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Tom Vilsack, CEO and President of the US Dairy Export Council, former Iowa Governor and US Secretary of Agriculture, will be joining Denver Water and the Colorado State University System as a Strategic Adviser of Food & Water Initiatives at the National Western Center and as Global Chair for the International Board of Counselors on Food & Water Initiatives.
Christie Vilsack, longtime education and literacy champion and former senior advisor for international education at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will also join the Colorado State University System as Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Educational Access and Presidential Visiting Scholar of Educational Access.
“The challenges that are facing our globe will need all of our best efforts and all of our best thoughts to identify sustainable solutions,” Colorado State President Tony Frank said. “We are excited to add these two incredibly qualified national leaders to our team and to continue to elevate the conversation, and collaborate to create great impact for our state, our country, and our world.”
Christie Vilsack is a national leader in education and literacy, with a breadth of experience working on behalf of diverse populations. She has taught at every level of K-12, at the college level, and also led a statewide literacy effort as Iowa’s First Lady. Before working for USAID, Christie Vilsack ran a women’s health research initiative – funded by the Buffett Foundation – to reduce unintended pregnancies for women living in rural communities, allowing many to pursue higher education as a result.
Tom Vilsack will support the growing educational partnerships at the new National Western Center in Denver. In addition, Tom Vilsack will participate in lectures, policy discussions, and faculty and student collaborations; as well as establish an annual meeting at the National Western Center focused on the interface of agriculture and water with integration to climate smart agriculture initiatives.
"With strengths in agriculture, water and innovation, Denver and Colorado are poised to play a critical role in the global challenges we face today, such as how to make the best use of our water and how to feed a growing population," Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. "The National Western Center will be a launching point for tackling these critical issues facing communities worldwide, and Tom and Christie Vilsack, as national leaders, will bring notable leadership and expertise to the pressing matters we’re seeking to make progress on."
Tom Vilsack agreed.
“Agriculture holds the key to finding solutions to the world’s largest problems,” Tom Vilsack said. “I’m excited to represent the expertise and research capabilities of Colorado State University, and pull together partners from around the world to participate in the vision of the new National Western Center, and to create global impact.”
Tom Vilsack will be responsible for forming and chairing the Board of Counselors to advise CSU, Denver Water, and the National Western Stock Show on priorities around the interface of food, water, energy, the environment, and human health. He will also help formulate the vision of the new joint CSU-Denver Water facility at the National Western.
“Denver Water is excited to have Tom Vilsack as part of our working team. His insight, experience, and capacity will be integral to our innovations around local and global water issues,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead.
Both roles with CSU are part-time appointments.
About Christie Vilsack
Christie Vilsack served the U.S. Agency for International Development as the Senior Advisor for International Education from 2013-2016. In that position, Christie supported USAID’s Education Strategy goals to improve children’s reading skills, strengthen youth workforce skills, and provide equitable access to education in crisis and conflict settings especially for girls. Christie has committed her life to education and public service.
About Tom Vilsack
Vilsack is currently serving as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. His career has included a tenure as mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa; state legislator; two-term Iowa governor; and eight years as the 30th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. During his tenure as Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack built a reputation for effective, bipartisan leadership, with a strong focus on alleviating poverty, building rural investment and infrastructure, and creating opportunity in rural and tribal communities as well as for women in agriculture.