January 17, 2012 / 9:14 PM / in 8 years

American Ertharin Cousin to head World Food Program

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The United Nations announced on Monday the appointment of Ertharin Cousin, an American with a varied career in corporate, non-profit and government affairs, as the next head of the Rome-based World Food Program.

Cousin, a stalwart of the U.S. Democratic Party who is now U.S. ambassador to U.N. food agencies in Rome, will succeed Josette Sheeran, also of the United States, who has held the post since 2007.

The appointment followed a U.N. practice whereby jobs as heads of major agencies held by citizens of permanent Security Council members often pass to successors from the same country. It was announced by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Food and Agriculture Organization chief Jose Graziano da Silva.

Sheeran is joining the World Economic Forum in Geneva as vice president when her WFP term expires in April.

The WFP is the primary U.N. agency for hunger relief and says that each year, on average, it feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

Trained as a lawyer, Chicago-born Cousin has worked in the retail food sector and served as an executive of Feeding America, the largest U.S. domestic hunger organization. She led that organization’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

During the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, she worked as deputy chief of staff for the Democratic National Committee and later White House liaison at the State Department.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement on Tuesday that the United Nations “will be well served by Ambassador Cousin’s experience and commitment to the World Food Program’s vision of a world in which every citizen has access to the food they need to survive and to thrive.”

Reporting By Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Philip Barbara

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