David M. Beasley served as the Executive Director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) from 2017 until 2023. The WFP is the largest international humanitarian organization and delivers food assistance and other aid to nearly 100 million people a year in dozens of countries. Beasley’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic won accolades for saving millions of lives as more people around the world were forced into poverty. He also helped boost private and governmental funding for the aid program by billions of dollars by spanning deep political divides.
Before coming to WFP, Beasley spent a decade working with high-profile leaders and on-the-ground program managers in more than 100 countries, directing projects designed to foster peace, reconciliation and economic progress. He travelled to as many as 30 countries a year, organizing, leading or participating in conferences and missions in Kosovo, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen, among others. His work has allowed him to develop deep relationships with leaders around the world.
As Governor of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999, Beasley guided the state during years of economic transformation, helping to reshape the state’s economy into a healthy, diverse and robust market. The work led to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, with a dramatic increase in private sector capital investment. Beasley was the first Governor in South Carolina to make a public push for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol dome, a move that earned him the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He was first elected to public office at the age of 21 as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Beasley and his wife Mary Wood have four children and three grandchildren. A native of Lamar, South Carolina, he earned a bachelor’s degree from USC in 1979 and graduated from USC’s School of Law in 1983.