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After serving eight years as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack ’75 is set to become president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the organization announced on Tuesday.
Effective Feb. 1, Vilsack will lead USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives, create strategies, and perform as its primary spokesperson and ambassador. The non-profit organization represents the global trade interests of its affiliated members, which include dairy producers, processors, suppliers and traders.
"Growing the global market for U.S. dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America's dairy farmers. I've spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council," Vilsack said in a statement. "I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USDEC as well as agriculture, food industry and key stakeholders at home and abroad to advance the council's mission and strengthen trust in American dairy."
Vilsack was President Barack Obama's longest-serving Cabinet secretary. He resigned Jan. 13 as his tenure as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was coming to an end.
Vilsack will receive the Hon. James P. King ’59 Lifetime Achievement Award at Albany Law School's 2017 Alumni in Government Awards luncheon on April 27. More details, including other award winners, will be announced at a later date.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Vilsack earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1972 and his J.D. from Albany Law School in 1975. Shortly thereafter he moved to practice law in his wife Christie’s hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he was elected mayor in 1987. He was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1992 and six years later was elected governor of Iowa. Vilsack, the state’s first Democratic governor in 30 years, was reelected in 2002. After a run at the presidency, he was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in Jan. 2009.
He was reportedly on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's shortlist for running mate in 2016.
Vilsack visited Albany Law School in Oct. 2007 to meet with students and receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. In May 2014 he delivered the keynote at the law school’s 163rd commencement. Last year, he spoke with a delegation of Albany Law School alumni who were in Washington, D.C., for group admission to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I still get my CLE credits every year; I will keep my license until the day I die,”
Vilsack told Albany Law Magazine in 2010. “This is an incredible life and country for someone like me to have this position and it all started because of an Albany Law School education. It gave me the tools to be a skilled lawyer. That is the gift the school gave to me. And those tools led me on this path.”