2014 Commencement Speaker
President, Bread for the World
World Food Prize laureate David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for hungry and poor people. He
has been president of Bread for the World since 1991, leading large-scale and successful campaigns to strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome hunger and poverty in the country and globally. Beckmann is also president of Bread for the World Institute, which provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. He founded and serves as president of the Alliance to End Hunger, which engages diverse U.S. institutions—Muslim and Jewish groups, corporations, unions, and universities—in building the political will to end hunger.
Under his leadership, Bread for the World has garnered an impressive record of achievements. Due in part to the persistent, bipartisan advocacy of Bread members, the U.S. government has tripled funding for effective programs to help developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Bread has also helped double funding for U.S. nutrition programs, assisting millions of families in the United States who struggle to feed their children. During the budget controversy that started in 2010, Bread for the World has worked with other faith groups to maintain a circle of protection around programs focused on hungry and poor people in the U.S. and worldwide. Although Congress and the President have cut $2.5 trillion from deficits, federal programs focused on hungry and poor people have so far been spared from large cuts.
Currently Beckmann is co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. He has served as a board member of InterAction, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, the ONE Campaign, the National Anti-Hunger Organizations, and the U.N. Millennium Hunger Task Force.
Beckmann has been asked to testify in Congress numerous times, appearing before such committees as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives.
Beckmann has appeared on Bill Moyer’s Journal, PBS’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, CNN Español, and C-Span, and in radio interviews with NPR’s Morning Edition, and The Diane Rehm Show. He has written many books and articles, including Transforming the Politics of Hunger and Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World. His latest book is Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger.
Prior to joining Bread, Beckmann worked at the World Bank for 15 years, overseeing large development projects and driving innovations to make the bank more effective in reducing poverty.
Beckmann earned degrees from Yale University, Christ Seminary, and the London School of Economics. He is a Lutheran pastor as well as an economist. Beckmann has lived in Bangladesh and Ghana, overseen projects in Bolivia and Ecuador, and visited more than 70 countries. He speaks Spanish.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Bread for the World members meet with and write personal letters and emails to their members of Congress. It is one of the largest organizations in the world dedicated to building the political will to end hunger.