McGill graduate pledges $1.5 million to support global food security efforts


New York-based business analyst’s interest borne out of childhood spent on farm

Increasing food price volatility, recurrent floods and droughts, and shrinking land and water resources have pushed millions of people into hunger and poverty. According to the United Nations, there are now nearly one billion undernourished people globally – which means that one in seven go hungry each day.

A generous $1.5-million gift from businesswoman and graduate Margaret A. Gilliam, BSc’59, will help McGill University build on its recent initiatives to tackle the global food and nutrition crisis and seek long-term answers for sustainable agricultural production.

Gilliam’s gift will support research, teaching and graduate fellowships at the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, which was created in 2010 and is now recognized as Canada’s leading multidisciplinary teaching and research centre on global food security. Based at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Institute hosts the annual McGill Conference on Global Food Security, which brings together governments, academics, NGOs, the food industry and agricultural experts from around the world.

“Food security is a worldwide problem that requires our immediate attention,” Gilliam said. “I am delighted that McGill is working towards addressing this issue and that I can play some part in this worthwhile mission.”

Unlike the study of food safety, which focuses on protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses, food security involves ensuring that the world’s populations have secure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food supplies

Margaret Gilliam’s gift will be invested in three areas:

The Margaret A. Gilliam Faculty Scholar in Food Security, which will serve to attract or retain a scholar who pursues research in the area of global food security.

The Margaret A. Gilliam Fellowships in Food Security, which will recognize and support outstanding McGill graduate students who are studying global food security issues.

The Margaret A. Gilliam Endowment in Food Security, which will be used to fund, in perpetuity, teaching, research and outreach initiatives related to food security.

“Maggie Gilliam’s gift will allow us to find solutions to some of the most devastating problems currently affecting nearly one billion people around the world: food security, malnutrition and hunger,” said Chandra A. Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Interim Director of the McGill Institute for Global Food Security.

“Through her generosity, we will attract and retain outstanding professors, scholars and graduate students who are working to make our world a better and more secure place for future generations,” he said.

Born in Ottawa, Gilliam grew up on a farm in British Columbia, where she gained an appreciation for agriculture and the importance of sustainability. She now lives in New York City, where she spent over 30 years as a Wall Street securities analyst, covering all facets of the retailing industry and other related areas. She went on to found Gilliam & Co., a research and consulting firm that assists companies in developing and executing viable business strategies, and helps investors optimize returns in both the private and public sectors.

Marc Weinstein, McGill’s Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations), praised Gilliam for her strong belief in the importance of supporting scientific education and scholarship. “McGill is deeply grateful for Maggie Gilliam’s incredible passion and her commitment to our University,” he said. “Her visionary leadership in making a gift that includes both direct and endowed funding will have both an immediate impact on our students and researchers, and allow for important work in food security to continue in perpetuity.”

This latest gift builds on the momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which is raising the funds needed to attract and retain top students and faculty, increase access to quality education, and ensure that McGill remains one of the world’s great research-intensive and student-centred universities.

For more information on the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, visit

For more information on Campaign McGill, visit


Contact Information

Julie Fortier
Media Relations Office
julie.c.fortier [at]
Office Phone: