Food Initiative/

Sara Farley

Managing Director, Integrated Operations, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

As Managing Director Sara Farley leads the global portfolio and spearheads integrated operations for The Rockefeller Foundation’s food team.  In this capacity, she guides the work of operationalizing systems frameworks in strategy, grantmaking, and MERL (monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning) and leads such signature initiatives as the Food Systems Vision Prize and the Food System Summit. Assuring that the foundation’s portfolio delivers transformed food systems that optimize human and planetary health while increasing inclusivity and resilience to future shocks guides her efforts.

Prior to joining the Foundation, she co-founded the Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI) which she led for a decade, nurturing it from a concept to an organization designated as one of the “Top 100 Social Innovations for the next century”.  During her time at GKI, Sara cultivated a dynamic team that she led in the design and execution of GKI’s programs in systems research and evaluation, network optimization, and collaborative innovation strategy setting, including serving as The Rockefeller Foundation’s Social Innovation Lab on Waste and Spoilage.

Prior to founding GKI, Sara spent a decade as an innovation strategist for the World Bank and other donor and development organizations.  She has been commissioned by national governments, and international development organizations (African Development Bank, UNIDO, etc.) to lead thinking, develop networks, and devise policies to strengthen developing countries’ science and innovation capacity.

Sara graduated with honors in Science, Technology, and Society from Stanford University’s School of Engineering where she also earned a Masters degree in International Policy Studies. Following her time at Stanford, she was a Rotary International Ambassadorial Fellow at the Universidad de Buenos Aires where she did a postgraduate study in Technology Policy and Management. Sara’s list of publications includes more than 70 monographs, studies, and papers.

Authored Content

  • Oct 28 2020
    Blog Post Sowing the Seeds for a Better Food Future in Asia Covid-19 has reminded humanity of the critical importance of a strong and functioning food system. With a quarter of a billion people facing acute hunger by the end of the year, bold collective action cannot wait. Global hunger has been on an indefensible rise for many years, and Asia—home to nearly half a billion of the world’s hungry and […] Deepali Khanna, Sara Farley
  • Jul 23 2020
    Blog Post Cities of the Future: Envisioning Better Urban Food Systems in 2050 Have you ever noticed how most books, movies, and TV shows that paint a picture of the future are negative and dystopic? We at The Rockefeller Foundation did. Looking to inspire more hopeful and ambitious thinking, we created the Food System Vision Prize, challenging communities around the world to describe an ideal vision for their […] Daniel Skaven Ruben, Sara Farley
  • Jul 15 2020
    Blueprint Designing a Nourishing Food Future for 2050 Imagine a world where food systems are more nourishing, regenerative and equitable, where year-round nourishment for all is a reality, and where individual food cultures are honored in their own rights. “The future of food systems is, without doubt, a complex issue.  When beginning the journey to change the outlook from dire to thriving, we […] Maria Balcazar Tellez, Matt Ridenour, Sara Farley
  • Jun 23 2020
    Blog Post How to Reimagine Our Food Systems for a Post-Covid World The Covid-19 crisis is a ‘stress test’ for our global food systems – and they are failing. Today we see farmers dumping milk and ploughing crops back into their fields, even as stores empty and the need for food assistance surges. We see export restrictions and price hikes as experts predict dramatic increases in malnutrition globally. These failures demand that […] Sara Farley, Sara Scherr
  • Apr 07 2014
    Blog Post New Innovations to Reduce Harvest Loss in Africa Approximately one-third of food grown across the world never reaches the plates of consumers. The significant amount of food waste and spoilage occurring across the value chain threatens farmers’ livelihoods; people’s access to nutritious food; and vital, limited resources like land and water. Many promising approaches to reducing food loss exist, including hermetic storage devices, […] Amanda Rose, Sara Farley
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