|Ertharin Cousin is currently serving as Ambassador to the United Nations for World Hunger and Agriculture Agencies. An attorney with more than twenty-five years of national and international corporate, non-profit and government leadership experience, Cousin is an owner and founder of The Polk Street Group.Prior to founding The Polk Street Group, Ertharin Cousin served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Feeding America (then known as America’s Second Harvest), the nation’s largest domestic hunger organization. As COO, Cousin maintained responsibility for the philanthropy, government affairs, communications, food sourcing and distribution, financial and member services activities of the organization. During her tenure there, Cousin helped increase the organization’s annual revenue from $20 million to $56 million in a three-year period. To meet this mark, she and her team developed several new innovative long-term corporate partnerships and programs. Another important achievement was Cousin’s role in the organization’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Cousin led an unprecedented team effort that developed and implemented a national communication, government affairs, fundraising and food delivery program. This emergency disaster program raised more than $20 million dollars and distributed more than 62 million pounds of food across the Gulf Coast region.
Cousin worked for several years at Albertsons, then the nation’s second largest food retailer. After a series of progressively responsible leadership positions culminating in her appointment as Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs and a member of the Company’s executive leadership team. Reporting to theCEO, Cousin led the company’s external communication and government affairs functions. As President and Chair of the corporate foundation, Cousin managed the organization’s philanthropic planning and implementation activities. She was also the company’s official spokesperson.
Cousin spent four years with the Clinton Administration in a variety of leadership assignments: Deputy Chief of Staff for the DNC, White House Liaison to the State Department, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State during the Atlanta Olympics, Executive Director of Illinois Clinton re-election Campaign Team and Vice-President of Government, Community and Political Affairs for the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Committee. After leaving the administration, Cousin was appointed by the White House and served a four-year term as a Commissioner of the International Food and Agriculture Advisory Committee.
Including the Obama race, Cousin has now worked in six Democratic Presidential campaigns. In addition to her Presidential campaign activities, Cousin’s political experience includes leadership roles in a variety of state and local elections. She also consulted with the National Women’s Political Caucus. Cousin provided communication, message development and political training to women across the country. In her early career, Cousin earned a positive reputation in Illinois for her work as Assistant Attorney General and Western Regionals Office Director for the Illinois Attorney General’s office; Deputy Director of the Chicago Ethics Board; and Director of Governmental Affairs for AT&T.
Over the years, she has served on several community and non-profit boards of directors, including the Executive Leadership Foundation Board; Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest); Operation Hope; the Chicago Black Women Lawyers Association and the Illinois Hate Crimes Commission. Cousin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her law degree from the University of Georgia, where she studied international law under the late Dean Rusk.