President's Dialogue on World Hunger to Feature Michaelle Jean

January 25, 2011 - News Release

Michaëlle Jean, United Nations special envoy to Haiti and Canada's former governor general, will open a special President's Dialogue at the University of Guelph Feb. 25. The event is part of the sixth annual international Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit being hosted by Guelph.

The dialogue will bring together leading international activists, scholars and political figures to discuss “Hunger Has No Boundaries.” That is also the theme of the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit, being held in Canada for the first time.

“Michaëlle Jean will bring diverse expertise and a unique perspective to the dialogue, and we are thrilled that she is participating,” said U of G president Alastair Summerlee, who will moderate the dialogue and co-host the hunger summit.

“We want to have a frank public discussion about the barriers Canada and the world face in meeting the United Nation’s No. 1 Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger around the world. Madame Jean, as a UN envoy and a social activist, will add a critical and experienced voice.”

Jean was Canada’s 27th governor general and the first black woman to serve in the role. Last fall, she was named the special envoy to Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Born in Haiti, Jean came to Canada at age 11. A well-known journalist and broadcaster, she worked for CBC radio and television, including hosting the news programs The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts, before launching her own interview show, Michaëlle, in 2004. She also worked at shelters for abused women and with aid organizations for immigrant women and families.

The President’s Dialogue will also feature opening remarks from David Jacobson, the American ambassador to Canada.

Summerlee will moderate the discussion. Dialogue panellists are:

  • Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, director of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Africa and former vice-chancellor, University of Ghana;
  • Ramiro Lopes Da Silva, deputy executive director, World Food Program in Rome;
  • June Henton, dean of health sciences, Auburn University, and founder of Universities Fighting World Hunger;
  • Quentin Johnson, international consultant on food supplementation; and
  • Pamela Wallin, senator and chancellor of the University of Guelph.

The dialogue runs from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 104 of Rozanski Hall. It is free and open to the public and will also be available live on the Internet. Panellists will take questions from both live and web audiences.

Summerlee began the President’s Dialogue in 2006 to bring leading experts to U of G to discuss important contemporary issues.

The Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit runs Feb. 25 to 27. It’s expected to bring more than 400 people to campus, from university students and faculty to government and aid workers, politicians and social activists.

“We want to build a network of students and others around the world who are dedicated to ending the war on hunger — get them committed to fighting hunger in any way that they can,” said Gavin Armstrong, a fourth-year commerce student and member of the University’s Board of Governors who will co-host the summit.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or

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