President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday named former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power to be administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, a position Biden says will be elevated in importance under his administration.
USAID administers U.S. food aid and agricultural development programs. “As USAID Administrator, Ambassador Power will be a powerful force for lifting up the vulnerable, ushering in a new era of human progress and development, and advancing American interests globally,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden also signaled his intent to bolster the influence of USAID by announcing that the administrator will also be a member of the National Security Council.
U.S. farm groups and hunger advocates have rallied in recent months for the USAID to take a stronger role in helping to feed the neediest around the globe where the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and economies. The U.S. provides more than $2 billion worth of food - in the form of cash or local food purchases and actual U.S.-grown commodities – for international humanitarian aid per year.
Power reacted sharply in response to efforts by the Trump administration to zero out funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program as well as the USAID-USDA Food for Peace program.
“The food program Trump would eliminate is largest funding source for international food aid,” she tweeted in 2018. “Programs like these cost very little and generate big support for the U.S. around the world.”
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Power, said Marshall Matz, chairman of OFW Law in Washington, will play a major role in representing the U.S. on the international stage.
“Samantha Power will greatly increase the status of AID around the world and is a symbol of global cooperation,” said Matz, also a board member for the World Food Program, Food Research Action Center and Congressional Hunger Center.
And Power, a former war correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize for a book on the history of genocide, signaled she is eager to get to work.
“At this critical moment, I feel immensely fortunate to have the chance to serve again, working with the incredible USAID team to confront COVID-19, climate change, humanitarian crises and more,” she tweeted Wednesday.