Board of trustees

Aly Abousabaa

Director General
Ex Officio, Egypt

Aly Abousabaa became ICARDA’s director general in October 2016. He brings 33 years of strategic leadership in sustainable development, operational and policy-based lending, and project management, spanning 35 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

As vice president of the African Development Bank, Abousabaa led the preparation and execution of the Bank’s key strategies. He was also in charge of resource mobilization and management of a US$ 11 billion portfolio in the areas of agriculture, water, natural resources management, climate change, infrastructure, women and youth, and governance, making transformational impact on the lives of millions of people in Africa.

He has an established global network of international partners on development, including the World Bank, the United Nations, European Union, African Union, bilateral agencies, such as GIZ, DFID, and NORAD, and non-governmental organizations.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, and a master’s in civil engineering from Montana State University in the United States. 

Fadlallah Gharzeldeen


Garzaldeen is deputy head of planning affairs with the Planning and International Cooperation Commission of the Syrian Arab Republic. He has been with the commission since 1997. He has extensive experience in using macro-economic models as a planning tool to support Syria's economic and social development.

Garzaldeen holds a bacheler’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in general accounting from Damascus University.

Hilary F. Wild

United Kingdom

Hilary Wild is a chartered accountant. She has a portfolio of independent roles within international organizations, specializing in financial management, audit, risk, and governance.

She has held senior positions in financial management in public and private sector organizations. Previously, she was Comptroller of the World Health Organization in Geneva for seven years. Prior to that, she was director in the Kleinwort Benson group in London, initially in investment banking, and subsequently in asset management. Wild has also worked for UNICEF as chief of finance and a major commercial bank in London, as the bank's representative in Greece.

Margret Thalwitz


Margret Thalwitz is a senior expert fellow with the Center for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Essen-Duisburg. She is also a consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, and the German government. She joined ICARDA’s Board in October 2012.

Previously, she was an economist and project manager for the World Bank. Her regional focus included Africa, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Russia and the CIS, and South Asia. Thalwitz was the first director of the World Bank's Global Programs and Partnerships Department. After leaving the World Bank, she was a visiting fellow at Oxford University and the German Development Institute.

Thalwitz holds a master’s degree in economics and a post-graduate diploma in development economics from the German Development Institute.

Michel Afram


A specialist in agricultural education and policy, Michel Afram is president of the Board of Directors and director general of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute.

He also serves as deputy director of the Global Association of Francophone Agricultural and Food Processing Universities. He is a member of the Lebanese Higher Agricultural Council and professor at the School of Agriculture, Saint Joseph University. He is also a member of several Lebanese national committees pursuing improved agriculture and food production. Previously, he was dean of the School of Agriculture, Saint Joseph University, from 1993 to 2002.