PETERSBURG — The woman tapped to hold the No. 2 post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture took to Twitter Monday to thank President-elect Joe Biden for the opportunity to, among other things, "end hunger in the U.S."
Dr, Jewell Hairston Bronaugh, currently Virginia's agriculture commissioner and a former dean at Virginia State university, was tapped by Biden Monday to become deputy agriculture secretary. In that position, she would be responsible for the day-to-day USDA operations and report directly to Agriculture Secretary-designee Tom Vilsack, who held the same position in the Obama administration.
"Thank you everyone for the well wishes. And, thank you @PresElectBiden for the opportunity to promote U.S. agriculture, helping to end hunger in the U.S. and abroad & preserving our Nation's natural resources," Bronaugh wrote on Twitter shortly after her nomination was announced.
Should her nomination be approved by the Senate, Bronaugh would become the first Black woman to hold the second-in-command position at USDA.
It would also be consecutive firsts for Bronaugh, as she also was the first Black woman to ever be Virginia's agriculture commissioner. She was appointed to that position three years ago by Gov. Ralph S. Northam.
In a statement Monday morning, Northam praised Bronaugh as "a true leader" who championed causes not often at the forefront when agriculture is mentioned. For example, she advocated for greater awareness of mental health among Virginia's farmers and pushed
“I am proud that she will be representing the both the commonwealth and all Americans in such a critical role at USDA and in this new administration," Northam said in the statement.
Bronaugh's nomination was one of five key posts announced by the president-elect's office Monday morning.
Prior to becoming agriculture commissioner, Bronaugh was state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency for three years.
While at VSU, she was the associate administrator for extension programs and a 4-H extension specialist. She later became the agriculture college's dean, where she oversaw extension, research and academic programs.
Bronaugh started her career with VSU in 2001.
VSU president Dr. Makola M. Abdullah lauded the news of Bronaugh's nomination. "She knows agriculture, the 1890s Land Grant system and understands the importance of our mission," Abdullah said in a statement released by the university. "We look forward to supporting her and working with her to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”
Bronaugh received her Ph.D in career and technical education from Virginia Tech.
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