systems, food security/sovereignty and biodiversity conservation. Margarita has worked with multi-stakeholder teams at the research-practice-policy nexus to link results-based evidence with action and policy change. She has worked long term contracts as an urban farms community organizer in New York City (Green Guerillas), organic farm manager in upstate New York (Tierra Farm), program officer for organic agriculture program in Laos (Helvetas), technical reviewer for organic product certification with a focal area of Mexico, USA, and Canada (QAI), and research associate (UVM-Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative). She has also worked short-term consultancies for a wide range of groups such as Food First (Cuba), Global Exchange (Cuba), Oxfam (Laos and Cuba), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT-Mexico), the Global Plant Clinic-FUNICA (Nicaragua), United Nations Development Program (Cuba), and Hivos (Cuba).  Since 1998, she has been collaborating in Cuba with state, non-governmental and international organizations on the island and serves as an advisor to several groups working in Cuba.


Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Agroecology and food systems, sustainable livelihoods, certification systems, food security/sovereignty, biodiversity conservation


  • PhD, Agroecology, University of Vermont
  • MS, Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
  • BS, Biology, Tufts University