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Tim Hanstad Co-Founder & Senior Advisor

Why I am passionate about Landesa’s mission:

From food security to climate change, from women’s economic empowerment to poverty, and from investment climates to societal conflict, the greatest challenges facing the world today intersect directly with land rights. Through Landesa’s partnerships, farmers can improve their harvests and gain a long-term interest in the health of their land, women can inherit property not poverty, and governments can build the soft infrastructure for prosperity and peace.  This is why I’ve dedicated my life to Landesa’s mission.


Tim Hanstad was still a law student when he first joined Roy Prosterman in his mission to strengthen land rights for the rural poor. Hanstad was instrumental in the formal founding of Landesa, then Rural Development Institute, helping it grow from a two-person operation run out of the University of Washington’s Law School to a top human rights NGO with more than 150 staff around the world.

As Landesa’s Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, Hanstad serves as a global ambassador to the organization and helps guide conversations about how global efforts on extreme poverty, gender equality, food security, and environmental stewardship can benefit from incorporating a land rights lens. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Team and contributes to Landesa’s programs by building the capacity of staff in our field offices. He previously served as Landesa’s CEO and President for more than a decade, and during that time elevated both the organization and the issue of land rights tremendously globally.

Hanstad’s international work experience spans more than 18 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America, including more than four years living in India, where he helped launch and grow Landesa’s India program.  He has more than 25 years of experience in non-profit leadership, social entrepreneurship, advocacy, project management, research, training and writing on land rights and international development.

Hanstad is a Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur Awardee, a World Economic Forum Social Entrepreneur, and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Food Security, and Global Washington board of directors. He has authored numerous publications, including One Billion Rising: Land, Law and the Alleviation of Global Poverty (with Roy Prosterman and Robert Mitchell). Hanstad is affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Legal and land policy research
  • Land tenure policy
  • Land rights formalization
  • Forestland tenure
  • Land administration
  • Land management
  • Tenancy and leasing
  • Women’s land rights
  • Inheritance law and practice
  • Family and marital property law
  • Customary law systems
  • Land dispute resolution
  • Expropriation
  • Resettlement law and policy
  • Community land tenure systems
  • Community natural resource management
  • Community mobilization
  • Community-investor-government partnerships
  • Rural development
  • Agricultural development
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Research methods
  •  Monitoring and evaluation
  •  Participatory processes
  • Training and capacity building support
  • Livelihood promotion
  • Policy advocacy and communications
  • Microfinance
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation


  • LL.M., Law of International Sustainable Development, 1994, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Coursework included land law, international development law, and development economics.
  • J.D. (with honors), 1988, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Associate Editor,Washington Law Review. American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Torts.
  • B.A., Political Science and History (magna cum laude), 1985, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.

International  Experience:

  • Albania
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • India (including four years in residence)
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Mongolia
  • The Philippines
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Uganda
  • Vietnam


  • English