Jewel Bronaugh, the first person of color to be deputy agriculture secretary, announced Thursday that she will step down from the position in coming weeks, saying only that her resignation would allow her to spend more time with her family.
Bronaugh was confirmed by the Senate to the post in May 2021 after serving as Virginia’s agriculture director for three years.
One of Bronaugh’s highest profile roles at USDA was in co-chairing the department’s Equity Commission, which Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack created to make recommendations about ways to end racial discrimination and inequities in USDA programs.
She also led trade missions to the United Kingdom and East Africa.
“It is with mixed emotions that today I am announcing that I will step away from my role as Deputy Secretary in the coming weeks so I can spend more time with my family,” Bronaugh said in a statement.
Vilsack issued a separate statement that said Bronaugh's "service, presence and leadership will be sorely missed. She has been an incredible partner over the last two years, and she has been instrumental in helping the department seize opportunity and address a host of challenges."
He said Bronaugh had led the Equity Commission with "passion, energy, and a steady hand" and was also instrumental in "establishing a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office (CDIO) within the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) to institutionalize and sustain USDA’s governance and management of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, while contributing to attracting and retaining a workforce that is proud to represent USDA."
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Bronaugh said the Equity Commission would “leave a lasting imprint for generations to come.” She also said she was proud of the department’s accomplishments on such issues as “advancing equity and opportunity,” promoting the adoption of climate-spart agriculture practices and opening markets through trade missions.
"To the people we serve, it is important that you know USDA’s commitment to becoming an agency that ensures all Americans have equitable access to USDA programs and services is truly sincere. I am the first one to admit the work to build and maintain trust among all we serve is no easy task,” she said.
“However, I have seen first-hand the intentional work being done each day to set USDA on a new and more inclusive path forward, working in close partnership with you and your local communities. We count on you to hold us accountable, and I know the USDA workforce looks forward to continuing to work alongside you for years to come.”
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