Stories / Awards, Impact

The Future of Food

Leadership Award winner Kathleen Merrigan Moves to ASU

JBF Editors

October 12, 2018


Earlier this week, James Beard Leadership Award winner and former deputy secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan held the first meeting of her "Future of Food Series" at the  Washington campus of her new employer, Arizona State University (ASU), the Hagstrom Report detailed.

In her opening remarks, Merrigan argued that real change in food and agricultural policy is happening outside of government, spurred by "entrepreneurs, corporations, and community activists" in the private sector. She pointed to shifts in demographics, explaining that while American agriculture has traditionally "been dominated by white males," the influx of a generational swell of young people, including many who are minorities or women, indicates that “the diversity battle is about to be won.”

Merrigan, who is assuming the roles of executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems and the Kelly and Brian Swette professor of sustainable food systems at ASU, will launch a new master of science degree in sustainable food systems, as well as a leadership training program.

The former deputy secretary was honored with a James Beard Foundation Leadership award in 2012 for her extensive career advocating for sustainable agriculture. Before her time at the USDA, she authored the 1990 law that defined the standards for organically grown foods in the U.S., and after her 2009 appointment by President Obama to her role under secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack, Merrigan helped to launch the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Learn more about her lifelong commitment to advocacy.

Learn more about the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards.