UPDATE: USAID Administrator Poll Leaders, New Ideas

Nearly a week into the poll we launched on who should be the next USAID Administrator, three names have risen to the top (though fans can still vote for their favorite nominee and change the course of this race!).


Currently leading with 15% of the vote is Nancy Birdsall (left), president of the Washington-based think tank Center for Global Development. Birdsall has worked with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Inter-American Development Bank, and spent 14 years at the World Bank.

She is followed closely by Gayle Smith (center), senior director at the NSC, with 14%. This is Smith’s second stint with the NSC, having previously served under the Clinton Administration. She was most recently with the think tank Center for American Progress and has also worked at USAID.

Right behind her is former Secretary of State Colin Powell (right) at 12%.  Powell served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and later as Secretary of State for President George W. Bush. He also spent time at the Departments of Defense and Energy under President Carter.

Heading up the middle of the pack is former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) at 7%, followed by a four-way tie at 6% — Acting USAID Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, CARE CEO Helene Gayle, and Center for Strategic & International Studies Senior Adviser Ric Barton.

Of course, even with 20 choices in our poll, we are bound to leave somebody out.  In the comments section for our original blog post on the poll, we’ve received some interesting ideas about who else should be considered for the USAID job:

  • Former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, who served under President George W. Bush, was suggested by kitty hempstone, who writes, “Where is Andrew Natsios on this list? He knows the problems, the players and, probably most import [sic] right now, how to get things moving again…”
  • Another name recommended by a couple of respondents is Rufus Phillips, who led a special counterinsurgency effort for USAID in Vietnam. Bert Fraleigh writes, “There is one possible candidate for Administrator who stands head and shoulders above any other American in qualifications and experience and that is Rufus Phillips !!! He carries no adverse political baggage and is available…” Harvey Neese adds in agreement, “The only person I can think of to head the infamous USAID at this time is Rufe Phillips. He knows counterinsurgency which is what is needed with all the turmoil in developing countries.”

Who else should be in the running for USAID Administrator? Let us know now!

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