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December 1, 2018 at 5:14 pm #11808Ven SureshKeymaster
Sometimes the work that makes the biggest impact doesn’t always make the front page: a new school in Jordan, a greenhouse in Albania, a shellfish hatchery in the Philippines. Across the world, we are lifting lives, building communities, and promoting self-reliance. As we do this, the world gets a glimpse of who the American people are and what we stand for. This week, I visited the U.S. Agency for International Development to talk with our team and explore the critical role America plays in these important efforts.
Administrator Mark Green and I both deeply value the importance of foreign assistance. When decisions are made regarding foreign policy, aid is an integral part of the calculus. I think about it on a daily basis when it comes to America’s relationship with North Korea, Mexico, and many other nations.
It was my pleasure to get over to USAID and see how our foreign assistance is being implemented around the world, in so many different ways. In the Operations Center, I received an update with Administrator Green on the efforts currently underway to address the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I saw some of the kits that we’re distributing – full of blankets, water purification equipment, and other supplies – and learned about our seed funding that’s helping disease-stricken areas of developing countries. Ebola contamination suits – manufactured in part thanks to agency grant money – were on full display, serving as a stark reminder of the pandemics USAID fights as part of its diplomatic mission.
After the tour, I gathered with members of the USAID team to hear about what’s been on their minds. One topic that came up in our discussion was diversity in our recruitment and hiring, and especially the need to ensure diversity in our mid-level and senior ranks. I am committed to that goal and am applying lessons learned from my time as Director of the CIA. We have a ways to go – but we’ll get there.
A second topic was our USAID employees who are serving overseas with their families. When their living conditions aren’t satisfactory, we must improve them. As I said during our discussion, I welcome any recommendations on specific situations that need to be addressed. Mrs. Pompeo and I understand the sacrifice made by the loved ones who support staff domestically and abroad. Making sure they are well cared for is a common sense way of showing State and USAID’s commitment to them.
During our conversation, I also emphasized that my approach from Day One has been to empower our team members by giving them the authority they need to do their jobs and also holding them accountable for their performance. That is how we build high-caliber teams – by demanding and celebrating excellence.
Thank you to our colleagues at USAID for demonstrating American generosity – and excellence – in all that you do.
Until next time,
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