Catherine Sparks


Catherine Sparks

Program Officer, Melanesia

Catherine Sparks is a Canadian born community development and gender specialist who has spent over twenty-five years working with peoples’ organizations in Melanesia and the South Pacific tackling the linkages between land, environment, culture, gender, and development.  She started with the South Pacific Peoples Foundation (now Pacific Peoples Partnership) of Canada where she compiled materials around militarism and colonialism in the Pacific, and then worked as the Associate Director of the Indonesia-Canada Research Project collaborating with Indigenous environmental groups to assess the impact of Canadian aid and corporate involvement on the environment and Indigenous people of West Papua, producing a video and contributing to a monograph on the issue. She then moved to Papua New Guinea as a CUSO Cooperant where she first worked with a women’s group in Gembogl, Simbu Province, in the highlands, and then with the Melanesian Environment Foundation (on a campaign around proposed Forestry Act amendments) and the Melanesian Trust (putting together a critical literacy training manual). Meanwhile, she started working as Editor and then Publishing Manager of Papua New Guinea’s National Research Institute in Port Moresby.

In 1996, Catherine moved to Lou Island in Manus Province where she lived and learned as a traditional farmer for over three years, also providing support to a local community development and environmental organization. Following a period of further study at the University of Victoria in Canada, during which she also served as Board Secretary to the Pacific Peoples Partnership, she relocated to Ambrym Island in Vanuatu in 2002 to undertake community-based research and then to Port Vila.

Prior to joining Christensen, Catherine served for four years as the Country Representative for CUSO in Vanuatu partnering and posting volunteers with a wide variety of government, civil society, community and international development agencies, focusing particularly on the revival of Melanesian culture particularly with respect to land, sea and traditional economies. She holds a B.A. in Pacific and Asian Studies from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada and an M.A. in Dispute Resolution from the same institution with a thesis entitled, “Rural Women and Everyday Resistance to Structural Adjustment in Melanesia”, based on several months of community research in Vanuatu.


More staff


Ainura Ishenbekova

Ainura Ishenbekova

Business and Program Associate
Alibek Otambekov

Alibek Otambekov

In-region Program Consultant, Tajikistan
Anna Huang

Anna Huang

Assistant Controller
Brian Burgin

Brian Burgin

Grants Manager
Catherine Sparks

Catherine Sparks

Program Officer, Melanesia
China Ching

China Ching

Director of Grantmaking
Daisee Francour

Daisee Francour

Christensen Fellow
Dan Porras

Dan Porras

Communications Consultant
Erjen Khamaganova

Erjen Khamaganova

Program Officer, Central Asia
Francisco Chapela

Francisco Chapela

Program Officer, Northwest Mexico
Hassan Roba

Hassan Roba

Program Officer, African Rift Valley
Jeff Pace

Jeff Pace

Director of Finance and Operations
Jyldyz Doolbekova

Jyldyz Doolbekova

Regional Program Coordinator
Kyra Busch

Kyra Busch

Program Officer, Agrobiodiversity & Resilient Biocultural Landscapes
Lacey Strong

Lacey Strong

Travel and Business Specialist
Mayumi Fujio

Mayumi Fujio

Executive Assistant and Board Liaison
Milena Miyashiro

Milena Miyashiro

Grants Manager
Sanjay Bavikatte

Sanjay Bavikatte

Executive Director
Sheri Lad

Sheri Lad

Accountant
Stanislava Stancheva

Stanislava Stancheva

Grants Officer, Compliance and Philanthropic Practices
Yeshi TekleMichael

Yeshi TekleMichael

Grants Manager