Sylvia Burwell moves to White House

March 5, 2013 By Zach Silberman

Sylvia Mathews Burwell is no stranger to the importance of foreign assistance, and as President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, she will play a significant role in crafting the International Affairs Budget in the coming years if confirmed.

Burwell is a longtime champion of U.S. global engagement and why development and diplomacy are so important to America’s interests in the world. She has often spoken about the value of American global engagement, pointing out in the Huffington Post that, “What most Americans don’t realize is that less than one percent of the federal budget is allocated to development programs. And that these programs now are smarter and better than in the past. As we struggle with budgets and priorities, looking for the right investments becomes even more important.”

Coming from the private sector, Burwell brings a wealth of knowledge about ways that the private sector can complement the government in partnering on development. As the President of the Walmart Foundation, she has led the company’s charitable giving efforts and Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, as well as guiding the company’s social, environmental, and economic opportunity efforts in Africa.  In addition, Burwell served as the President of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leading a variety of initiatives in agricultural development, financial services for the poor; water, sanitation, and hygiene.

With a previous stint as the Deputy Director of OMB during the Clinton administration, and as Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Burwell is very familiar with navigating difficult budgetary climates.

Her transition back into government will come at a critical time for the International Affairs Budget, particularly after sequestration, finishing up the FY 2013 budget, and crafting a the FY 2014 budget.

Given the global challenges we face around the world, it is more important than ever the United States continue to stay engaged, and we look forward to working with Burwell if she is confirmed in this new capacity.