New USDA nutrition, marketing and rural development leaders

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The Biden government on Thursday announced the appointment of three USDA deputy undersecretaries: Stacy Dean for Nutrition, Justin Maxson for Rural Development and Mae Wu for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Deputy Undersecretaries usually come second only to the sub-cabinet officers who oversee the USDA’s seven operational wings.

Prior to joining the USDA, Dean was vice president of food policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank. “She joined the center in 1997 and has extensive experience understanding the delivery of health and personal service programs at the state and local levels,” said the USDA. Dean was an analyst in the White House budget office before joining the CBPP.

Mason, the new Assistant Undersecretary of State for Rural Development, was Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which works to reduce poverty in the South. “We recognize that poverty is complex and diverse,” said the foundation. Maxson previously served as president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development based in Berea, Kentucky. The group, now known as the Mountain Association, says it is “investing in people and places in eastern Kentucky to drive a just transition to a new economy that is more diverse, sustainable, equitable and resilient”.

Wu was the Senior Director of Health and Nutrition for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, before moving to the USDA’s marketing and regulation division. A one-paragraph NRDC biography reads, “Since joining NRDC in 2006, Mae Wu has focused her legal advocacy on removing toxic chemicals from consumer products and strengthening pesticide regulation.”

The administration also announced that David Grahn would serve as deputy general counsel in the legal business of the USDA, the Office of General Counsel. Grahn was among the six people appointed late Thursday, including Matt Herrick as the USDA’s communications director.