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2017 DSS Recipient: Ertharin Cousin

Ertharin Cousin (J.D. '82)

Ertharin Cousin began her tenure as the 12th Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme in April 2012. Cousin brings more than 25 years of national and international nonprofit, government and corporate leadership experience focusing on hunger, food and resilience strategies. Cousin guides the World Food Programme in meeting urgent food needs while championing longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger.

As the leader of the world’s largest humanitarian organization with approximately 12,000 staff serving over 80 million people in 80 countries across the world, she is a leading advocate for improving the lives of hungry people worldwide and travels extensively to elevate solutions for food insecurity and chronic malnutrition.

Cousin was one of 300 in the first freshman class of girls at Lane Technical High School in 1971. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Cousin ranked 48th on Forbes magazine’s 2016 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.  She was acknowledged as one of the 2014 TIME Most Influential People.  Cousin was also honored with the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award in 2013.