Ertharin Cousin, new World Food Programme executive director. Photo by: Giulio Napolitano / ©FAO

Rumors on the next head of the U.N. World Food Program were true after all: Ertharin Cousin is the new WFP executive director.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva announced Counsin’s appointment on Tuesday (Jan. 17). She will be assuming Josette Sheeran’s position in April when the latter takes on her new role as vice chairman at the World Economic Forum.

Notable personalities such as U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have welcomed Cousin’s new appointment.

In a press statement, Clinton said, “I am confident that she will continue to be a powerful voice in the global fight against hunger and lend her energy, optimism and experience to the World Food Programme.”

Cousin, who currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. agencies for food and agriculture, has extensive work in the food industry. She supported many of USAID’s agricultural projects as member of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development from 1997 to 2001.

In 2002, Cousin joined the board of America’s Second Harvest, now known as Feeding America. She became the organization’s executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2004, and received praise for leading the hunger organization’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in which more than 62 million pounds of food have been distributed to victims across the country’s Gulf Coast region.

Her short stint in the private sector also involved food. While serving in BIFAD, she was vice president for government and community affairs for Jewel Food stores, a supermarket chain in the United States now owned by SuperValu. When Albertsons LLC bought Jewel in 1999, she served as president and chair of the company’s corporate foundation, among other positions.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.