The World Food Prize Foundation

2019 Borlaug Dialogue Speakers

Hon. Josette Sheeran

President & CEO, Asia Society

Josette Sheeran is the seventh President and CEO of Asia Society. She is responsible for advancing the organization’s global work in the fields of policy, business, education, culture, and art.

Ms. Sheeran also serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti.

Sheeran is former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum. While there, she helped found and advance major public-private initiatives such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $10 billion in private sector investment to end aid dependency and tackle hunger and malnutrition in Africa.

Prior to the World Economic Forum, Sheeran was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. She led the world’s largest humanitarian organization, serving up to 100 million of the world’s most hungry each year. Sheeran’s influential TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times and has been used in schools to teach children about ending hunger through innovation and partnerships. She pioneered new initiatives such as the African Risk Capacity (ARC), the first disaster insurance model for Africa, and “Purchase for Progress” in more than a dozen nations and conflict zones. Under her leadership, WFP diversified its donor base to more than 100 nations and became the first UN program to include the so-called BRIC countries and the Gulf States among its top 10 donors. She successfully increased private sector partnerships to 10-fold around $100 million a year. She instituted key reforms to reduce dependency on food aid among millions of recipients.

Prior to this, Ms. Sheeran served as a diplomat and negotiator for the United States, including as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, and deputy U.S. Trade Representative, handling Asia, Africa, Labor, Environment, Intellectual Property and trade capacity building portfolios.

She was awarded Japan’s Nigata International Food Award; Commandeur de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the Government of France; Brazil’s highest civilian award, the Grand Official Order of the ‘Rio Branco;’ and the “Game Changer” award by the Huffington Post.

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