It is time for all of us to find ways to raise indigenous voices and confront issues of food sovereignty, says Kathleen Merrigan, ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems
Kathleen Merrigan is the inaugural Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU and the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, with appointments in the School of Sustainability, College of Health Solutions, and School of Public Affairs. She came to ASU after four years as Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she led the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and was Professor of Public Policy, with appointments in the schools of public policy and public health.
From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a US$150 billion, 110,000 employee institution. As Deputy Secretary, Dr. Merrigan created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems; was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, and made history as the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Before joining the USDA, Dr. Merrigan was a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University where she directed the MS/PhD Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.
Currently, Dr. Merrigan serves as Co-Chair for AGree, Board Director for the World Agroforestry Centre, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, FoodCorps, and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) as well as Steering Committee member for the U.N. Environment Programme-led initiative TEEB AgriFood. Dr. Merrigan is a partner in Astanor Ventures and an advisor to S2G Ventures, two firms investing in ag-tech innovations.
Recognizing the history and scope of her work, Time Magazine named Dr. Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010.