Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, United States Agency for International Development – Isobel Coleman

Isobel Coleman

Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, United States Agency for International Development

Ambassador Isobel Coleman is a foreign policy and global development expert with more than 25 years of experience working in government, the private sector and non-profits.  Most recently, she served on the Biden Transition Team, leading the review of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. From 2018-2020, she was the Chief Operating Officer of GiveDirectly, an international non-profit tackling poverty by providing unconditional cash transfers to the extreme poor. From 2014-2017, she was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management, Reform and Special Political Affairs


Past statements on development, diplomacy, and U.S. global leadership:


On U.S. Global Leadership: Discussing U.S. priorities, Coleman contributed, “Given the importance of women to economic development and democratization — both of which are key U.S. foreign policy objectives — Washington must promote their rights more aggressively. In particular, it must undertake, consistently and effectively, more programs designed to increase women’s educational opportunities, their control over resources, and their economic and political participation. With overwhelming data now showing that women are critical to development, good governance, and stable civil life, it is time that the United States does more to advance women’s rights abroad.” (Source)

On Democracy: Writing on democratic transitions, Coleman contended, “The promise of political freedom raises peoples’ expectations for economic and social opportunities. The success of emerging democracies depends fundamentally on whether democratization can also materially improve people’s lives.” (Source)

On Development: As a contributor the Council on Foreign Relations Development blog, Coleman wrote, “The bottom line is that when it comes to economic development, politics matter. This might seem obvious, but it is a lesson that is forgotten, contested, or ignored time and again.” (Source)

On Development Financing: “Private philanthropy, double-bottom line investing, and the mobilization of local resources are also playing a bigger role” in foreign assistance shared Coleman in an op-ed on the convening power of traditional donors.

On Women and Development: In an article for Foreign Affairs Coleman stated, “Over the last several decades, it has become accepted wisdom that improving the status of women is one of the most critical levers of international development. When women are educated and can earn and control income, a number of good results follow: infant mortality declines, child health and nutrition improve, agricultural productivity rises, population growth slows, economies expand, and cycles of poverty are broken.” (Source)