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Village of Pewaukee -- After reviewing three highly qualified candidates, a nine-person Pewaukee School District committee has chosen Pamela Anderson to be its 2016-17 Pewaukee High School Alumni Person of the Year. 

Anderson, a 1973 graduate, has worked extensively to eradicate world hunger. She most recently served as the director of agricultural development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation before retiring from the role earlier this year.

Anderson, who currently lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, will be back in Pewaukee in May to accept the honor.

"I am really honored to have been selected as Alumni of the Year," Anderson said. "It's really special when it comes from the place that you grew up (in). I'm delighted about this and looking forward to being back in Pewaukee in May to actually spend the day with the students at the school. I'm really excited."

Anderson said she was proud of the education she had at Pewaukee High School. She said she has gained appreciation for her education during her trips overseas.

"Just to have that foundation of really good primary school and really good secondary school, it sets you up to explore future opportunities in a way that you're not prepared if you don't have a really good public schooling," Anderson said.

While at Pewaukee High School, Anderson was the president of the school's American Field Service chapter and student council. She credits a friend of hers and recently retired Pewaukee School Board President Jim Huismann for getting involved with those groups. Huismann had been the president of the AFS chapter when he persuaded Anderson, then a sophomore, to try it out, as he was about to graduate. Anderson picked up the position her junior year and said she made a couple of lifelong friends through the group.

"It's another good example of one of the things that Pewaukee and our schools do is provide opportunities so that you start to learn about leadership," Anderson said. "I was in student council for four years. I was the student council president my senior year, president of AFS. Those are the kinds of opportunities where you learn to think about leadership and organization."

She credits John Tall, a beloved band instructor and student council adviser, with teaching her Roberts Rules of Order, which Anderson said she still uses today in her board meetings with the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID). She's part of a seven-person advisory board that advises on food security-related issues in the United States, the only current formal role she serves in. Anderson was appointed to the role by President Barack Obama in October 2015.

Anderson also wanted to thank her English teacher, Sandi Hrovatin, for helping to develop the public speaking skills she uses in speaking all over the world in her various roles, in particular executive roles such as the one she had through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"To this day, when I sit down to develop a public talk, I have her in my head, and the lessons she taught us about how you actually do public speaking," Anderson said. "There are always lots of examples like that, but she's probably the one that springs to mind first."

Once out of high school, Anderson went on to Northwestern University. During her junior year there, she went abroad to Costa Rica doing a biology field course for six months in 1976, where she said she fell in love with Latin America. After graduating, she worked for a nongovernmental organization in Chicago, Citizens for a Better Environment, working in integrated pest management, finding solutions to control disease and pest problems in agricultural crops with no or minimal use of pesticides and chemicals.

Feeling inspired by her work in Chicago, Anderson earned a master's degree from the University of Illinois Champaign in 1982 in entomology specializing in insectology and integrated pest management. Anderson earned her second master's degree in 1984 at Harvard in human ecology and a doctoral degree in population sciences and vector entomology from Harvard in 1991.

In June 2002, she was named the deputy director of general research for the International Potato Center in Peru and was appointed to the director general position two years later. The group worked in Africa and Asia to develop potato-growing programs there to help with improving food security.

After she left the IPC, Anderson was asked by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 to lead its agricultural development program from the strategy phase into the operational phase. She served in this role from Jan. 2014 until her retirement in January 2016.

"It's been a real privilege to have been engaged in this work," Anderson said.


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