College or university of Ag Sciences alumna is component of U.N. group that receives Nobel Prize

University PARK, Pa. — A Penn Condition School of Agricultural Sciences alumna is a senior member of an group that has obtained the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

“We have been really surprised and honored by the Nobel Peace Prize,” stated Brenda Behan, deputy regional director for East Africa for the United Nation’s Entire world Food Programme, which is the world’s premier humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million individuals in 88 nations.

The corporation also supports university overall health and diet plans, connects farmers to marketplaces, and assists communities increase very long-phrase foodstuff security and resilience to local weather change.

Behan, who attained a grasp of specialist studies in community and economic improvement in 2018 by means of Penn State’s Entire world Campus, has held various roles for the duration of her 18-yr profession. Right before signing up for the Environment Food Programme, she done undergraduate scientific studies in engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology. Behan labored for the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers in advance of turning out to be a civil and environmental engineer for the U.S. Navy.

In her operate for the Navy, she concentrated largely on naval amenities globally and specialised in ocean engineering. She eventually shifted into environmental remediation and worked on superfund websites about the District of Columbia. Her next transfer took her to Italy, exactly where she labored on environmental and civil engineering assignments on navy bases in the Mediterranean region.

Brenda Behan

Brenda Behan, deputy regional director for East Africa, United Nation’s Planet Foodstuff Programme.

Behan utilized for a work at the Earth Food items Programme on a whim. “I’d normally been fascinated by the United Nations,” she reported. “My mom and dad were being teachers in the worldwide school method, so I grew up in Samoa and Germany. The international factors of the United Nations’ operate captivated me, but I did not know significantly about it.”

Behan’s to start with position was as main of infrastructure and facilities administration in Rome. In 2014, she moved to the Nairobi regional business office as the senior regional engineering officer for East and Central Africa. At this stage, she determined to resume her reports toward her group and economic enhancement diploma, which she experienced commenced when performing in D.C.

“Back then, I looked at this Penn Point out system and assumed it was really exciting — I even took 1 study course,” she said. “Twenty many years later, when I was ready to go back again to faculty, I remembered how great my encounter was with Entire world Campus even before there was these kinds of a variety of on the internet communications applications for length mastering.”

It took Behan three years to complete the diploma, but she stated she is satisfied she trapped with it.

“It’s an incredible software,” she stated. “It is interesting, properly-structured and properly done. The on the net program enabled me to do my classwork in a different time zone on a different continent, however also sense like I was not completely isolated and that I could nevertheless interact with my classmates and professors.”

Behan selected this system simply because it helped boost her knowledge of difficulties similar to humanitarian do the job. “There’s crisis portfolio operate wherever you’re doing the job with refugees and situations in which people are in determined need to have following a climatic shock this kind of as a flood or drought,” she stated, incorporating that the agency sent 4.2 million metric tons of foods in 2019.

She also observed that the Planet Meals Programme produces stabilizing disorders for peace and focuses on long-term systemic issues to generate ailments to support persons turn into self-reliant. “Combined with my curiosity about the larger plan of WFP’s get the job done, this degree opened my intellect to other vocation prospects right after decades of focusing on engineering,” she reported.

After finishing her diploma, Behan grew to become the agency’s senior deputy region director in Kenya.

“During the application procedure, I introduced to bear a large amount of what I realized from my master’s,” she mentioned. “I sold myself primarily based on acquiring this complex background and the information in the financial and group progress facets.”

Behan moved to her present-day purpose as the deputy regional director in the regional business office wherever she started off in Nairobi, but at a extra senior stage. The communities she will work with experience lots of difficulties, primarily prompted by conflict but compounded by local weather transform and, much more a short while ago, the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have about 4% of the worldwide population but about 20% of the foods insecurity,” Behan said. “The conditions are challenging, but there are also tremendous alternatives and development currently being produced. That is enjoyable to see and be a element of.”