Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University, Senior Global Futures Scientist, and the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, with appointments in the School of Sustainability and Morrison School of Agribusiness. Concurrently, she is Venture Partner at Astanor, a Belgium-based venture capital investing in agtech solutions. Merrigan came to ASU after four years as a Professor and Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University.
From 2009-2013, Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a $150 billion, 110,000 employee institution. 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 was a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University where she directed the M.S./PhD Agriculture, Food and Environment Program. Her prior career includes a variety of agriculture policy positions, including 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.