On July 30th 2020, World Hunger Education Service hosted luncheon to celebrate Antonio Gayoso, a former Board Chair, and Board member for the past 25 years. Antonio retired from the board in January 2022.
Among the attendees were Joan Dudic-Gayoso, Dr. Tony Gayoso (Antonio’s son), former Board members, Dan Shaughnessy, Margie Ferris-Morris, Lane Vanderslice, and Chuck Woolery, and Chuck’s wife Nicki Beatty-Lagoudakis, as well as current Board members, Peter Morris and Sarah Polaski.
Antonio was born in Cuba and along with other students and professors from Havana’s Villanova University, Antonio served in the post-revolutionary government of Cuba as a junior economist in the Ministry of Finance. However, he became concerned as he observed what was happening in the country and when an opportunity to travel abroad presented itself, he went to Jamaica, asked for asylum, and did odd jobs while he waited to enter the United States.
At the University of Florida, he completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration, international trade and finance, and under a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did research toward a Ph.D. in agricultural economics. At the same time he gained his U.S. citizenship.
Antonio joined the U.S. Government in 1969, as an agricultural economist in USAID’s Bureau for Program and Policy Coordination. He spent much of his career in U.S.A.I.D. as an economist and senior manager, responsible for policy development, program planning and implementation, technical design and operational aspects of a wide range of development programs, in the rural and the urban, agriculture, health and education sectors, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Mr. Gayoso was the principal officer in the U.S. International Development Cooperation Agency, and subsequently at the Department of State, was responsible for managing U.S. participation in development programs in the UN, including UNICEF, UNDP, FAO, WFP.
He coordinated U.S. participation in the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, the Mexico Conference on Population and Development and U.S. participation in the World Conference on Education for All. He led US negotiating teams to governing boards of a wide variety of multilateral organizations. As Director of the North American Office of the World Council of Credit Unions (l994-2000), Mr. Gayoso supported credit union development in Africa, Asia, Latin American and Central and Eastern Europe, working on the development of financial management systems and regulatory frameworks to insure credit unions are run effectively and transparently under the cooperative ownership principles.
He has taught Latin American development as an adjunct professor for American University, microfinance and project management at Thunderbird Graduate School of Management, now part of Arizona State University, and microfinance and development policy in the Elliott School of International Affairs of George Washington University.
Mr. Gayoso has served in the Boards of VOCA, the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC); he was Chairman of the World Hunger Education Service, a twenty-year old advocacy NGO focused on hunger issues, and President and Board Member of the U.S. based Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. He also served as s a Director of Global Expand, an internet based business to business start-up, an advisor on economic development issues, and a recruiter for USAID especially among communities underrepresented among USAID staff. Bringing his career full circle, for many years he moderated and served as commentator for Voice of America/Radio Marti, broadcasting weekly to Cuba on global and national economic issues in programs that engaged participation of Cubans on the island.