WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump has nominated Mark Green, former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, to head the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Trump’s pick for USAID head has been met with bipartisan approval in Congress and broad support from nonprofits in the international affairs arena.
Green has held myriad roles in the public and private sectors. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School, he and his wife taught English in Kenya as volunteers with WorldTeach, a development organization run out of Harvard University. During this time, they traveled extensively throughout East Africa, including western Tanzania.
He served four terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Wisconsin’s 8th district before President George W. Bush appointed him as U.S. ambassador to Tanzania in 2007. During his time in Congress, Green served as a member of the International Relations Committee and played key roles in crafting development agenda bills such as the Millennium Challenge Act and the Global Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Awareness and Treatment Act of 2001.
After serving as ambassador to Tanzania, Green was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the independent U.S. agency leading the fight against global poverty. From 2011 to 2013, he served as senior director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a prominent consortium advocating for increased support for U.S. diplomatic and development efforts around the world. He is currently president of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonpartisan organization promoting freedom and democracy overseas.
“Mark gets what it takes to make foreign assistance work and why these programs are so vital to our national security and economic interests,” Liz Schrayer, president of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The nonprofit believes Green understands that an “America First” policy should also include U.S. leadership in development and diplomacy programs.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomed the announcement of Trump’s pick for USAID head in a statement: “Mark will serve as an outstanding leader for the men and women of USAID, and will work to build a more safe and prosperous global community.” Tillerson also recognized the “vital role” of USAID in “protecting U.S. national security by fostering stability, resolving conflict, responding to humanitarian crises, and ending infectious diseases.”
Green’s unequivocal commitment to foreign assistance is highlighted in a co-authored opinion piece published by The Hill in 2016: “The role of foreign aid and global development — typically an afterthought of national security debates — must be treated as an essential tool of our foreign policy.” He goes on to explain how well-run assistance programs “advance our national interests through humanitarian relief, alliance-building, and economic development.”
Trump’s pick for USAID head comes at a time when the White House has proposed drastic cuts to the U.S. foreign affairs budget. Green, if confirmed by the Senate, will face the difficult challenge of preserving vital USAID programs amidst pressure from the administration to slash international aid.
– Michael Farquharson