Anne L. Alonzo, Class of 1984

Global agricultural public policy advisor

As Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Anne Alonzo is responsible for the oversight of policies and programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber and specialty crops. Alonzo began her career as environmental counsel with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago and has gone on to hold several senior positions in the public sector, including Deputy Assistant Secretary, International Trade Administration, with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Environmental Attache to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Alonzo also served as Senior Vice President at the National Foreign Trade Council, where she was involved in the congressional passage of the Dominican Republic/Central America Free Trade Agreement and was part of the private sector leadership team promoting passage of U.S. trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia. Just prior to joining the USDA, Alonzo served as Vice President, Global Public Policy, Corporate Affairs, at Kraft Foods, the nation’s largest food company.

Who was your favorite professor at Kent?

Marc Kadish. He was just so full of life, so encouraging, and really took an interest in me. He saw the young person right out of college who didn’t know what she was getting in to and he took an interest. I really applied myself and I think he was proud of that. He always looked in on me to see how I was doing.

Who’s your favorite Supreme Court Justice, living or deceased?

Sandra Day O’Connor. I was reading about her spirit and courage the other day. She’s definitely a role model for women. Also, her practicality. She’s very pragmatic and I like that in people. From what I’ve seen of her I really admired.

What does your future hold?

I just want to keep on doing things that are rewarding and a contribution. I think it’s really important that you attach to what you’re good at it, and I think you’ll be better at it. People will see that and you’ll do better. Perhaps sit on a public board or two.  I’m really interested in tomorrow’s youth, particularly Latino youth. This demographic is exploding in the United States and I think I would like to mentor Latinas in particular. I just have a heart for it. I came from modest means and not a lot of professional guidance, so I think that’s something.

What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?

Just be open minded. We’re in a new world now, and it’s global. It’s inter-connected. Think outside of the box and think of that law degree as a ticket to many things. It’s a ticket to work in many areas- non-profit, legal, and corporate. You’re not limited to traditional lawyering, and I think people really should know that. It’s a trade and you’re taught, guided and formed. You’re not limited to practicing law, but if you want to practice law, lawyers are much needed.

How do you think Chicago-Kent prepared you for your present success?

The foundation, the discipline, and the legal writing in particular. Also, the positive experience with many other law students and lawyers. The school has always reached out to me on the different paths I’ve been on and I’m proud of that. I’ve always been impressed that they keep the alumni in their sights and reach out.