Michael Joseph Simsik

Michael Joseph Simsik

Michael Joseph Simsik

Professorial Lecturer

Part-time Faculty


Office Phone: (+225) 055-453-1994

Michael Simsik currently works with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) serving as the interim Team Leader for the development of the West Africa Regional Energy Market Program, based at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Michael previously worked as the Resident Country Director of MCC in Burkina Faso, where he led the development of a $450 million energy compact from 2017-2022. In his current and previous roles at the U.S. Embassies in Abidjan and Ouagadougou, Michael also serves(d) as a Diplomatic Attaché.

Michael has 25 years of international development work experience with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, having worked as a Chief-of-Party with nongovernmental organizations on USAID Cooperative Agreements (in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as regionally in Burkina Faso, also covering Benin, Chad, and Mali), and in various roles with the U.S. Peace Corps, including Chief of Operations for Africa, Country Director in Mali, Deputy Director in Madagascar, and Volunteer in Benin.

In addition to his program management and operations experience, Michael’s technical experience includes working as a Rural Development Technical Advisor for the Worldwide Fund for Nature-International (WWF) on an integrated conservation and rural development project in Madagascar, as well as working as a technical trainer (of agriculture and forestry) on ten different Peace Corps pre-service training programs in Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, Togo, and the United States.

Prior to beginning his career in international development, Michael worked as a forester preparing timber harvests for private companies in California. Other work experience includes having directed the Urban Agriculture Program for Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City.

International development, diplomacy, leadership, energy, food security, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, nonformal adult education

University of Massachusetts, Amherst - May 2003
Ed.D. Degree, Education Policy, Research and Administration
Dissertation: “Priorities in Conflict: Livelihood Practices, Environmental Threats, and the Conservation of Biodiversity in Madagascar”
Focus: International, Extension, and Environmental Education

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - December 1992
M.F. Degree, Forestry
Thesis: “Farmer Participation in a Pre-Project Assessment of Receptivity to Agroforestry: A Feasibility Study in the Village of Tanougou, Republic of Benin, West Africa”
Focus: Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Use

University of California, Berkeley - June 1985
B.S. Degree, Forestry

Simsik, M. J., (2012). Lemurs, Landscapes and Livelihoods: The Political Ecology of Biodiversity Conservation in Madagascar, Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany.

Andriamanambina, H. P. & Simsik, M. (2009). “Land Cover Change in Relation to Agricultural Extensification in Southern Madagascar.” The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. Volume 5, Number 4, pp. 285-308.

Simsik, M. J., (2008). “The Political Ecology of Biodiversity Erosion on the Central Highlands of Madagascar,” in Kaufmann, J., (Ed.), Greening the Great Red Island: Madagascar in Nature and Culture. Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA), Pretoria, South Africa.

Simsik, M. J., (2008). “Benin,” “Mali,” “Sierra Leone,” “University of California,” “University of Michigan,” and “World Bank” in The Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

Simsik, M. J., (2007). “Adaptive Management,” “Botswana,” “Dian Fossey,” “League of Conservation Voters,” “Political Ecology,” and the “Sagebrush Rebellion” in The Encyclopedia of Environment and Society. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

West, P.C., Fortwangler, C. L., Agbo, V., Simsik, M., and Sokpon, N. (2003). “The Political Economy of Ecotourism: Pendjari National Park and Ecotourism Concentration in Northern Benin,” in Brechin, S.R., Wilshusen, P.R., Fortwangler, C.L., and West, P.C., (Eds.), Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity with Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY.

Simsik, M. (2003). “Priorities in Conflict: Livelihood Practices, Environmental Threats, and the Conservation of Biodiversity in Madagascar,” Doctoral Dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

Simsik, M. (2002). "The political ecology of biodiversity conservation on the Malagasy Highlands," Geojournal, 58:233-242. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands.