Dr. Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GWU Sustainability Collaborative and GWU Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. Merrigan serves on the Boards of Directors for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and for Food Corps, is a member of the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund Advisory Committee, serves as Senior Advisor at the Kendall Foundation, and is a member of the steering committee for the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment.
From 2009-2013, Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As Deputy Secretary, Merrigan created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to support local food systems; was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign; and made history as the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Before joining the USDA, Merrigan held a variety of agriculture policy positions, including faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and senior staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food.
Merrigan holds a Ph.D. in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a B.A. from Williams College. Time Magazine named Dr. Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010.