2019-2021 Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholars Announced

2019-2021 Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholars Announced

The staff and volunteers at the Specialty Coffee Association are pleased to introduce the recipients of the 2019-2021 Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship Program. First announced at the Re:co Symposium in April 2018, LEAD is aimed at increasing diversity of leadership within the global coffee community by enabling access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of S&D Coffee & Tea.

The 2019-2020 LEAD Scholars are:

  • Sunghee Tark | Co-founder and Director of Bean Voyage in Costa Rica
  • Karla María Boza Carbonell | Marketing, Innovation, and Business Relations for Finca San Antonio Amatepec in El Salvador
  • Emi-Beth Quantson | CEO & Founder of Kawa Moka Limited in Ghana
  • MJ Engel | Teaching Fellow at Phillips Academy Andover in the United States
  • Amara Sao | Founder and Coffee Roaster at Homecoming Coffee Company in Cambodia


“We were pleased to work with SCA to develop the LEAD program in 2018. Our unified goal of providing access to resources otherwise beyond the reach to many in our coffee community is being fulfilled! The first year of this two-year inaugural cohort has exceeded our expectations, and we are so pleased that we decided to sponsor another (5) scholars for 2019-2020,” said Helen Griffith, VP, Marketing, S&D Coffee & Tea. “These scholars have the proven ability to create real change in the industry and we want to make sure they get off to an excellent start.”

As a global nonprofit organization, SCA recognizes that access to membership, coffee events, and education differ for individuals depending on their identity, background, and access to financial resources. The coffee industry has a lot of work to do to diversify its leadership at every point in the value chain and overcoming these obstacles will require proactive efforts and dedicated resources. LEAD is designed to be a small but important step towards progress in this area.

SCA Executive Director Yannis Apostolopoulos said, “The LEAD Scholarship Program is now in its second year, thanks to the generosity of our partners at S&D Coffee & Tea, and we receive dozens of applications from all over the world. We couldn’t be happier to work with these five professionals who will embark on a 2-year program with us that includes free participation at SCA’s industry events and educational activities, as well as career development and network expansion opportunities.”

We welcome this new cohort of LEAD Scholars and look forward to the opportunity to engage them in SCA activities, and for the value they bring to the specialty coffee industry as a whole.

Learn more about the LEAD program, including benefits and future application opportunities, on our website at sca.coffee/LEAD.

Meet the Scholars

Sunghee Tark

Co-founder and Director, Bean Voyage, Costa Rica

I’m the co-founder of Bean Voyage, currently finishing my Master’s student at London School of Economics and a freelance coffee writer. My interest in the specialty coffee industry has initially stemmed from my passion to understand the intersectionality of income and gender inequality and I looked at coffee as one of the tools to address the issue. Through my work with Bean Voyage, a feminist non-profit social enterprise that I co-founded with Abhinav Khanal, I collaborate with smallholder womxn coffee producers and youths in coffee communities to co-create a sustainable supply chain that works for all. As a Master’s student, I’m currently researching how coffee producers’ cooperatives can effectively address the intersectionality of gender and income inequality. As a freelance coffee writer, I have written to raise awareness about the cost of coffee production, projects that empower coffee producers and womxn in coffee production whose work often goes unnoticed. I hope to continue to promote greater equity for all members of the coffee communities through my involvement in the industry.

Karla María Boza Carbonell

Marketing, Innovation, and Business Relations; Finca San Antonio Amatepec, El Salvador

I’m a young specialty coffee producer at Finca San Antonio Amatepec in El Salvador, currently pursuing an M.S. Geography degree at Virginia Tech. I use research to merge my passions for coffee, feminism, and transparency in the coffee industry. I’m actively promoting the importance of transparency and diversity across our field through talks, articles, and interviews.

I’m a Board Member of the Denomination of Origin (DO) Bálsamo Quezaltepec and a member of the El Salvador chapter for the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA). Through our DO we protect our mountain range’s coffee, as well as promote its unique attributes. We also support coffee farmers of all scales.

When I’m not around coffee, I enjoy sharing my love for food and pictures of my dogs on social media. I know more about food culture than I know how to cook, but that doesn’t stop me. I hold a B.A. in Sociology and International Studies from Manhattanville College.

Emi-Beth Quantson

CEO & Founder, Kawa Moka Limited, Ghana

Emi-Beth Quantson graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Cum Laude) in Business Administration from Ashesi University. While at Ashesi, she started a campus coffee shop that became a popular hangout for students. After graduation, Emi-Beth ran the cafe successfully for two years while working full-time with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and obtaining her Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) qualification. In six years at PwC, Emi-Beth rose rapidly up the corporate ladder in Ghana and Kenya.

In 2015, she made the bold decision to delve into the world of coffee and entrepreneurship by founding Kawa Moka. Kawa Moka is a social enterprise coffee company founded on a rebellious idea: to create a string of sustainable socially conscious coffee shops across Africa and to put Ghana coffee on the map by working with coffee farmers to produce high-quality Arabusta green coffee beans for export and roasting locally. Her work gives smallholder farmers in Ghana access to a global market and empowers impoverished abused women, high school leavers and women in the legal aid system through training and employment. Emi-Beth is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a winner in the Ghana Presidential Pitch 2018 and a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur.

MJ Engel

Teaching Fellow, Phillips Academy Andover, United States

Since pouring my first latte as a college barista, my fascination with coffee has led me to participate in many links of the trade in several pockets around the globe. I graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Sustainable Development and Women and Gender Studies. My senior thesis focused on the social implications of climate change on a coffee trade circuit between New York City and Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I continued to pursue that research as a Fulbright student researcher in China where I lived and worked on Mangzhang Coffee Farm in Menglian, Yunnan, China and studied the gendered dynamics of the seasonal migrant labor system. To date, I have picked coffee cherries, dragged 60kg bags of green bags across factory floors, interned at a specialty coffee importer, and produced a documentary about the burgeoning coffee industry in Yunnan, China.

I love coffee for its gathering effect and radical potentials. I am deeply interested in alternative models of trade that seek to build transformative, cooperative, and just trade relationships. When not scheming with coffee people, I teach English at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA and organize for migrant, racial, and gender justice.

Amara Sao

Founder and Coffee Roaster, Homecoming Coffee Company, Cambodia

Hi, my name is Amara. I was born and raised in Long Beach, California. For the last three years now I have been living in Cambodia, the country my parents were forced to leave before I was born. I initiated this weird kind of half-homecoming intending to bring my love of delicious, well-roasted, and thoughtfully-sourced coffee to Cambodia’s capital. Phnom Penh is a vibrant and exceptionally young city, with more than two million people, lots of cafes, and not so much specialty coffee.

Before Cambodia, I lived in London for five years, working at Monmouth Coffee Company for much of that time. It was there – and in the year-and-a-half I spent at Bows x Arrows Coffee Roasters in Victoria, Canada – that I learned virtually everything I know about coffee. I also have an academic history linked to sustainability, supply chain, and community. I have a BA in Environmental and Human Geography for California State University, Long Beach and earned my MA in Anthropology of Food from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. For me, coffee has always been an apt starting point for opening up conversations about the world and the impact we can have on it.