Ann M. Veneman, JD, has a distinguished career in public service, most recently serving as the executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010. Her leadership and vision have been recognized both nationally and internationally. In 2009, she was named to the Forbes magazine “100 Most Powerful Women” list (ranking 46th) and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
At UNICEF, Veneman directed a staff of more than 11,000 in more than 150 countries. She worked to support child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children and women from violence, exploitation, and HIV/AIDS. She traveled to more than 70 countries to review the plight of children; to witness the devastation caused by natural disaster, conflict, disease and exploitation; and to advance programs aimed at improving and saving lives.
The first woman to become the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Veneman served in that position from 2001 to 2005. From 1986 to 1993, she had served in various positions in the USDA, including deputy secretary, deputy undersecretary for International Affairs, and associate administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.
At the USDA, Veneman advanced an expanded trade agenda, food protection, progressive farm policy, responsible forest policy, and stronger nutrition programs. She served as secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1995 to 1999, overseeing the state agency responsible for nation’s largest agricultural producing region.
She is a frequent speaker on a range of topics, including poverty, empowering women and girls, food security and nutrition, and global health. Ann M. Veneman currently serves on the boards of directors for Alexion and Nestlé.