Dear USAID Alumna/Alumnus,
Strongly encouraged by former USAID Administrator Peter McPherson and Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall at our Annual General Meeting in October 2014, the UAA Executive Committee has been seeking funding needed to prepare an independent, objective and concise history of USAID’s nearly 60 years of development experience.
This history of USAID is needed as a means of explaining the value of development and the achievements of foreign aid. It can serve as a resource for better telling the USAID story as a key instrument of U.S. foreign policy and be the basis for developing the USAID section in the new United States Diplomacy Center now under construction. This volume should be useful to the American people and their representatives, to the international development and foreign affairs community and to those whose careers are committed to development. And, most important, it can capture important lessons learned that will help USAID continually improve the effectiveness of its work.
While significant progress has been made in this effort, additional financial support from the alumni community and others is essential. As of August 30, 2017 pledges amounting to about $180,000 from about 140 people had been made. While still short of the original goal of $300,000, we decided we could not delay start of the project any longer, especially given the current threats to USAID’s very existence. We are now seeking additional tax-deductible contributions to insure that the project can be fully financed.
Thus, we are very pleased that John Norris has agreed to author the book. John is an experienced development professional who has held senior positions in government and non-government organizations and is a successful published author. Although John will continue at the Center for American Progress, the UAA will contract with him directly, and he will also become a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development. A UAA Advisory Group will assist the author.
The UAA has a unique opportunity to create a history of development as practiced by USAID and the countries with which it has worked for nearly 60 years. This history will seek to tell the real story of USAID as you experienced it – USAID’s many innovative and substantial accomplishments as well as the disappointments – and to share these lessons with today’s policy-makers and practitioners. The UAA is already committed to promoting the renewal and expansion of the ADST oral history program for USAID retirees, and USAID has recently signed an agreement with ADST to do just that. The UAA has recently completed a bibliography of articles, books, papers, reports and analyses by USAID retirees about their USAID experience and the challenges they tried to overcome. Both these current efforts are important complements to the history project.
An effort of this kind will be a serious and major undertaking requiring significant time and effort, sound judgment, and broad knowledge of USAID and the environment in which it has operated over the past five decades. It will require the support of many partners both to finance it and to ensure it is researched and written in a balanced, objective and easily accessible fashion. The end product should be a substantial but very readable book, with links to other sources for readers interested in digging deeper.
We urge many more of our fellow USAID alumni to join the effort and make a tax-deductible contribution now. Please send your check payable to the “UAA/USAID History Project” as soon as possible. Contributions should be mailed to the UAA/USAID History Project, c/o DACOR, 4thFloor, 1801 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006. You will receive a grateful acknowledgment from the UAA and a receipt for tax purposes. Unless you specify otherwise, your name will be listed among contributors in our Newsletter and on the UAA website (www.usaidalumni.org).
Thank you very much for your consideration and support.
Carol Peasley and Alex Shakow on behalf of the UAA Executive Committee