ROME — Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Representative to the United Nations agencies for Food and Agriculture, has been named executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (W.F.P.). Ms. Cousin will assume the post at the head of the world’s largest humanitarian agency later this year.

“Leading W.F.P. is a great honor and a critical link to the world’s most vulnerable,” said Josette Sheeran, W.F.P.’s current executive director. “I offer every support to Ertharin Cousin and wish her the greatest success at this critical time for the world’s most vulnerable nations and people.”

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack added, “Ambassador Cousin is uniquely qualified to assume this prominent position. She has served as the U.S. Representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome for more than two years, helping to carry out President Obama’s global food security policy and other matters related to the production of food and agriculture. We greatly appreciate Ambassador Cousin’s support in fulfilling the United States strategic objectives with F.A.O. We know she will bring the same level of dedication to her new role.

“The W.F.P. is an important organization to the United States and a significant partner of U.S.D.A. in fighting hunger around the world. In fact, W.F.P. is the single largest implementer of U.S.D.A.’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program and U.S.D.A.’s Local and Regional Pilot Procurement Program. For instance, in Bangladesh, 350,000 children in more than 1,800 schools are being fed by W.F.P. with help from the McGovern-Dole Program.

“Having worked closely with Ambassador Cousin on significant global issues over the past few years, I am confident the W.F.P. will thrive under her leadership. I wish her all the best.”

Prior to her role as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Cousin worked in a variety of public and private sector positions, specializing in the food industry and related charities from the late 1990s on.
She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1979 and a J.D. degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1982. At the latter, she studied international law under former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Ms. Cousin is expected to assume her new role as executive director of the W.F.P. when Ms. Sheeran’s term ends in April. Earlier this month, Ms. Sheeran announced she will move to the World Economic Forum in Geneva where she will be the new vice-chairman at the world’s leading platform for engaging corporate and government leaders in solutions to global social, economic and humanitarian challenges.