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Michael Watt

Michael Watt

Vice President for International Operations

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Michael is LWR’s Vice President for International Operations. As such, he is responsible for ensuring that LWR’s programs, staff, and offices overseas are managed efficiently and in line with the agency’s strategies. He supervises the Senior Regional Directors for Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as the Senior Director for Emergency Operations, and oversees policies, procedures, and compliance related to international program budgets, structures and staffing, risk management, and staff safety and security. Prior to assuming current position as Vice President for International Operations, Michael worked as Associate Vice President for Field Operations and for nine years as Senior Director for Latin America.

Michael is a multi-lingual leader with 25 years of international development experience in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, including work experience in Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Honduras, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Russia. He has experience in strategic planning, program development, financial management, policy development, and resource acquisition. He has designed, managed, or overseen projects in the areas of agriculture and food security, water and sanitation, Disaster Risk Reduction and emergency response, and democracy and governance. He has procured and managed funds from bilateral and multilateral donors and foundations, including USAID, DOS/DRL, DOS/OES, OFDA, USDA and WFP.

Michael holds an A.B. magna cum laude in History and Literature from Harvard University, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working for Lutheran World Relief for me has been to witness how modest contributions of money and technical assistance from LWR, coupled with the vision, determination and labor of local communities, can have a transformative impact on the lives of people even in the remotest places. For example, LWR worked with a community of fava bean growers in the highlands of Bolivia for over ten years. At the beginning of our relationship, the community was organized into a struggling farmer-owned cooperative that basically grew enough beans to satisfy its own consumption and occasionally to sell on the local market in Potosí. LWR helped the cooperative build a business plan, strengthen its governance, and provide technical assistance to farmers to improve the production and productivity of their crops, including the introduction of irrigation systems. By the time LWR had finished our support to the partner cooperative, it had evolved from a subsistence-focused group to a modern enterprise that was doing business in four currencies, exporting beans not only to neighboring countries in Latin America, but as far afield as Asia, Europe and North America, and was adding value to its production by focusing on vitamin-enriched bean flour for school feeding programs. Membership had grown, farm families were better off, and families were able to use the revenue earned from their business in improvements to their homes and farms, in education for their children, and in other income-generating enterprises.