Kristy Leissle

Co-Founder, Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana, Affiliate Faculty, African Studies, University of Washington

Focus Area: Empowered Communities

Dr. Kristy Leissle is a scholar of cocoa and chocolate, and co-founder of the Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana. Since 2004, her work has investigated the politics, economics, and cultures of these industries, focusing on West African political economy and agriculture, specialty cocoa trades, and the complex meanings produced and consumed through chocolate marketing and advertising. Her book, Cocoa (Cambridge: Polity, 2018) explores cocoa geopolitics and personal politics, and was #3 on Food Tank’s 2018 Fall Reading List. She is the author of the series, “I am a cocoa farmer,” published by ConfectioneryNews, which offers in-depth profiles of people who farm cocoa for a living in Africa.

Dr. Leissle is Affiliate Faculty in African Studies at the University of Washington, and Cultural Specialist for National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions. Among other previous roles, she served as Director of Education for the Northwest Chocolate Festival (2010-2013), and as Research Associate for the development through trade organization Twin & Twin Trading. She was full time faculty at University of Washington Bothell from 2009-2017, where she taught in Global Studies and African Studies, including her pioneering class, Chocolate: A Global Inquiry. Dr. Leissle holds degrees from Oxford University, University of Washington, and Boston College. She lives in Accra.