Board of Directors


For the advancement of women

Our board members are proud to live and work in Manitoba and are highly qualified with formal education, training and experience. Using relevant data to drive evidence-based decisions, they work selflessly to improve the ag and food processing industries and the professional lives of the women poised to enhance those industries.

Laura Lazo


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 operation of our organization, developing relationships and engagement within MWAF and with the industry, representing MWAF at external events and stakeholders, promoting our organization in the sector, liaising 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 advocating for agriculture, diversity, inclusion and equality to contribute to the fulfillment of 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


I am an agricultural economist with multiple 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 the 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 and Linguistics from Qingdao Agricultural University. Currently, I work as a research analyst at Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).

I joined the MWAF board to share my passion for advancing 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).

Damla Oz


I have a bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in Economics and over five years of experience in economic analysis and data science. I am a master’s student in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics at the University of Manitoba. During my Ph.D. education, I worked as a research assistant; during my master’s education, I worked as a teaching assistant. Being on the MWAF Board gives me the chance to follow my dream to support women and those in underrepresented groups in the agriculture sector.

MariJo Patino


I am an Economist with 10+ years of research experience for government, academics and industries, primarily in agriculture, food and industrial development in Canada, the United States and Latin America. I graduated with honours from the National University of Asuncion (Paraguay). I received my master’s degree in MSc. in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba (Canada) in 2014. I am fluent in Spanish and English and have advanced French-level language skills. Currently, I am working as a Freelancer Researcher on different projects related to agriculture and technology.

I co-founded MWAF to advocate for women’s inclusion and collaboration in the industry and 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.

Zheting Zhou


I am a data analyst with three years of experience in economic analysis and policy evaluation, mainly in the agriculture and food industry. I am a research assistant and have a masters’s degree in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba. I gained my bachelor’s degree in International Economics and Trade from Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University (ZAFU). My research interests focus on price discovery of agricultural products, the agricultural futures market and international trade.

I enjoy being a volunteer and giving a hand to people in need. So I joined this wonderful MWAF board to help women who want to achieve career success in the agriculture and food sector. Currently, my role in MWAF is as an assistant in a research project collecting and analyzing statistics of women along the supply chain.