Cindy McCain has been named the next executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, giving her the reins of the world’s largest humanitarian organization as millions of people are pushed into hunger from climate-related disasters and the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

McCain has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to three U.N. food and agriculture agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and WFP.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was "confident that she will bring renewed energy, optimism, and success to the World Food Program."

The WFP director is traditionally a selection of the U.S. president, reflecting the fact that America is WFP's biggest donor; the UN secretary general formally appoints the director. 

The wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has been involved in humanitarian work for most of her career, but this role marks one of her first in food policy. 

“Cindy McCain will be a tremendous champion for people facing hunger. Her political acumen and tenacious advocacy will be essential in guiding us toward a Zero Hunger future,” said Barron Segar, president and CEO of World Food Program USA. “We look forward to working with her to rally American leaders and donors to join our anti-hunger movement.”  

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She also has chaired the board of trustees at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

She succeeds David Beasley, who will have served six years at the helm when his term ends on April 4. 

Beasley was appointed to lead the WFP in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump. During his tenure, WFP funding nearly doubled, growing from $5.6 billion in 2016 to $10.6 billion this year, while U.S. contributions have nearly tripled, to $5.9 billion

Due to his fundraising success and the support he gained globally for his work to end hunger, President Joe Biden gave in to bipartisan congressional pressure last March and asked Beasley to stay on for another year.

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