Ertharin Cousin, a diplomat and leading advocate for ending global hunger, was born on May 12, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois to Anne Cousin, who worked in social services, and her husband Julius Cousin, who was a property owner and community development activist.
Cousin grew up on the West Side of Chicago. She received her B.A. (1979) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Juris Doctorate (1982) from the University of Georgia Law School, focusing on international law, and studying under former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
Upon completion of her law degree, Cousin returned to Chicago, where from 1983 to 1993 she held several positions including Assistant Attorney General and Western Regional Office Director for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office; Deputy Director at the Chicago Board of Ethics; and Director of Government Affairs for AT & T.
In 1993 Cousin became Deputy Chief of Staff for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the following year joined the Clinton Administration as White House Liaison at the State Department (1994-1996). She returned to Illinois to run the state Clinton-Gore Re-Election Campaign (1996). In 1997 President Clinton appointed Cousin to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, which advises the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on agriculture issues pertinent to food insecurity in developing countries. She served in that capacity until 2000.
Simultaneously, Cousin worked in the private retail food sector serving as Vice President for Government and Community Affairs for Jewel Food Stores (1997-1999) and held the same position when the company was acquired by Albertson Foods in 1999. In 2001 she was promoted to Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Albertsons, serving until 2004. During this time, Cousin also served as the President of the company’s corporate foundation, responsible for its philanthropic activities which included feeding the poor and hungry.
In 2004 Cousin joined the nation’s largest domestic-based