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Speaker Details


David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for people struggling with hunger and poverty in his own country and around the world. He is president of Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy movement to end hunger, and Bread for the World Institute, which does complementary research and education. Since Beckmann took over as president of Bread for the World in 1991, it has grown to a network of two million people and 3,000 local churches. He also launched and leads the Alliance to End Hunger, a secular coalition of diverse organizations engaged in advocacy. Bread and the Alliance lobby the U.S. Congress and the administration – and repeatedly achieve far-reaching changes for hungry and poor people. Since the year 2000, U.S. government funding for poverty-focused international aid has quadrupled, and the quality of aid has improved. Bread for the World’s advocacy has been important at every step in this process. While President Trump has pushed to cut international aid by about one-third, a bipartisan coalition in Congress has, in fact, increased aid. Funding for assistance to low-income Americans is politically controversial, and Bread for the World has had to focus on defending against cuts. Since 2011, every budget that either house of Congress approved has proposed to cut roughly $2 trillion over ten years from low-income programs. Bread for the World has provided leadership in the U.S. faith community’s opposition to these cuts, and the finalization of specific cuts has been defeated again and again by narrow votes. In the end, there have been no significant cuts to low-income programs. In 2019, Bread for the World passed bipartisan legislation in support of international efforts to end child malnutrition, lobbied for the first increases in domestic low-income programs since 2010, and led the U.S. faith community in securing video statements on hunger and poverty from eight of the primary-election candidates for President of the United States. Before he moved to Bread for the World, Beckmann was a World Bank economist (1976-1991). He worked on urban poverty projects, wrote speeches for the Bank’s president, and then led the Bank’s initial engagement with civil society around the world. Beckmann has authored numerous books. He co-authored a 1991 book with Ismail Serageldin, the first director of the Alexandria Library. It is titled Friday Morning Reflections at the World Bank: Essays on Values and Development. This book was later published in Arabic by the Library. Beckmann’s most recent book is titled Exodus from Hunger: Changing the Politics of Hunger. Beckmann is both a pastor and an economist. He earned degrees from Yale, the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, and the London School of Economics. He has also received eight honorary doctorates. He was awarded the World Food Prize in 2010 and recently received an award for distinguished service from Islamic Relief USA. Beckmann will this year retire from Bread for the World and begin a program of work to develop new strategies to make U.S. politics more supportive of people in poverty.