John J. Brennan: 2024 Citation for Laetare Medalist Claire Babineaux-Fontenot

Author: Brandi Wampler


Animated by your faith and spirit of servant leadership, you have worked tirelessly to end the hunger crisis in the United States. Under your visionary leadership as chief executive officer, Feeding America has become the largest charitable organization in the U.S., distributing food to more than 49 million people facing hunger each year.

It is a cause that is close to your heart. Growing up as one of 108 siblings — thats 108 siblings who arrived in your family through a combination of birth, foster care and adoption — you saw firsthand the impact of the neglect, abuse and food insecurity many of your siblings faced before joining your home. And you witnessed the transformation that occurs when faithful servants of God feed the hungry and welcome the vulnerable to the table.

As the granddaughter of sharecroppers, you were not only the first in your family to attend college, but also in the first generation to finish high school. Your abiding faith in the power of education led you to complete both a Juris Doctor and a Master of Laws in taxation.

And almost 10 years ago, having reached the top rungs of the corporate ladder, while serving as global treasurer and executive vice president of finance for Walmart, you were called to a higher purpose. You did not hesitate to leave that world behind and make a leap of faith.

You have shepherded Feeding America through many challenges, including a global pandemic and the ensuing increase in food insecurity. And through it all, you have become a beacon of hope, inspiring many with your vision of a nation “where no one — no one — has to wonder where their next meal is coming from.”

In celebration of your steadfast dedication to those most in need, your remarkable compassion and generosity of spirit, and your embodiment of Christ’s love, the University of Notre Dame rejoices to confer its highest honor, the Laetare Medal

On Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Chicago, Illinois