Two national leaders will join the Colorado State University team, in part to advise efforts surrounding the planned National Western Center, a project that will establish Colorado as a nexus for food innovation and Western heritage.
Tom Vilsack, CEO and President of the US Dairy Export Council, former Iowa Governor and US Secretary of Agriculture, will be joining Denver Water and the Colorado State University System as a Strategic Adviser of Food & Water Initiatives at the National Western Center and as Global Chair for the International Board of Counselors on Food & Water Initiatives.
Christie Vilsack, longtime education and literacy champion and former senior advisor for international education at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will also join the Colorado State University System as Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Educational Access and Presidential Visiting Scholar of Educational Access.
“The challenges that are facing our globe will need all of our best efforts and all of our best thoughts to identify sustainable solutions,” Colorado State President Tony Frank said. “We are excited to add these two incredibly qualified national leaders to our team and to continue to elevate the conversation, and collaborate to create great impact for our state, our country, and our world.”
Focus on community and education
Christie Vilsack is a national leader in education and literacy, with a breadth of experience working on behalf of diverse populations. She has taught at every level of K-12, at the college level, and also led a statewide literacy effort as Iowa’s First Lady. Before working for USAID, Christie Vilsack ran a women’s health research initiative – funded by the Buffett Foundation – to reduce unintended pregnancies for women living in rural communities, allowing many to pursue higher education as a result.
Tom Vilsack will support the growing educational partnerships at the new National Western Center in Denver. The project, a redevelopment – and doubling – of the current National Western Stock Show site, will expand the focus and footprint of the North Denver complex significantly. The 250-acre, $1.1 billion National Western Center will break ground in the coming years and convert the historic site into a year-round destination for entertainment, research and educational opportunities, and agricultural business innovation and incubation.
Bringing together global leaders
In addition, Tom Vilsack will participate in lectures, policy discussions, and faculty and student collaborations; as well as establish an annual meeting at the National Western Center focused on the interface of agriculture and water with integration to climate smart agriculture initiatives.
“With strengths in agriculture, water and innovation, Denver and Colorado are poised to play a critical role in the global challenges we face today, such as how to make the best use of our water and how to feed a growing population,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “The National Western Center will be a launching point for tackling these critical issues facing communities worldwide, and Tom and Christie Vilsack, as national leaders, will bring notable leadership and expertise to the pressing matters we’re seeking to make progress on.”
Tom Vilsack agreed.
“Agriculture holds the key to finding solutions to the world’s largest problems,” Tom Vilsack said. “I’m excited to represent the expertise and research capabilities of Colorado State University, and pull together partners from around the world to participate in the vision of the new National Western Center, and to create global impact.”
Tom Vilsack will be responsible for forming and chairing the Board of Counselors to advise CSU, Denver Water, and the National Western Stock Show on priorities around the interface of food, water, energy, the environment, and human health. He will also help formulate the vision of the new joint CSU-Denver Water facility at the National Western.
“Denver Water is excited to have Tom Vilsack as part of our working team,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead. “His insight, experience, and capacity will be integral to our innovations around local and global water issues.”