Mandela Washington Fellowship at Purdue University Young African Leaders Initiative

2021 Institute Staff

Academic Director


Gary Burniske

Gary Burniske

Managing Director, Center for Global Food Security, Discovery Park

Mr. Burniske is a specialist in international relief and development, with a technical focus on sustainable agriculture, forestry and natural resource management. He is the Managing Director of the Center for Global Food Security within Discovery Park at Purdue University. Mr. Burniske is responsible for the day to day management of the Center and networks with Purdue’s faculty and scientists to take a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling global challenges affecting food security. He supports the Center’s work in education, research and development, and policy.

Mr. Burniske has 35 years of international experience covering over 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Former Soviet Union. He has held senior level technical and managerial positions with humanitarian organizations and international public institutions. Before joining Purdue, Mr. Burniske served as Country Director for Mercy Corps in Colombia and Tajikistan, and Country Director for the Institute for Sustainable Communities in Russia. He worked as Regional Technical Advisor in Agriculture and Natural Resources with CARE covering 25 countries in Asia and Latin America. Mr. Burniske headed the International Tropical Timber Organization’s conservation efforts globally, and was Principal Technical Advisor to the Nicaraguan Forest Service with a leading role in drafting national forest policies and legislation.

Mr. Burniske’s notable accomplishments include the design and management of Mercy Corp’s regional flagship program for Latin America utilizing alternative dispute resolution to resolve land conflicts on two million acres of Afro-descendent and indigenous communal land in the Darien Gap region of Colombia. In Tajikistan, he led the transformation of a small Tajik NGO, the National Association of Business Women into the largest microcredit provider in Tajikistan. Mr. Burniske also has a successful track record in raising funds from bilateral and multi-lateral donors as well as the private sector.

Mr. Burniske holds an MS in Forest Economics and a BS in Natural Resources Management, both from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He is fluent in Spanish, Russian, Thai and Arabic, and conversational in Portuguese.


Leadership Director


Scott Hutcheson

Scott Hutcheson

Director, Purdue Agile Strategy Lab

A social scientist who has studied and practiced strategy and collaboration since 1992, Scott Hutcheson's focus is on designing tools and learning experiences related to collaborative, agile approaches for doing complex work. He has applied his expertise in diverse settings like economic development, innovation, business growth, and social change.

Scott has been engaged by nearly 400 industry, public sector, higher education, and nonprofit clients in 30 U.S. states and internationally and he has worked with the White House, Department of Commerce, National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies in the design and execution of strategies to support economic development and innovation in the U.S. economy.

His teaching at Purdue focuses on designing and delivering powerful learning experiences to help engineering technology students build their skills in collaboration and agile approaches to strategy, and project management. Prior to his career in higher education, Scott worked in both corporate and social change strategy with American Airlines and United Way. He has a Ph.D. in public policy, a masters in public administration, and an undergraduate degree in theater. His doctoral research was on effective strategy in economic development.


Administrative Director


Kara Hartman

Kara Hartman

Study Abroad Manager, International Programs in Agriculture

As the Study Abroad Manager, Kara Hartman directs study abroad programs for the College of Agriculture. Located in International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA), Kara works with faculty and staff to initiate, plan, develop, manage, deliver and evaluate the impact of international educational programs. Since her hire in August 2007, she advises and counsels students regarding study abroad opportunities by finding the best location/institution to fit their academic goals, personal needs, and skills. Securing the proper documentation from the students is key in admission to the host institutions, housing, visa requirements, and medical issues. Developing promotional materials through presentations, callouts, flyers, web pages and other mediums encourages students to study abroad. Through the partner universities, Kara prepares and manages the incoming exchange students that study abroad at Purdue through IPIA. The International Agriculture Ambassadors who represent IPIA and serve as an advocate for study abroad are advised by Kara.


Steering Committee


Heidi Arola

Heidi Arola

Managing Director, Global Partnerships

Heidi Arola joined Purdue’s Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships in August 2015 after a 13-year career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. In her last position, she served as Chief of the Department of State’s Education USA network, overseeing 400 educational advising centers that promote U.S. higher education in 170 countries to millions of international students. Heidi has a B.A. in English with a French minor from Tulane University, and an M.Sc. in Foreign Service, International Relations, from Georgetown University where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Following service in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde, West Africa, and work with the Hmong refugee community in St. Paul, MN, Heidi joined the State Department as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She spent 11 years overseas, nearly six of which were in Brazil where she was last Public Affairs Officer and Deputy Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Recife, Brazil. Heidi was also posted in Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam and Montreal. In her current position, Heidi’s main role is to help Purdue increase the impact, scale, and sustainability of its global partnerships. She is specifically charged with overseeing Purdue’s comprehensive engagement with India, a country of strategic importance for the university.


George Chiu

George Chiu

Assistant Dean, Global Engineering Programs
Professor, Mechanical Engineering

George Chiu is a Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering with courtesy appointments in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. From September 2011 to June 2014, he served as a Program Director in the US National Science Foundation managing the Control Systems Program and the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) for the Engineering Directorate. Currently, he is the Assistant Dean for Global Engineering Programs and Partnerships for the College of Engineering.

Before joining Purdue University, George worked for HP and was part of the team that developed the HP Copyjet product line in the late 1990s. At Purdue, he teaches courses in the systems, measurements and control (SMAC) area and conduct research in mechatronics and dynamical systems and control.

In 1999, working with a team of Purdue students and a West Lafayette High School teacher, George founded the Purdue FIRST Programs, which is a student organization that supports and mentors local and Indiana K-12 students through the FIRST Robotics activities. To facilitate and sustain PFP’s community service, he offered a hands-on experiential style course for PFP college mentors to develop their mentoring, project and event management, and leadership skills.

George served on the Executive Committee of the ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division and was the Chair of the division from June 2013 to June 2014. He also served as the Editor for the Journal of Imaging Science and Technology from 2012 to June 2014. Currently, he is the Editor-in-Chief for the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics. He is a Fellow of ASME and a Fellow of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.


Diana Harbison

Diana Harbison

Assistant Director for International Development, Global Engineering Programs

As Assistant Director for International Development, Diana is responsible for expanding the role that the College of Engineering can play in identifying innovative technological solutions to solve emerging market challenges. She has significant experience developing projects in collaboration with multi-lateral development banks, U.S. and foreign public and private industry stakeholders, as well as identifying and organizing policy-projects associated with the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Power Africa, APEC, ASEAN, WTO and Free Trade Agreements among others. Prior to joining Purdue, Diana held a variety of positions over the course of 15 years at the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), an independent federal Agency tasked with supporting U.S. jobs through U.S. exports for infrastructure projects in emerging markets. She most recently served as Director of the Monitoring and Evaluation Office providing advice on all aspects of the Agency's program, including identifying where programming was most effective. Mrs. Harbison previously served on programmatic teams managing multi-million-dollar portfolios supporting infrastructure project development in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Pakistan. Mrs. Harbison earned a Master's Degree in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and a Bachelor's degree from Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia.


Jerry Shively

Gerald Shively

Associate Dean / Director of International Programs in Agriculture

Jerry is Associate Dean and Director of International Programs in Agriculture at Purdue University. He is also Professor of Agricultural Economics and Faculty Fellow for Global Affairs in Purdue’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships. He has served on the Purdue faculty since 1996 and has more than 20 years of research experience working in the areas of agricultural development, food security and natural resource management worldwide. He has published more than 200 scholarly works and has received numerous teaching and research awards. He is a Fellow of both the International Association of Agricultural Economists and the African Association of Agricultural Economists. He received his PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996.

  • 2021 Institute Staff

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2018 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships 

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact us at dpweb@purdue.edu.