President Obama has nominated Daniel W. Yohannes to head the Millennium Challenge Corp. The long-awaited move to fill a key administration post may signal movement on foreign aid reform.
The White House announced the nomination on Friday. Immediately, stakeholders highlighted the fact that the U.S. Agency for International Development still lacks a leader.
MCC and USAID each need a "full-time leader to reinforce" Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts abroad, represent their agencies before Congress, White House budget chiefs and the National Security Council; and spearhead international efforts to improve the effectiveness and coordination of development, InterAction, a coalition of more than 150 humanitarian organizations providing disaster relief, refugee assistance and sustainable development programs worldwide, argued.
A native Ethiopian, Yohannes arrived in America as a 17-year-old, carrying only $150 in his pocket. Fast forward to the mid-1990s, when as president and CEO of U.S. Bank (formerly Colorado National Bank), Yohannes grew the Colorado franchise from $2 billion to $9 billion in assets within four years. He helped usher U.S. Bank's merger with Firstar, creating one of the country's largest banks. Yohannes currently serves as president and CEO of M&R Investments, a privately-held investment firm.
A known philanthropist and community leader in Colorado, Yohannes has served on the Board of the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center, the Denver Art Museum, the University of Colorado Medical School and Project C.U.R.E.
"We commend President Obama for his commitment to modernize and invigorate the way the U.S. delivers foreign assistance," InterAction noted. "Mr. Yohannes' selection is a testament to his unique combination of foreign investment experience, entrepreneurial spirit and developing country background."