Ann M. Veneman has a distinguished career in public service, most recently serving as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010. Veneman’s leadership and vision has been recognized both nationally and internationally. In 2009 she was named to the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list, ranking 46th and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
At UNICEF Veneman directed a staff of over 11,000 in more than 150 countries around the world. She worked to support child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all, access to clean water and sanitation and the protection of children and women from violence, exploitation and HIV/AIDS. She traveled to more than seventy countries to review the plight of children, to witness the devastation caused by natural disaster, conflict, disease and exploitation, and to advance programs aimed at improving and saving lives.
From 2001 to 2005 Veneman was Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of most diverse federal agencies with an annual budget of $113 billion and 110,000 employees. From 1986 to 1993, she served in various positions in the USDA, including Deputy Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, and Associate Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. At USDA, Veneman advanced an expanded trade agenda, food protection, progressive farm policy, responsible forest policy, and stronger nutrition programs. Veneman served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1995 to 1999, overseeing the state agency responsible for nation’s largest agricultural producing state.
Veneman is a member of the board of Alexion, a global biopharmaceutical company that combines groundbreaking science with a steadfast commitment to meeting the needs of patients living with severe, life-threatening and often ultra-rare diseases. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission and has participated annually at The World Economic Forum in Davos and the Clinton Global Initiative Forum.
Throughout her career Veneman has served on a number of advisory councils, committees and non-profit boards, particularly those involving higher education. Currently she is co-chair of Mothers Day Every Day and on the boards of the Close Up Foundation and Malaria No More. She is a frequent speaker on a range of topics including poverty alleviation, empowering women and girls, food security and nutrition, and global health.
A lawyer by training, Veneman has practiced law in both California and in Washington DC. Early in her career, she was a deputy public defender. Veneman holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley; and a juris doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from several universities and colleges.