President and CEO
World Food Program USA
Rick Leach believes hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem. He serves as President and CEO of World Food Program USA, a non-profit that helps shape U.S. public policy and generates resources for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the global leader in the fight to end hunger. Rick has dedicated his career to finding solutions to some of the world’s greatest social problems. A hallmark of his efforts has been establishing systems that sustain progress well into the future. From championing federal legislation to directing campaigns on issues such as environmental sustainability, counterfeit drug trafficking and children’s health, Rick brings people together and mobilizes them to action.
His passion to feed families in need began nearly 25 years ago on the foreign policy staff of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Hunger. When Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole proposed an initiative to provide food to hungry children in schools in the world’s poorest countries, Rick worked with them to develop the legislation and led the campaign to pass the bill in Congress. Over its nearly two decades, the McGovern-Dole program has proven to be one of the most effective strategies for fighting hunger, alleviating poverty and promoting education.
In 1997, Rick established WFP USA, where he and his team work to build partnerships and garner support from the private sector and ensure the right U.S. policies, programs and government commitment to eradicating hunger and promoting global food security are in place. Under Rick’s guidance, WFP USA led the effort to develop and establish the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, a comprehensive approach that has played a key role in shaping and expanding U.S. Government anti-hunger efforts. His team is also leading the effort to focus greater attention on societal instability and hunger, demonstrating a direct link between food insecurity, instability and U.S. national security interests with the WFP USA report, Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability, which shows how food insecurity destabilizes economies, societies and governments, resulting in various forms of social unrest.
Prior to taking the helm at WFP USA, Rick tackled major social challenges at a wide range of organizations across the public and private sectors. Rick launched and directed a successful global campaign in collaboration with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society in an effort that helped lead to the establishment of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Working with the World Health Organization, Rick developed a plan to halt the production and trade of counterfeit drugs. The Living Planet Campaign, which he established and launched for the World Wildlife Fund, created a unified initiative to protect animals and biodiversity across the globe. For the Alliance for Representative Democracy, he expanded a campaign to ensure that civic education is included within the curriculum of all public schools in the U.S. In 1993, he was appointed by the Clinton Administration to create and direct the federal government’s early childhood immunization campaign at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Within three years, the campaign helped boost the nation’s childhood immunization rate from 50 to 80 percent.
Rick is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association of D.C. and a current member of the Board of Trustees of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, the Board of Winrock International and the Council on Foreign Relations.