Publication Date: April 30, 2015
Publication Location: WASHINGTON
Contact: Kathryn Schoenberger   |   [email protected]

President Obama has nominated Gayle Smith to head the United States Agency for International Development.

President Obama said he was “proud” to nominate Smith for the position and noted the vital role she has played in international development.

“Gayle’s energy and passion have been instrumental in guiding America’s international development policy, responding to a record number of humanitarian crises worldwide, and ensuring that development remains at the forefront of the national security agenda at a time when USAID is more indispensable than ever,” President Obama said.

The president added that Smith has his “full confidence” and believes she will be an “outstanding leader” at USAID.

World Learning President and CEO Donald Steinberg, who previously served as deputy administrator at USAID and has worked with Smith, also shared his praise for the nominee.

“Gayle is smart, savvy, innovative, devoted to global development, and committed to institutionalizing the positive reforms pushed forward under the USAID Forward agenda,” said Steinberg. “I have worked with Gayle for more than 20 years in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and I cannot think of a better choice to drive USAID and the American development mission.”

Smith is special assistant to the president and senior director for Development and Democracy on the National Security Council staff, a position she has held since 2009, with responsibility for global development, democracy, and humanitarian assistance issues. In her capacity as senior director, she has coordinated the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, led the administration’s work on global health, overseen the creation of presidential initiatives including Feed the Future, Power Africa, the Global Health Security Agenda, and the Open Government Partnership, and helped coordinate U.S. government responses to more than 15 major humanitarian crises around the world. Prior to joining the administration, Smith was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she led the Sustainable Security Project and co-founded the ENOUGH Project and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Smith also served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council from 1998 to 2001 and as advisor to the chief of staff and administrator of USAID from 1994 to 1998. Smith previously lived and worked in Africa for almost 20 years, where she was a journalist and worked for non-governmental relief and development organizations. Smith received a B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.