UN director, Rome resident earns UIC alumni honor
University of Illinois at Chicago alumna Ertharin Cousin was recently honored for her contributions to the institution, Chicago and the world.
Cousin, who is executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, was recognized for her leadership of the world’s largest humanitarian organization and her efforts to meet urgent food needs while championing longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger around the world.
The Rome, Italy, resident was presented with the 2013 University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award at the University of Illinois Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Five dinner and awards ceremony on Oct. 11.
“This year’s honorees reflect all that is great about UIC,” Alumni Association President and CEO Loren R. Taylor told the audience of 250. “Their stories inspire all of us and enhance the proud legacy of the University of Illinois.”
Cousin, who was ranked 49th on Forbes Magazine’s 2013 List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UIC in 1979.
She has more than 25 years of national and international non-profit, government and corporate leadership experience focusing on hunger, food and resilience strategies.
Cousin was named by President Obama in 2009 to the posts of U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and head of the U.S. Mission to U.N. Agencies in Rome, Italy.
She has also held top leadership positions in Feeding America; served as White House liaison to the State Department in the Clinton administration; and headed government communications and community affairs for Albertsons and Jewel Food Stores.
The UI Alumni Association is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization for nearly 700,000 alumni throughout the world who attended the University of Illinois with campuses in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign.
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.