National Louis University is thrilled to welcome two distinguished speakers at Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 15, 2019.
U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, who was elected to Congress last November, will speak at the 10 a.m. Commencement ceremony, which will celebrate students receiving graduate degrees.
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin will speak at the 2 p.m. Commencement ceremony for undergraduates.
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Underwood serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She also serves on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Rep. Underwood is a member of the Future Forum, a group of young Democratic Members of Congress committed to listening to and standing up for the next generation of Americans; the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the LGBT Equality Caucus. As a strong supporter of addressing the gun violence epidemic, Congresswoman Underwood is a member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce.
Prior to her election to Congress, Congresswoman Underwood worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act — broadening access for those on Medicare, improving healthcare quality, and reforming private insurance. Congresswoman Underwood also taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program. Congresswoman Underwood is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University. She graduated from Neuqua Valley High School and is a lifelong Girl Scout. She resides in Naperville, Illinois. (Official biography)
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin
Ertharin Cousin is the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and a Distinguished Fellow in FSI’s Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). Cousin was chosen as the Payne Distinguished Lecturer for her international reputation as a leader, with an emphasis on visionary thinking, practical problem solving and the capacity to articulate clearly an important perspective on the global political and social situations.
Cousin also serves the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as a Distinguished Global Fellow. Cousin possesses more than 30 years of national and international non-profit, government and corporate leadership experience.
From 2009 until 2017 Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as the twelfth Executive Director (ED). As WFP ED Cousin guided the world’s largest humanitarian organization with 14,000 staff serving 80 million beneficiaries in 75 countries meeting urgent food needs while serving as a global advocate for longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger. Cousin maintains relationships with global government, business and community leaders. She has published numerous articles regarding agricultural development, food security and nutrition.
In 2009, Cousin was nominated by then-President Obama as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. In this role, Cousin served as the U.S. Representative for all food, agriculture and nutrition-related issues. Cousin regularly represented U.S. interests in global leader discussions regarding humanitarian and development activities. Cousin helped identify and catalyze U.S. government investment in food security and nutrition activities supported by the USAID Feed the Future program. Cousin convened foreign media tours resulting in millions of conventional as well as social media impressions, highlighting U.S. program investments delivering results for otherwise vulnerable, hungry people.
Prior to her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the U.S. domestic fight to end hunger while serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of America’s Second Harvest (now called Feeding America). In this role Cousin led the operations, budgeting and expenditures as well as the human resources, IT and training activities of this national confederation of 200 food banks across America serving over 50 million meals per year. In this role, Cousin mobilized an unprecedented fundraising, volunteer mobilization and media campaign in support of the organization’s successful Hurricane Katrina operational response.
Previously, Cousin served as Senior Vice President for Albertson’s Foods. While serving at Albertson she was appointed by the U.S. president to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development where she helped oversee U.S. government agriculture research investments worldwide.
A Chicago native, Cousin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Georgia Law School and the University of Chicago Executive Management Finance for Non-Financial Executives program. Cousin has received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Universities around the globe. She has been listed numerous times on the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women List, as the Fortune Most Powerful Woman in Food and Drink, on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list, and as one of the 500 Most Powerful People on the Planet by Foreign Policy magazine.(Official biography)