Florence Chenoweth

At age 32, Chenoweth became Africa’s first female minister of agriculture. Following a violent coup in her native Liberia, she became a political refugee and eventually traveled to Madison to earn her doctorate. Through her research and subsequent employment with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Office, Chenoweth has been heavily involved in agricultural reform projects in such countries as Zambia, Gambia and South Africa. More recently, she launched UW–Madison’s Human Rights Initiative, which works toward education and reform in areas where fundamental human rights are denied. In the battle against such formidable opponents as political oppression, world hunger and the AIDS pandemic, Chenoweth turns to an enduring sense of optimism to drive her efforts. “Even in the darkest of times, I see hope at the end,” she says.