Apr 052010

By Margaret Swallow

If you are reading this blog, chances are you have probably received the email invitation to Thursday’s event which is being sponsored by the Center for Social Value Creation and the University of Maryland Office of Sustainability.  If you still have not decided whether or not to attend this event, let me suggest these five reasons:

1.   The panel discussion will feature a unique mix of players from the coffee industry, as highlighted below:

  • Martin Mayorga – Martin is the founder of Mayorga Coffee Roasters, Inc.  In addition to roasting coffee for the wholesale market, Martin and his wife manage the local Mayorga Coffee shop.
  • Dennis Macray – Dennis is the Director of Ethical Sourcing for Starbucks.
  • Laura Tillghman – Laura is the Communications Director for Sustainable Harvest in Portland, OR.

From 5-6pm Martin, Dennis, and Laura will participate in a panel discussion that I will moderate and will share their thoughts on some of the most pressing questions facing the coffee industry.

2.  Following the panel discussion, there will be three  breakout sessions as described below:

  • Conservation and Ethical Sourcing and the New Coffee Value Chain – for this session Dennis will be joined by Justin Ward from Conservation International.
  • Fair Trade and Certifications – Laura will be leading this breakout.
  • Gender Equality and Labor – Cristina Manfre, a consultant who has worked many agricultural projects focused on gender issues will join me for this session that will focus on the role that women play in the coffee industry “from seed to cup.”

The breakout sessions will provide an opportunity for attendees to dialogue with the session leaders on these important topics, so if you a question in any of these areas or a great idea you want to share, this is your chance.

3.   If you love coffee but have never been to a coffee farm, this event will help you appreciate the effort it takes for a coffee bean to travel through the value chain.

4.   Even if you’re not a coffee drinker today, you may be someday, so this would be a great chance to learn more about this industry that affects the lives of millions of people, many of them in the developing world.

 5. Free Coffee! Following the breakout sessions there will be a reception from 7-7:30PM featuring a special blend of coffee generously provided by Martin.

I hope that these five reasons have sparked your interest and that you will join us on Thursday.  Please share the word with your friends/family/business colleagues – the event is free and open to the public.  The event will take place in Van Munching Hall.  Details and registration are available via this link: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/svc/coffee/

Maryland alumna Margaret Swallow spent 23 years working for the world’s largest consumer goods company (Procter & Gamble) and four years as the Executive Director of a small nonprofit organization (the Coffee Quality Institute). She is currently a consultant working in both the private and public sectors with a focus on leadership development.

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