About Rev. David Beckmann

David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for people struggling with hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.


He is concluding nearly 30 years as president of Bread for the World and is launching a digitally based learning initiative on poverty, God, and politics. It focuses on emerging strategies to change the politics of poverty. Right now, that means all hands on deck to elect Joe Biden and defeat Trumpism. He will also continue in a new role at Bread.


During David’s tenure at Bread for the World, it grew to a network of two million people and 3,000 local churches.  He also led Bread for the World Institute, which does complementary research and education (on structural racism, for example). David founded the Alliance to End Hunger, which engages diverse organizations – Jewish and Muslim groups, universities, hospitals, charities, and corporations – in building the public and political will to end hunger.   


Since the year 2000, U.S. government funding for poverty-focused international aid has quadrupled, and the quality of aid has improved. Bread for the World’s advocacy has been important at every step in this process. While President Trump has pushed to cut international aid by about one-third, a bipartisan coalition in Congress has, in fact, increased aid.


Funding for assistance to low-income Americans faces strong political opposition, and Bread for the World has provided leadership within the faith community in resisting cuts.  Despite repeated government shutdowns in recent years, Congress has again and again, by narrow votes, held the line against cuts to low-income programs.


In 2020, Bread for the World has helped to shape Congress’ response to the COVID crisis, including cash payments to people who are too poor to pay taxes and $1.15 billion for USAID’s COVID response in developing countries.


Before he moved to Bread for the World, Beckmann was a World Bank economist (1976-1991).  He worked on urban poverty projects, wrote speeches for the Bank’s president, and then led the Bank’s initial engagement with civil society around the world.


Beckmann has authored numerous books on faith, economics, and politics.  His most recent book is Exodus from Hunger: Changing the Politics of Hunger.


Beckmann is both a pastor and an economist.  He earned degrees from Yale, the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, and the London School of Economics.  He has also received eight honorary doctorates.  He was awarded the World Food Prize in 2010.  He has recently been honored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Islamic Relief USA, Universities Fighting World Hunger, College of Holy Cross, and Egypt’s Library of Alexandria.  


Boards and Councils



Eight honorary doctorates, 1993-2020

Testified before Congress more the twenty times

Author of six books
Partnership Award, Islamic Relief, 2019
InterAction Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award, 2016
National Latino Evangelical Coalition Anti-Poverty Champion Award, 2015
Community of Christ International Peace Award, 2014
Rumi Forum Peace and Dialogue Awards, 2014
World Food Prize, 2010

Boards and Councils

President’s Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to Address Poverty and Inequality
Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, USAID
U.S. Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Co-Chair, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
U.N. Committee on World Food Security
Board, InterAction
Board, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa 
Chair, National Anti-Hunger Organizations
U.N. Millennium Hunger Task Force
Board, Congressional Hunger Center
Advisory Board, Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, Iowa State University
Founding Board, ONE Campaign
Advisory Committee, 20/20 Vision for Food, Agriculture and the Environment

Council on Foreign Relations