Dr. Kathleen A. Merrigan

Executive Director of Sustainability and Professor of Public Policy
Room 404F
Address: Old Main
1922 F Street NW
Washington, District Of Columbia
Phone: 202-994-0552
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Food and Agricultural Policy

Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. Merrigan is co-chair of AGree, Board Director of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and Food Corps, and steering committee member of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment. Merrigan was Deputy Secretary and COO of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2009-2013), where she led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems, was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, and was the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Prior to USDA, Merrigan was a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and served on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food.


PhD, Environmental Planning and Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MPA, University of Texas
BA, Williams College


In October 2015, Dr. Merrigan served as corresponding author for "Designing a sustainable diet," published in the journal Science.

Designing a sustainable diet
Kathleen Merrigan, Timothy Griffin, Parke Wilde, Kimberly Robien, Jeanne Goldberg, William Dietz
Abstract: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.aab2031?ijkey=E7jTC7HZzzEpc&keytype=ref&siteid=sci 



Personal Interests

  • family life with two teenagers and her husband, GW law professor Mike Selmi


  • Time Magazine named Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010. 
  • James Beard Foundation Leadership Award, 2012
  • Williams College Bicentennial Medal, 2012
  • Rodale Organic Pioneer Award, 2012
  • Steward of Sustainable Agriculture “Sustie” Award, 2010

Classes Taught

The Sustainable Plate -- to be introduced in Spring 2016