Honorary Degree Recipient
Doctor of Laws
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, May 19, 2011
Ertharin Cousin is a native of Chicago. She earned her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her J.D. from the University of Georgia College of Law in Athens, Georgia. In 2009, she was nominated by President Obama, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture on August 17th. She represents the United States in working to advance the United Nations global efforts in the area of emergency food aid, sustainable agricultural development, food safety, and financing for small rural agricultural projects. She leads three United Nations agencies for food and agriculture: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme. Two examples of her outstanding leadership include massive food relief efforts she directed following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to becoming Ambassador, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in Illinois, as the Regional Office Director for the Attorney General's Office, as Deputy Director of the Chicago Ethics Board, and as Director of Government Affairs for AT&T. Later, she served as White House liaison at the State Department and as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State. During her service as White House liaison, she was awarded the Meritorious Service Award. In 1997, she was appointed for a four-year term to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and at the same time managed the external relations and philanthropic activities of the national food and drug retailer, Albertsons LLC. In 2002, she became CEO of America's Second Harvest and led the organization's response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Soon thereafter, she founded the national public affairs consulting firm, The Polk Group.
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.