The third annual Rural Child Hunger Summit started with a keynote address by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was recently confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture for the Biden Administration, a role he previously held in the Obama Administration. In this address, we’ll learn more about the Biden administration’s priorities for USDA and Child Nutrition Programs.
Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Chair, Share Our Strength
Billy Shore is the founder and executive chair of Share Our Strength, the parent organization for the No Kid Hungry campaign. Since founding Share Our Strength in 1984 with his sister Debbie, Billy has led the organization in raising more than $700 million to fight hunger and poverty and has won the support of national leaders in business, government, health, education, sports and entertainment.
Billy is also the chair of Community Wealth Partners, Share Our Strength’s for-profit consulting firm which provides strategic consulting to help leaders and communities solve social problems.
Before founding Share Our Strength, Billy served on the senatorial and presidential campaign staff for former U.S. Senator Gary Hart and as chief of staff to former U.S. Senator Robert Kerrey. In 2014, congressional leaders appointed him to the National Commission on Hunger, tasked with finding innovative ways to end hunger in America.
In addition to his work with Share Our Strength, Billy is a leading voice in the national conversation on hunger and poverty. He is the author of four books focused on social change and hosts Add Passion and Stir, a weekly podcast that brings together high-profile chefs and change-makers to talk about the central role food plays in social justice.
A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., Billy earned a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture
Thomas J. Vilsack was confirmed as the 32nd United States Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021 by the U.S. Senate. He was nominated by President Joe Biden to return to a role where he served for eight years under President Barack Obama.
As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the 30th Secretary of Agriculture between 2009-2017, Vilsack worked hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for innovation in rural America. He fought to put Americans back to work by investing in rural infrastructure, renewable energy and large-scale conservation partnerships. Under his leadership, USDA supported America’s farmers, ranchers and growers who drove the rural economy forward, set records for U.S. agricultural exports, provided food assistance to millions of Americans, and helped provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people. USDA introduced healthier food choices in school meals to benefit 50 million children during Vilsack’s tenure and expanded free and reduced-price lunches for millions of kids.
Vilsack was the longest-serving member of President Obama’s original Cabinet. Prior to his appointment, he served two terms as the Governor of Iowa, served in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and his law degree from Albany Law School in New York.
Prior to returning to USDA, he served as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) from 2017 until February 2021. There, he provided strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC’s global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. In addition to his post at USDEC, he also served as a Strategic Advisor to Colorado State University’s food and water initiatives.
A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., Vilsack was born into an orphanage and adopted in 1951. After graduating from law school, Vilsack moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, his wife Christie’s hometown, where he practiced law. The Vilsacks have two adult sons and two daughters-in-law—Doug, married to Janet; and Jess, married to Kate. They have five grandchildren.
Did you know? Billy Shore delivered a keynote address during our inaugural Rural Child Hunger Summit in 2019 in Louisville, KY. Revisit the three important truths he outlined for our work in rural communities.