Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from a piece that originally appeared on The Hill as "The Senate must act fast to confirm Gayle Smith" on May 5, 2015 and was written by Molly Elgin-Cossart, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
"… The next five months present an opportunity to set powerful goals—such as ending poverty and fostering conditions for business and entrepreneurship to flourish—and to work with partners to achieve them. As the world’s largest contributor of official development assistance globally, the U.S. needs to show leadership in these negotiations and ensure a focus on results and effectiveness.
The good news is that President Obama announced Thursday that he will tap development and African regional expert Gayle Smith to head USAID.
Smith, a former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-founder of the Enough Project, is well-known in development circles, and her credentials are indisputable. During her six-year tenure at the National Security Council, she oversaw the creation of leading initiatives including Power Africa, a platform to overcome the barriers that have constrained Africa’s power sector and its economic growth by pooling and leveraging commitments of governments and private sector partners. Smith also oversaw the Open Government Partnership, an innovative initiative that secures commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption, which has grown from eight to more than 60 members in less than five years.
Smith also helped coordinate U.S. government responses to a record-setting number of humanitarian crises around the world. Throughout, she ensured that development was integrated with other national security, political, and economic imperatives.
Now it is up to the Senate to confirm Smith… ”
Elgin-Cossart is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she works on issues involving foreign policy, international development, and global conflict.