US Agriculture Secretary to be new UNICEF head
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he would nominate United States Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, a veteran manager of complex organizations, to head the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the world's leading body addressing the needs of youngsters.
If approved by UNICEF's Executive Board, Ms. Veneman will succeed another national of the United States, Carol Bellamy, as Executive Director of the 58-year-old organization, whose work ranges from running massive child immunization campaigns to mobilizing urgent aid for youngsters in unexpected emergencies such as the recent devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. More than 7,000 people in 157 countries work for UNICEF.
Ms. Veneman, 55, has extensive experience in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), where she has been Secretary since 2001. According to a biography on the Department's web site, she served as Deputy Secretary, the second-highest position, from 1991 to 1993, and Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programmes from 1989 to 1991. She joined the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in 1986 and served as Associate Administrator until 1989.
From 1995 to 1999, she served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), managing agricultural programs and services for the nation's largest and most diverse agricultural producing state. She has a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in public policy and a doctorate in law.
Ms. Bellamy, 63, a former Director of the US Peace Corps and first woman to be elected President of the New York City Council, is retiring in May from a post that by tradition goes to a US national.
UNICEF was created in 1946 on the principle that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. Ever since it has ranged far and wide over the problems confronting the world's future generations, from the more traditional goals of child protection, education and health and ending discrimination against girls to newly emerging crises such as HIV/AIDS and its harvest of orphans and infected youngsters - and, most recently, its response to the urgent needs of young tsunami survivors.