The international development community has been sitting at the edge of its seat as the White House deliberates who should lead the U.S. aid mission. Meanwhile, the rumor mill is chugging out more names of potential nominees. The latest are Carlos Pascual, Jane Holl Lute and Raymond Offenheiser.
Oxfam America President Ray Offenheiser "is the dark horse candidate and the best candidate," says Steven Hansch, a fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration.
A recognized leader in the nonprofit sector, Offenheiser has affiliations with many prominent institutions, including the Ford Foundation, Save the Children, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
What may set the Cornell University and University of Notre Dame alumnus apart from his competition?
"Of all the candidates who are being discussed, Ray Offenheiser strikes me as being the most balanced," Hansch says. "One of the areas of balance is the depth of his experience. He's been doing this the longest and the most independently."
Earlier this year, Devex interviewed Offenheiser about his ideas for U.S. aid reform.
Jane Holl Lute
Lute has what many regard as essential for the USAID nominee: She's already been vetted and voted on.
Hansch described the current deputy secretary of homeland security as being "absolutely brilliant and fantastic."
Lute, who has more than 30 years government experience and, apparently, personal ties to former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, entered her current post in April 2009. Prior to that, she served as the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peace-building support, and worked under presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton on the National Security Council. Lute holds a doctoral degree in political science from Stanford University and has a law degree from Georgetown University.
Recently confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Pascual received his master's and bachelor of arts and from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Stanford University, respectively.
He has worked in Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique as USAID foreign service officer and proceeded to work as deputy assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia at the State Department.
Before his current diplomatic post, Pascual served as the vice president and director of the foreign policy studies program at the Brookings Institution. He was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2000 to 2003.
Apart from Pascual and Holl Lute, the Center for Global Development has suggested others in the running for the coveted position, including Maria Otero, Aaron Williams and Jack Lew.
Many development experts are disappointed with the delay in announcing the new chief.
"I'm a big Obama supporter, but I think this is a position that should have been filled long ago," says Marion Connell, a retired federal official.
Until the big announcement is made, the wait continues, and the rumor mill will keep spinning.