Ambassador Ertharin Cousin was nominated by President Barack Obama on June 19, 2009 to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. Ms. Cousin was confirmed by the Senate on August 7, 2009 and sworn in as Ambassador on August 17, 2009.
Ms. Cousin has more than twenty-five years of national and international corporate, non-profit, and government leadership experience, and immediately prior to this appointment was President of The Polk Street Group, a national public affairs firm located in Chicago, Illinois.
Ms. Cousin previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Feeding America (then known as America’s Second Harvest), the nation’s largest domestic hunger organization. Among her key achievements during this period was leading the organization’s response to Hurricane Katrina, an effort which resulted in the distribution of more than 62 million pounds of food to those in need across the Gulf Coast region of the United States.
Ms. Cousin also has significant background in the retail food sector, including as Senior Vice President of Albertsons Foods and Vice-President for Government and Community Affairs for Jewel Food stores. While working for Albertsons, she also served as President and Chair of the company’s corporate foundation, managing the organization’s philanthropic activities.
Ms. Cousin worked for 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. In 1997 she received a White House appointment to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development.
Ms. Cousin is a native of Chicago and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Georgia School of Law.