September 24, 2009
Last Friday, President Obama named Daniel Yohannes as his nominee for Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), filling one of the important positions responsible for overseeing the U.S. International Affairs Budget. Mr. Yohannes has an impressive resume
from the business world and a uniquely American story having arrived in Los Angeles at the age of 17 as an exchange student from Ethiopia with only $150 in his pocket.
Mr. Yohannes has worked in the banking industry throughout his career, demonstrating a successful track record in building revenue and capacity. Recently, he co-founded the New Resource Bank in Colorado, which finances green businesses in addition to traditional banking. He is an established business and community leader, and has served in leadership roles from museum trusteeships, to community organizations, to a gubernatorial transition team.
As CEO of the MCC, Mr. Yohannes will give strategic vision to the organization as it cultivates new and existing partnerships with developing countries. He will work closely with partnering countries to identify development needs and set clear benchmarks and realistic goals for success. Since its creation in 2004, the MCC has approved over $6.9 billion for poverty reduction compacts with countries that pass a strict eligibility criteria. Grants and programs funded by the MCC have trained more than 87,000 farmers and allowed construction to begin on over 3,362 roads.
USAID Administrator—the missing link
Unfortunately, the position with most direct responsibility for foreign assistance remains unfilled. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Member Richard Lugar sent a letter to the President expressing the immediate need for leadership at USAID. Senators Kerry and Lugar reiterated their own commitment to elevating foreign assistance and development and also discussed their Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act (S. 1524), which is one of the bipartisan bills in Congress mandating foreign assistance reform.