President of World Food Prize to Retire

Cindy Zimmerman

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn will retire as president of the World Food Prize Foundation on January 3, 2020 after 20 years leading the organization.

Quinn made the announcement earlier this week at the Hall of Laureates in Des Moines during a reception commemorating the 105th anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birth. “Leading the World Food Prize and endeavoring to fulfill the vision of Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. has been an extraordinary privilege,” he said. “What at first seemed an impossible quest, to have the World Food Prize come to be seen as the ‘Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,’ has over the last twenty years become a dream come true.”

When Amb. Quinn assumed leadership of the World Food Prize in January of 2000, he had a one-person staff and the World Food Prize was a one-day event, drawing only 25 to 30 participants from outside of Iowa. He was given the goal of fulfilling two dreams:

Norman Borlaug’s vision that the World Food Prize would become recognized globally as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture;” and

John Ruan’s idea for a prize that would promote central Iowa as the “food and agricultural capital of America.”

In endeavoring to fulfill these goals, Amb. Quinn has built the annual World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony and the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium into the “Davos of Global Food Security,” an event that has been attended annually by over 1,200 people from 40 to 50 different countries.

A national firm has been hired to search for a successor while Quinn will have the title of President Emeritus of the World Food Prize Foundation for his lifetime.

World Food Prize