Kathleen Merrigan

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Kathleen Merrigan
Kathleen Merrigan official portrait.jpg
United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
In office
April 8, 2009 – May 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Chuck Conner
Succeeded by Krysta Harden
Personal details
Born (1959-10-06) October 6, 1959 (age 59)
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Williams College
University of Texas, Austin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kathleen Ann Merrigan (born October 6, 1959)[1] was sworn in as the United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture on April 8, 2009.[2] She resigned from this position on March 14, 2013.[3] She was the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2011.[4] She was the former Executive Director of the Sustainability Collaborative at the George Washington University. At GW she also led the GW Food Institute and was a Professor of Public Policy.[5] She was named "100 most influential people in the world" by Time Magazine in 2010.[6]


Merrigan posing with cafeteria nutrition staff while visiting Carl G. Renfroe Middle School in Decatur, Georgia in 2011

She worked at Tufts University as Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

She assisted in writing the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act while a professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), Chairman of the Committee, introduced the Act and ensured it became law as part of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990. Senator Leahy said of Ms. Merrigan, "[her] tireless efforts and patience led to comprehensive legislation that creates a first-ever national organic certification program and revamps important agricultural research programs." [7]

In 1999, she began her career at the USDA by heading the Agricultural Marketing Service. At the USDA Merrigan created, led, and managed the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative. This initiative strengthened USDA programs in order to support local food systems around the country.[8] Merrigan helped develop USDA's organic labeling rules while head of the Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001.[9]


She has a PhD in environmental planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[10] a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a B.A. from Williams College.

Boards and committees[edit]

Merrigan serves on a number of boards and committees including: AGree, the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund Advisory Committee, Board Director for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and FoodCorps, Senior Advisor at the Kendall Foundation, the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme led initiative TEEB for Agriculture & Food.[5]


  1. ^ Hearing to Consider the Nominations of Joe Leonard, Jr., Kathleen A. Merrigan, and James W. Miller to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Hearing Before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, First Session, April 1, 2009. U.S. Government Printing Office. 2010-01-01.
  2. ^ "Congressional Record: 2009 Daily Digest". Archived from the original on 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  3. ^ "Kathleen Merrigan Resigns as U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary - Bloomberg Business". bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  4. ^ "Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Lead U.S. Delegation to 37th FAO Ministerial Conference in Rome | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service". www.fas.usda.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  5. ^ a b "Kathleen Merrigan | Office of the Provost | The George Washington University". provost.gwu.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  6. ^ Barber, Dan (2010-04-29). "The 2010 TIME 100 - TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  7. ^ Congressional Record Vol. 136, No. 104, Friday August 3, 1990
  8. ^ "An Outpouring of Thanks for Outgoing USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan". EWG. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  9. ^ Id.
  10. ^ Merrigan, Kathleen A. - Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy - Tufts University at the Wayback Machine (archive index)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Chuck Conner
United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Krysta Harden