A Tribute to a Humanitarian Champion: Judy McLennan

Published January 8, 2024

The Honorable Juliette (Judy) Clagett McLennan was a founding Board member of World Food Program USA. On November 15, 2023, she died at the age of 77. Today we honor her leadership and support for a world without hunger.

When “Friends of WFP” – now World Food Program USA – was established in 1997, Catherine Bertini was at the helm of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as executive director. Bertini recruited three founding Board members for World Food Program USA: Marshall Matz as Chair of the Board, Ann Chadwick and Judy McLennan.

“Judy was a force of nature. Success followed virtually everything she touched. When President George H.W. Bush nominated her as ambassador for the Commission on Status of Women, it was the first time that function carried the rank of ambassador. Judy ran with it and was a singular force at the United Nations for promoting the appointment of women at all levels of the organization.

She was involved in the creation of many other programs, including what is now World Food Program USA. May her legacy continue forever,” said Catherine Bertini.

During her career in government and politics, which spanned over four decades from 1975 to 2023, McLennan served at national, state and local levels in a variety of positions. She worked on four presidential campaigns: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. From 1989 to 1992, she served as the first U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women under President George H.W. Bush. The Commission is the main global intergovernmental body dedicated solely to the promotion of gender equality. McLennan also served as a leader of many charities including World Food Program USA, the American Heart Association and Newport Hospital in Rhode Island. She was a true humanitarian champion.

“Judy was critical to getting World Food Program USA off the ground as one of the original three incorporators. She made an important contribution and will be greatly missed,” said Marshall Matz.

Throughout her life, McLennan served communities in the U.S. and abroad. It is thanks to Board members like her that World Food Program USA has grown over the past 26 years into a thriving catalyst for fundraising, advocacy and engagement across the U.S. in support of the U.N. World Food Programme.

We are grateful for her activism and dedication, and we offer our deepest condolences to McLennan’s two children and grandson.