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Samantha Power, Pulitzer winner and USAID administrator, slated as World Food Prize speaker


Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and head of the US Agency for International Development, is slated to be a keynote speaker at the World Food Prize’s Borlaug Dialogue next month, organizers of the Des Moines event said Monday.

At her $60 billion-a-year, 10,000-employee agency, Power helps guide the Biden administration’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, challenges to democracy and humanitarian crises, including hunger. She was US ambassador to the United Nations from 2013-17 in the Obama administration.

She also is the first USAID administrator to be a National Security Council member, ensuring “that development plays a critical role in America’s responses to a range of economic, humanitarian and geopolitical issues,” the agency says on its website.

USAID said last month it provided the UN’s World Food Program $68 million to purchase 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat after Russia’s invasion cut off shipments.

“Russia’s effective blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports trapped more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain inside the country for months, exacerbating the most severe food crisis the world has seen in decades,” Power said in a statement about the wheat purchase in August.

MORE: Cynthia Rosenzweig wins World Food Prize for work showing climate change’s impact on agriculture

She said 23,000 metric tons of wheat would go to countries in the Horn of Africa, “where a historic drought is pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation.” The UN helped broker an agreement between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey that allowed Ukrainian grain exports to resume from Black Sea ports.

Earlier, however, the agency came under fire for what some congressional leaders, including US Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, both Iowa Republicans, said it was the slowness of its response to a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine itself following the invasion.

Prior to joining the Biden administration, Power was the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School.

She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has been recognized as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People,” among other acknowledgments. Power is an author and editor of multiple books and the recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “A Problem From Hell,” about the US policy response to genocide.

The late Norman Borlaug established the Des Moines-based World Food Prize in 1986. A native Iowan, Borlaug received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his research to create drought-resistant, high-yielding wheat varieties. He is credited as the “father of the Green Revolution” that saved a billion people from hunger.

The Borlaug Dialogue, an annual World Food Prize event, will be held Oct. 18-20. Power is slated as a keynote speaker at 9 am Oct. 19. The event, some of which will be virtual, will be held at the Iowa Events Center.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or 515-284-8457.

This article originally appeared on the Des Moines Register: Samantha Power, Pulitzer winner and USAID leader, joins the Des Moines event



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