Type: Public event
Host: Ford School

Why wait for another Afghanistan: The case for increasing U.S. aid

Date & time

Oct 16, 2002, 4:00 pm EDT


Schorling Auditorium School of Education
610 East University Ave.

Catherine Bertini, formerly executive director of the World Food Program, gave this inaugural lecture of the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence.

From the speaker's bio:

Catherine Bertini is the first Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.  She is also currently serving as the Chair of the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition.  In August 2002 she was appointed Personal Humanitarian Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and charged with assessing the humanitarian needs of the people on the West Bank and Gaza and working with the Israeli, Palestinian, UN, donor countries, and non-governmental organization leadership to improve access and services.

    From 1992-2002, Ms. Bertini was Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the largest humanitarian aid agency in the world.  As Executive Director of WFP, Ms. Bertini was responsible for the management of emergency, refugee, and development food aid operations reaching approximately 77 million people in 82 countries.  In addition to providing direct assistance to the hungry, Ms. Bertini worked on WFP advocacy campaigns to end hunger and worked to raise voluntary financial and in-kind contributions from donor nations around the world.  Ms. Bertini also focused on management issues at WFP, introducing state of the art systems for financial management, commodity tracking, communications, and security training.  She more than doubled the percentage of women on the professional staff of WFP and kept administrative overhead costs under 8% of the budget.

    Prior to her work with the World Food Program, Ms. Bertini was Assistant Secretary, Food and Consumer Services, for the United States Department of Agriculture.  She directed thirteen domestic food assistance programs for poor Americans, including Food Stamps, School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.  These programs reach one in six of all Americans and have combined budgets of $33 billion annually.  During her tenure at the Department of Agriculture, Ms. Bertini had responsibility for implementation of the Electronic Benefit Transfer system for Food Stamps and other welfare programs.

    Ms. Bertini has also served in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has worked in state government in Illinois and New York, and worked for ten years for the Container Corporation of America. She was, for twenty-five years, engaged in Republican Party political activities and was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982.  

    Ms. Bertini is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and has received honorary degrees from seven universities in four countries.