Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LL.M. Alum Doug O'Brien - Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development

We are delighted to announce that our alumnus, Doug O'Brien was recently appointed Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA. Doug's passion for rural communities and his history of thoughtful innovation in rural development initiatives make this a perfect appointment to this important position.

This appointment is one of a series of high level USDA positions in which Doug has served.  His prior position was Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development and before that, he served as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack. At the beginning of Secretary Vilsack's term of office, he served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

Before joining the USDA, Doug served as the Assistant Director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. In this capacity, he assisted the Director in administering the day-to-day operations of that department in such areas as plant industries, animal health, and its laboratories. In addition, he was responsible for developing the department's biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy policy.

Doug has also served as Senior Advisor to Iowa Governor Chet Culver, Co-Director of the National Agricultural Law Center when it was associated with the LL.M. Program at the University of Arkansas School of Law, and Senior Staff Attorney at the Drake Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

Doug is former counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, where he worked on the 2002 Farm Bill.

He also served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Leonard Boswell, focusing primarily on Rep. Boswell's work on the House Agriculture Committee, and as a Clerk for Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Doug graduated from Loras College, earned a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Iowa, and received his LL.M. in Agricultural Law from our Program. He was raised on a diversified farm in Iowa and has dedicated his career to agriculture and rural policy.

I am pleased to report that I had a chance to visit with Doug just last week when he stopped by the LL.M. office to say hello.  He was in Northwest Arkansas speaking a a Value-Added Agriculture conference.  It was so nice to see him, and we wish him the best in his new position.  We can all be very proud of the good work that he is doing.  Speaking of which, check out the article about some of his recent work and its impact in Arkansas (and see a great picture of him caulking) in the Times Record article, Officials Tout Energy-Efficient Home Program.

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