Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Rebecca Tong

Development Officer

Rebecca Tong hails from Wichita, Kansas. She graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University where she studied Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in development studies. She has been doing fundraising and nonprofit development work since graduating college because she enjoys connecting people with organizations and causes that they are passionate about. She says, “We are all capable of making lasting change and one incredibly meaningful way to move our causes and passions forward is by contributing money. I am excited to join this team during such a critical time. Now that perennial grain crops have been proven possible, it is time to accelerate the work and that requires more funding so we can do more research and develop more perennial crops.


What drew you to work at TLI?
What I appreciate about TLI is that this is not a quick-fix band-aid solution. It is a real long-term solution with far reaching benefits and ramifications for our planet. This is the kind of leadership and bold solutions our world requires right now, more than ever.

What TLI perennial crop do you look forward to eating most, and how would you prepare it?
Perennial rice. I want to try it in a bunch of ways though: plain white rice, risotto, rice porridge, fried rice, sticky rice wrapped in a bamboo leaf, paella, jambalaya, arroz con pollo, etc.

What’s one aspect of your life history that most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?
I secretly love going door-to-door for charities and causes. When I lived in Colorado and Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to work on a voter registration campaign to register more people of color to vote. It was incredibly rewarding to help people fill out the forms, answer their questions about the process, and help them get to the polls on election day.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?
I get to hand-write some of the thank-you notes, and I hope that they are fairly legible.

What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?
I love a good cup of coffee. With all the traveling I do for work, sometimes that means packing my travel pour-over coffee kit and bringing fresh coffee beans along.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
It would be a book of graphs and infographics. I just love the visual representation of data and how effective it can be at telling a story or revealing hidden truths. It will of course include my favorite infographic, Charles Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth – Shirley Chisholm

What were you like at age 10?
I reached my full height at that age and never got any taller. My favorite piece of clothing was overalls.

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