Laura Lazo, Chair
I have a Ph.D. in biology from Dalhousie University, and experience in research, consulting, university teaching, publishing in scientific journals and presenting at international conferences. Currently, I have my own company, Careers in Agriculture and Food, offering HR services for the agriculture and agri-processing industry. I am also a Co-Founder of the Manitoba Women in Agriculture and Food (MWAF) non-profit group.
My role includes providing leadership to the Board, overseeing the overall plan of our organization, develop relationships and engagement within MWAF and with the industry, represent MWAF at external events, promote our organization in the community, liaise with the Secretary on day-to-day developments and with Board Directors on the initiatives that pertain to their roles.
Inspired by the people that make up this industry, I devote my experience and passion to advocate for agriculture, diversity, inclusion and equality as a way to contributing to the fulfillment go our industry’s capacity. Having adopted a servant-leader management style, the values that drive me and MWAF are collaboration and service.
Yuan (Linda) Zhou, Director of Planning & Sustainability
I am an agricultural economist with 5+ years of experience in economic analysis, program evaluation, project management and sustainable development. I graduated with a Master of Science in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics from University of Manitoba. I also hold a Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Program Evaluation from Carleton University. Before moving to Canada, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, as well as in Linguistics from Qingdao Agricultural University. Currently, I work as research analyst at Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).
I joined the MWAF board to share my passion to advance women’s involvement and achievement in the agriculture and food industry. I strive to help MWAF achieve its mission in matters pertaining to sustainability, including MWAF’s partnerships and projects as well as reducing the organization's environmental footprint. I am an all-weather cyclist and runner. I also boulder, compost and volunteer for various organizations to address Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Xiaojie (Emily) Yan, Director of Networking (local)
I am an agriculture engineer with over 7 years of experience in grain storage, food processing and livestock production. Currently I work at University of Manitoba as a research assistant and PhD student in Biosystems Engineering as well. My doctoral research area is animal environment, floor design of pig barn and biomechanical gait analysis of pigs. I gained a bachelor and master’s degree in Food Science and Engineering from China with a focus on grain storage. Then, I moved to Canada in 2015 to achieve a PhD degree.
As the Networking (local) Director, I aim to build a strong network connecting MWAF with supporting parties, our membership and industry. My goal is to promote MWAF and support women in the agriculture and food sector to achieve success.
MariJo Patino, Secretary
I am an Economist with 10+ years of research experience for government, academics and industries, primarily in agriculture, food and industrial development in Canada, United States and Latin America. I graduated with honors from the National University of Asuncion (Paraguay). I received my master degree in MSc. in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba (Canada) in 2014. I am fluent in both Spanish and English, and I have advanced level in French. Currently, I am working as a Freelancer Researcher in different projects related to agriculture and technology.
I co-founded MWAF to advocate for women's inclusion and collaboration in the industry and to help women with diverse backgrounds advance in their careers. My role as Secretary of the Board includes book-keeping, communication and organization development.
I enjoy working with people and supporting people in need. I am also a fan of outdoor activities, meditation and reading.