First female CEO commences at ACIAR

14 August 2023
Professor Wendy Umberger

Professor Wendy Umberger has commenced her term as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at ACIAR, becoming the first woman to lead the agency in its 41-year history. 

Appointed by Australia's Foreign Minister in July, Professor Umberger joins ACIAR with 20 years of leadership experience in sustainable agriculture, most recently serving as President of Australia’s Policy Advisory Council

Speaking at ACIAR House this morning, Professor Umberger commended staff for their ongoing dedication and lauded the agency’s strong position to further contribute to transforming global agrifood systems. 

‘Food systems have never been under such pressure. We must discover new ways to grow more and healthier food with less land and fewer resources while reducing emissions. Future productivity and production gains cannot come at the expense of the environment; and they must be equitable. It's an immense challenge, all at a time when the impacts of climate change are worsening,’ said Professor Umberger. 

‘Smallholder farmers in developing countries feed more than half the world’s population. Now more than ever, these farming communities need equitable access to evidence-based information, understanding of markets, and the latest relevant tools to help them become more resilient. Australia has a big role to play. 

‘It’s an honour and a privilege to lead ACIAR, an organisation connecting Australia’s agricultural scientists and researchers to the developing world for more than four decades. Although relatively small in size, ACIAR contributions to improving food security, reducing poverty, and improving the livelihoods throughout the Indo-Pacific region are considerable. 

‘ACIAR is in a solid position to further its work at a time when the world is crying out for agricultural innovations to secure our future. 

‘I’d like to acknowledge our research partner organisations and agencies in Australia and around the world for their enduring commitment to agricultural research-for-development,’ added Professor Umberger. 

‘I look forward to meeting you in the months ahead and working collaboratively to further strengthen the research partnerships needed to underpin sustainable agrifood systems.’

 Professor Umberger is just the seventh CEO at ACIAR since the organisation was established in 1982. 

Learn more about Professor Umberger via her biography.