ONE Campaign announces Gayle Smith as CEO

Gayle Smith, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and new president and CEO of the ONE Campaign. Photo by: Ellie Van Houtte / USAID / CC BY-NC

The ONE Campaign, the poverty-fighting advocacy organization co-founded by philanthropist and U2 frontman Bono, on Tuesday said Gayle Smith, the former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will be its next president and CEO.

The announcement comes less than a month after Smith stepped down from her role at USAID at the conclusion of the Obama administration on Jan. 20. She will assume her position in late March, according to ONE’s announcement. Smith succeeds former CEO Michael Elliott, who died in July 2016, and interim CEO Adrian Lovett.

“She is a strong, savvy leader with deep expertise and decades of experience working to change the conditions that allow extreme poverty to thrive. With the heart of an activist and the head of a scientist, she seeks data-driven solutions and fights to implement them. Her determination has led her to bridge political divides in America, across Africa, and around the world,” Bono said in the statement.

ONE claims 7.5 million members and works to raise public awareness about poverty and disease-fighting efforts, while pressing political leaders to support them.

The organization is also announcing that it has hired Sally Canfield — the former deputy chief of staff to former Republican presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — as its senior director of U.S. government relations.

Smith’s tenure at USAID lasted just over a year. Her confirmation was delayed seven months, in part by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who blocked all State Department and USAID political nominees in opposition to the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. Smith focused her limited time at the agency on institutionalizing Obama administration initiatives such as Power Africa, the energy development effort, and Feed the Future, the president’s food security initiative.

Prior to leading USAID, Smith served on Obama’s National Security Council as senior director for development and democracy. She also served in the Clinton administration as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs on his National Security Council.

“Gayle is an outstanding choice for ONE. She is always open, candid, and passionate about empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty. She will continue and strengthen ONE’s reputation as a strong, bipartisan advocate here in Washington and around the world,” said Texas Rep. Kay Granger, a prominent republican lawmaker on the appropriations committee.

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About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.