Ann M. Veneman has a distinguished career in public service, serving as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010 and as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005.
Veneman’s leadership and vision has been recognized both nationally and internationally. In 2009 she was named to the Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including in 2016 the Women Making History Award from the National Women’s History Museum.
The only woman to ever serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Veneman directed one of most diverse federal agencies with a budget of $113 billion and 110,000 employees. She also 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. From 1986 to 1993, she served in various positions in the USDA, including Deputy Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, and Associate Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.
Veneman currently serves on the board of directors for Nestlé S.A. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission. She is a frequent speaker on a range of topics including poverty alleviation, empowering women and girls, food security and nutrition, and global health.
Throughout her career Veneman has served on a number of advisory councils, committees and non-profit boards, particularly those involving higher education. Currently she is on the boards of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, the Clinton Health Access Intitiative (CHAI) and Just Capital and she is a member of the Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Prize Jury. She has also a worked with the Bipartisan Policy Center on nutrition and political reform issues and with the Chicago Council on agricultural development. She serves on the advisory boards of BRAC, the National 4-H Council, Resolution Project, The FEED Project, Pencils of Promise, Terra Vesco, the Close Up Foundation, the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, Living Goods, Runa, Perfect Day, Ukko and Full Harvest. She also served as a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.
A lawyer by training, Veneman has practiced law in both California and in Washington DC. Veneman holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley; and a juris doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from several universities and colleges.