While she contributed to the termination of the North Korean famine, the avoidance of famine in the Horn of Africa and the creation of women-run bakeries in Afghanistan in her former position as the U.N.’s World Food Program executive director, Catherine Bertini was appointed last month as undersecretary-general for management of the United Nations. The new post will follow time spent at the Ford School of Public Policy.

Bertini is the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence this semester, in which she has been teaching a graduate course on the creation and implementation of Food Aid Policy. The program aims to bring real-life policymakers to the University in order to demonstrate what can be accomplished in careers in public policy. Due to their experience, the policymaker’s personal knowledge of policy and management also enriches the classroom, said Rebecca Blank, dean of the Ford School.

“We selected Cathy Bertini as the Towsley Policymaker in Residence because of her stellar record of public service – including senior level jobs within the Federal government and within the United Nations,” Blank said.

Bertini has served as the acting assistant secretary for family support administration for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the assistant secretary of agriculture for food and consumer services and most recently as executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, serving the maximum of two five-year terms. The WFP provides emergency, refugee and development food to those in need. As the largest U.N. agency funded by donations, Bertini helped raise a $1.9 billion budget that helped 77 million people.

Bertini said that the University invited her at a perfect time because her term had just ended and she was looking to move back to the U.S. Similarly, her new position conforms to her schedule, and will begin Jan. 1, 2003.

As undersecretary general for management, she will work on implementing Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reform proposal, “Strengthening of the United Nations: An agenda for further change.”

Bertini said that streamlining the budget, personal recruitment, billing management and refurbishing the U.N. headquarters will be among her responsibilities.

“Working through the changes in the personal and budget processes will be rather cumbersome because one must convince a lot of people who represent the government and operate within the bureaucracy,” Bertini said.

Nevertheless, she is looking forward to working with Annan.

“He is a wonderful man of great principle, is thoughtful, and a leader in the world and I am fortunate to work for him,” she said.

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