One Country Project announced former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy as the newest member of its Board of Directors.
“Secretary Espy has been a historic leader for Mississippi and he not only brings extensive knowledge and experience to the One Country Project’s board, but also a passion for advancing thoughtful and inclusive policies that are derived from listening and understanding the needs of rural Americans,” said One Country Project co-founder Heidi Heitkamp.
As former Secretary Espy explained when he sat down with former Sen. Heitkamp on One Country’s Hot Dish Podcast, “I want to be part of the embracing message to unite the country into one.”
Mike Espy has been a trailblazer throughout his career. He began his career in public service as the Assistant Secretary of State in Mississippi, where he helped reform school finance to increase funding for rural public schools. He went on to serve as the Assistant Attorney General and the Director of the Mississippi Consumer Protection and Medicaid Fraud Divisions until 1986 when he became the first African American elected to Congress from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era.
As a member of Congress, Espy served on the Agriculture, Budget, and Select Committee on Hunger and wrote critical economic development legislation that benefitted rural communities among other accomplishments achieved through working collaboratively with both his Democratic and Republican colleagues.
After six years in Congress, Espy was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. He was the first African American to hold this position, where he expanded trade markets for farmers and worked to ensure rural America’s priorities were addressed in Washington and abroad.
In 2018, Espy was a run-off candidate in the Special Election for U.S. Senate in Mississippi and became the Democratic nominee for the same seat in 2020. In the 2018 run-off he received 46.4% of the vote.
“Much of my career in public service has been rooted in ensuring rural America’s interests and priorities are well-represented and that they get the resources they need to succeed,” said Secretary Mike Espy. “I am excited to join the One Country Project Board and join its effort to bring America together and to help bring economic opportunity to rural families and small-town communities by elevating the dialogue around the issues impacting Rural America.”