Growing up in Chicago’s Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, Anne Alonzo, ’00 (XP-69), stayed close to home for her education. As a teenager, she commuted to the Loop to study shorthand and typing. She then went on to earn degrees at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago-Kent College of Law. However, Chicago was only the beginning of a remarkable journey. Alonzo leveraged her education into a career that placed her front and center of global issues, including international trade, African subsistence farming, and Mexican environmental standards.
In 2011, as vice president of global public policy and corporate affairs at Kraft Foods Inc., Alonzo became the first woman to lead the World Cocoa Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to encourage sustainable cocoa farming and raise farmers’ incomes. It represents nearly 100 members constituting more than 85 percent of the global chocolate industry.
Alonzo worked to spotlight the challenges faced by cocoa farmers, such as limited access to capital and low productivity. She forged partnerships to help farmers and strengthen the cocoa industry. During Alonzo’s tenure, the World Cocoa Foundation entered into partnership agreements between the US Peace Corps and the cocoa-producing nations of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to help address child labor and education problems in those nations. The foundation runs vocational training for out-of-school youth, offers literacy training, and awards scholarships.
Alonzo gained as much as she gave: “I got a glimpse of the lives of these farmers, their dignity, hard work, and beautiful spirits. It was my privilege to do my part to help improve their lives.”