Kathleen A. Merrigan, PhD

Kathleen A. Merrigan, PhD

Exec. Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems Arizona State University

Kathleen A. Merrigan, PhD is an expert in food and agriculture policy. Currently she serves as the Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University and the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Practice in Sustainable Food Systems. Previously, Merrigan served as a Professor of Public Policy, Executive Director of Sustainability, and Director of the Food Institute at the George Washington University. She concurrently serves on many domestic (e.g., Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture) and international (e.g. World Agroforestry Centre) boards. From 2009 – 2013, Merrigan was Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Among her many accolades, Time Magazine named Merrigan one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. In the US, Merrigan is best known for writing the law establishing national standards for organic food as well as the law defining sustainable agriculture. Internationally, she is known for her work at the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and she made history as the only woman yet to chair the FAO Ministerial Conference. In addition to advising S2G, Merrigan is on the investment committee of Astanor, a new European-based venture firm. Merrigan holds a PhD in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a BA from Williams College.


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