Global Agriculture

Former U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad to lead World Food Prize Foundation

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27 January 2023, Iowa: The World Food Prize Foundation announces today that former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad will join the organization as its President.

Established by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the World Food Prize is considered the preeminent award for global agriculture and celebrates breakthrough achievements in combating hunger and enhancing food security around the world.

“We are excited to bring on a leader with both global vision and strong roots in agriculture,” said Paul Schickler, chair of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Amb. Branstad, who was serving as Governor of Iowa when John Ruan, Sr., rescued the World Food Prize and moved it to Iowa, has been a champion of our mission from its earliest days.

“He was an especially strong supporter of the World Food Prize Foundation’s Iowa Youth Institute, which encourages high school students across the state to pursue STEM subjects. We greatly look forward to him coming on board,” Schickler said.

Amb. Branstad also was an instrumental member of a bipartisan collaboration of Iowa governors, along with Governors Robert Ray, Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, that resulted in the creation of the Iowa Hunger Summit, which gathers leaders and hunger fighters to confront food insecurity issues across the state.

“On behalf of the Ruan family, I would like to express how extremely pleased we are that Amb. Branstad has accepted this leadership position with the World Food Prize,” said Rachel Ruan McLean, vice chair of the World Food Prize Foundation. My grandfather, John Ruan, Sr., and my father, John Ruan III, both held him in the highest regard for his longstanding public service to Iowa and our country. Amb. Branstad has had an important connection to food and agriculture throughout his entire career, and he is the perfect choice to carry forward the Ruan and Borlaug legacies of building the World Food Prize Foundation.”

Branstad was Iowa’s longest-serving governor and holds the record as the longest-serving governor in the history of the United States. He held the office of Governor of Iowa from 1983 until 1999, and then again from 2011 until 2017, when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China. He is a partner with the Branstad Churchill Group, LLC.

“I am honored to lead an organization bringing together the world’s greatest agricultural scientists and fostering the next generation of innovators,” Amb. Branstad said. “The World Food Prize is known globally for celebrating groundbreaking advances in biosciences, and I am proud to continue to build upon that Borlaug-Ruan legacy.”

The World Food Prize is presented each year in Iowa to an individual for their achievements in improving the quality, quantity, and availability of food in the world. The $250,000 award is presented each October in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol that attracts global leaders and participants. In conjunction with the laureate award presentation, the Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue and related events draw global leaders and key stakeholders for discussions on groundbreaking advances in food and agricultural innovations.

As part of the leadership transition, the World Food Prize Foundation is pleased to also announce the promotion of Senior Vice President Mashal Husain to the position of Chief Operating Officer. Serving as a senior leader for the Foundation for almost 15 years, Husain oversees multiple operating, financial and fundraising roles. Included in her achievements was directing the $30 million restoration of the Des Moines Public Library building and its transformation into the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, fulfilling the vision of the late John Ruan III.

“Mashal’s longstanding relationships with our partners, her fundraising experience and her passionate service to the Foundation and to the Borlaug-Ruan legacy will be invaluable as we move forward,” Schickler said.

Former World Food Prize Foundation President Ambassador Kenneth Quinn will rejoin the organization as a special consultant during the initial transition period. Amb. Quinn, who retired in 2020 after leading the Foundation for two decades, and Husain were instrumental in building the World Food Prize as it came to be known as “the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture.”

“The World Food Prize is in good hands with Amb. Branstad, Amb. Quinn, and COO Husain,” Schickler said. “I am confident that these extraordinary leaders will continue elevating the stature of the Prize and its many programs, while advancing the mission of Dr. Borlaug to improve global food security and farmers’ livelihoods worldwide.”

Branstad was preceded at the World Food Prize Foundation by Barbara Stinson, who served three years as president of the organization before her departure this month.

Stinson is credited with leading the organization and its noted International Borlaug Dialogue and Laureate Award Ceremony through pandemic-related challenges and bolstering World Food Prize Foundation youth programs that give high school students a chance to work around the globe with world-renowned scientists.

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