Foundation names innovator in food security collaboration as president

The World Food Prize Foundation, Des Moines, Iowa, announced that Barbara Stinson has been named president of the organization, effective Jan. 4, 2020.

Stinson previously served as a co-founder and senior partner of the Meridian Institute, a renowned non-profit organization that guides collaboration and drives action to address our world’s most complex challenges. She will succeed Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, whose 20-year presidency established the international reputation and secured the legacy of the World Food Prize. Stinson will become the second president of the foundation since Norman Borlaug established it in 1986.

“The board, council of advisors and I are delighted Barbara will join the World Food Prize Foundation as our next president. We look forward to her leading the Foundation’s next era as we continue to advance Borlaug’s mission of increasing agricultural productivity and education globally,” said John Ruan III, chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Based on her impeccable policy credentials, ability to convene diverse groups of people to advance a common purpose, proven business management skills and passion for our purpose, I am confident that Barbara is the right leader to uphold the outstanding reputation of the World Food Prize while expanding the impact of our programs to address pressing global challenges, including nutrition, climate change, water and soil management, gender equity and youth engagement.”

Stinson brings more than 30 years of experience in environmental public policy and business management, focusing the last 10 years on global food security and food safety. She has successfully led collaborations addressing complex challenges, such as tackling food safety in sub-Saharan Africa and addressing the impact of climate change in agricultural productivity.

Her work emphasizes policies and programs that support smallholder farmers, especially women and youth, by bringing institutional support and access to new tools, technologies and data to improve the quantity, quality and availability of food.

“I am excited and honored to lead the World Food Prize Foundation. I am committed to shaping the strategic direction of the Foundation, expanding the reach of its collaborations and programs to continue Dr. Borlaug’s mission to end hunger,” Stinson said. “I look forward to working alongside the Council of Advisors, Laureates, partners and talented team to make a meaningful impact in the lives of smallholder farmers, specifically women and youth. It’s imperative that public and private partners collectively mobilize to address critical global challenges that are impacting the health of our people and planet. Together, I am confident we can make significant progress by 2050.”

According to Louise Fresco, president of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research and member of the foundation’s council of advisors, “Engaging youth around the world is critical to achieving our global food security goals. Barbara brings the policy and management experience necessary to help the Foundation and its partners continue expanding the impact of World Food Prize’s youth programs globally.”

Honorable Tom Vilsack, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and member of the foundation’s board of directors said, “From Washington, D.C. to small family farms around the world, the mission of the World Food Prize continues to drive us forward to once and for all end hunger. I’m eager to begin working closely with Barbara to continue the legacy of Dr. Borlaug and extend its impact and reach as we strive to engage the next generation of farmers, food scientists and innovators.”

During her 22 years at Meridian, Stinson led programs focused on innovative approaches to advancing agricultural development, alternative energy development, ecosystem restoration, climate change, air-quality management, natural resource management and low-level radioactive waste disposal. Notably, Ms. Stinson was responsible for executing more than 40 major collaborative problem-solving projects in these areas, involving thousands of stakeholders from diverse perspectives.

Prior to Meridian, she worked in the science and public policy program for The Keystone Policy Center. She earned a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“The search committee considered dozens of excellent candidates for the position. In Barbara, we found a leader with the ability and passion necessary to achieve our goals,” added Ruan.

Quinn, who announced his retirement in March 2019, will continue to lead the World Food Prize until the end of the year. “I applaud the board’s selection of Barbara as the next president of the World Food Prize,” Quinn said. “I know the foundation will continue to prosper and grow under her leadership.”

The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The prize was founded in 1986 by Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 49 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger.