President and CEO Asia Society; UN Special Envoy for Haiti
Ambassador Josette Sheeran is a global leader with several decades of experience in managing and transforming
global and multilateral organizations to be more impactful, transparent and relevant, and leading global level reforms and
innovative, collaborative partnerships to ensure effective and sustainable action.
Ambassador Sheeran serves as the seventh President and CEO of Asia Society, a Rockefeller institution founded after
World War II, and building an impactful and globally diverse board and leading 14 centers in the US and around the world.
She is responsible for advancing the organization’s work in policy, public-private partnerships, conflict resolution,
sustainability, economics, track 2 dialogues, women leadership, culture and education, including Asia Society’s
groundbreaking work in convening negotiations between China, Korea and Japan on a common carbon market.
Ms. Sheeran also serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti in a $1-a-year voluntary capacity, representing the
UN Secretary-General in successfully ending deaths and transmissions in a deadly cholera epidemic there that had infected nearly 1 million people. She has launched a high-level dialogue with top business leaders to partner on Haiti’s transformation from an aid-dependent economy and is crafting the first UN “pay for success” development bond, being designed to help secure an end to the transmission of cholera in Haiti.
Ms. Sheeran is former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum. While there, she lead the WFF’s global initiatives on sustainability, environment, water and food security solutions and helped found and advance major public-private initiatives such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $10 billion in private sector investment to tackle hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
Ms. Sheeran serves as a director on numerous boards, including as co-
chair of the Finance and Human Resources Committee, of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), founded with support from Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. AGRA was established to inspire a uniquely African Green Revolution to end hunger and ensure sustainable, inclusive development for the continent’s farmers.
In 2013, Ambassador Sheeran served and taught at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center as a Fisher Fellow. Her course covered leadership in the global commons of water, land, and food and tackling climatic challenges.
In 2007, Ambassador Sheeran was selected by Kofi Annan to lead the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian organization with a staff of more than 17,000 people in more than 90 nations. Sheeran’s influential TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times and has been used in schools to teach children about ending hunger through innovation and partnerships. Under Sheeran’s leadership, WFP enacted more than a dozen ground-breaking, and large-scale financial and structural reforms designed to increase transparency and agility. She pioneered new initiatives such as the African Risk Capacity (ARC), the first disaster insurance model for Africa, and “Purchase for Progress” to ensure food aid is purchased from the world’s poorest farmers in more than a dozen nations and conflict zones. She leads efforts to help African nations fight massive “land grabs” by foreign nations and investors, establishing principles of sustainability, land ownership, and job opportunities for local populations.
Under her leadership, WFP diversified its donor base to more than 100 nations and became the first UN program to include the so-called BRIC countries and the Gulf States among its top 10 donors. She successfully increased private sector partnerships 10-fold to around $100 million a year. She instituted key reforms to reduce dependency on food aid among millions of aid recipients.
Ms. Sheeran chaired the UN High Level Committee on Management for two terms, helping lead more than 40 UN entities in a series of historic interagency reforms, from the adoption of International Public Accounting Standards (IPSAS), to enacting world-class agreements on transparency, ethics, whistle-blowing, financial disclosure and technology.
Prior to this, Ms. Sheeran served from 2001 to 2007 in high-level posts for the United States and was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate twice. She served as Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, and as deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador covering Asia, Africa, environment and health. She oversaw the Department of State’s portfolio on foreign investment, anti- terrorism financing, and the rolling out of “know your customer” norms. During that time, she was appointed coordinator of the Pakistan earthquake response, and developed economic recovery plans for front line areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond. She has served on the boards of OPIC, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation; as well as the lead U.S. representative to APEC and the OECD, and as alternative U.S. representative to the World Bank.
In 2011, Forbes named her the world’s 30th most powerful woman; Foreign Policy listed her among its top 100 global 'Twitterati'. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has been awarded numerous honorary doctorate degrees, including from Michigan State University and the University of Colorado.
Sheeran is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. She was awarded Japan's Nigata International Food Award, Commandeur de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the Government of France, Brazil`s highest civilian award, the Grand Official Order of the ‘Rio Branco,’ and the “Game Changer” award by the Huffington Post.
Ms. Sheeran has served as Managing Director at Starpoint Solutions, a Wall Street integrated technology solutions firm. She earlier served as President and CEO of Empower America, advancing the agenda of to
transform America’s poorest cities and regions under the leadership of Jack Kemp and Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Prior to that she was managing editor of the Washington Times.
Ambassador Sheeran is the mother of three children, and a proud daughter of a heroic World War II paratrooper. She helped research and write her father’s book “No Surrender” documenting his 101st Airborne jump at D-Day, his daring escape from Nazi capture, service behind the lines in occupied France dismantling enemy supply chains, and in the Battle of the Bulge and beyond. She is named after the French Underground leader Josette, who harbored and protected her father as an escaped prisoner of war. Her family was raised with profound connection to the Jersey inland waterway and the habitats and species that populate the marshes and estuaries. An artificial coral reef was established off the coast of New Jersey to help provide new ocean life habitats in honor of her mother after her death.