January 17, 2012
Ertharin Cousin has been named executive director of the World Food Program, an under secretary-general level position at the United Nations.
She succeeds Josette Sheeran, who ran the program for five years.
Cousin is the U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, working in the global fight to end hunger and malnutrition and for the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those dealing with food security and environmental sustainability.
She has more than 25 years of national and international corporate, nonprofit and government leadership experience, including as president of The Polk Street Group, a national public affairs firm in Illinois. There, she led several projects related to strategic partnership development, external communications and philanthropy. She also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Feeding America, leading the nation's largest domestic hunger organization's response to Hurricane Katrina.
Cousin also served as senior vice president of Albertsons Foods, heading its philanthropic arm, and vice president for government and community affairs for Jewel Food stores.
She also spent four years in the Clinton Administration for four years, including as deputy chief of staff for the Democratic National Committee and White House Liaison at the State Department.
Early in her career, she worked in the Illinois attorney general's office, was deputy director of Chicago's Board of Ethics and was a trial attorney.
Cousin has degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Georgia School of Law.