Catching Up with Catherine Bertini

This week we’re catching up with our 2011 Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner. Catherine Bertini is a distinguished leader who has communicated the importance of agriculture and science through the many humanitarian programs she has organized in the United States and throughout the world.

When asked what her interests growing up were, Bertini responded by saying, “My mother was a nurse, so I decided I wanted to be a nurse, until I fainted when I saw my brother with a small wound. I seemed to have a talent for playing the clarinet, so next I decided that I wanted to teach high school music. I took advanced lessons in clarinet as well as lessons on piano, drums, violin, flute, and saxophone–as well as classes in orchestration, conducting, and arranging. Then I learned about careers in government. By the time I graduated from high school, I wrote my career goal, listed under my photo, to be: government service.”

Bertini considers herself to be more of a practitioner than a researcher, but she has used research about women and girls in order to help open opportunities for them worldwide. Her best piece of advice is to “have the courage of your convictions.” Bertini says, “I’m thankful to have been able to pursue a career where I could contribute to helping improve people’s lives as they improve their livelihoods and to be an advocate for women and girls.”

After winning the World Food Prize in 2003 for her contributions to food security, Bertini used her $250,000 reward to start the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education. Bertini is now the chair of the board of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Concurrently, she is a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. You can learn more about Bertini and her work by visiting her website.

Catherine Bertini in a World Food Programme truck.

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