Challiss McDonough

Senior Communications Officer, Global Issues
United Nations World Food Programme

During her 20-year career in journalism and the humanitarian sector, Challiss McDonough has worked in more than 40 countries on four continents, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. First as a reporter and then as an aid worker, she witnessed food crises erupt in half a dozen countries, each of them with its own unique set of underlying causes -- some driven by drought and climate change, some by poor governance, poverty and lack of infrastructure, others predominantly fueled by conflict, still others by high food prices. In each case, she saw the way families struggled to put food on the table, and witnessed the heroic efforts parents will make to provide for their children against overwhelming odds.

In her current role at the United Nations World Food Programme, Challiss anchors communications, advocacy and outreach efforts in the United States from her base in Washington, D.C. Before returning to her hometown of Washington in 2017, she lived in Nairobi for six years, leading WFP’s communications team through a number of devastating humanitarian crises in the East Africa region, including famines in Somalia and South Sudan. Challiss began serving with WFP in Afghanistan in 2009, and before that was a radio journalist based in Johannesburg and Cairo.

Challiss attended public schools and universities in Virginia, California and North Carolina. She lives with two adopted Kenyan street dogs.

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Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.