Yohannes’ Testimony at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing

Following President Obama’s nomination in September, today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a  hearing that included Daniel W. Yohannes, nominee as CEO for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).  Yohannes brings over thirty years of experience in managing businesses and ensuring positive results that directly benefit the developing world.   In his testimony, Yohannes notes how this past experience has made him believe in the promise and opportunity offered through U.S. assistance and aid programs.  Still, he recognizes the need for reform:

“We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty.  It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership, to deliver smart aid that matters.  By encouraging sound policies, country-led development, and sustainable results, MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.  If confirmed, I want to transfer my skills—in management, negotiations, problem-solving, and consensus-building—to promote economic growth in such an accountable, transparent, and sustainable way.   Smart development assistance that delivers results must be the foundation of effective U.S. global engagement.”

Below is Yohannes’ complete testimony from today’s hearing:

Remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Daniel W. Yohannes

November 4, 2009

Thank you, Chairman Menendez, and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for your gracious welcome.

It is a privilege to be here as President Obama’s nominee to serve as the next Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, dedicated to fighting global poverty.  I appreciate the confidence of the President and Secretary of State in my abilities.  And, I am grateful for your consideration of my nomination.

Americans can be very proud of this country’s exceptional work to lift the burden of deep-seated poverty that stifles opportunity for millions around the planet.  I’ve helped deliver assistance to those in need.  I know the meaningful and measurable impact every dollar—every container of food or medical supplies—can have on their lives.

I believe in opportunity.  I come from one of the poorest countries on Earth.  Ethiopia has experienced its share of devastation and instability.  It knows all too well the pain of entrenched poverty.  I grew up with poor neighbors who wondered if they would eat that day or if they could afford immunizations. I came to the United States at the age of 17, determined to persevere against all challenges.  If confirmed, I would be proud to give back to the country that has given me so much by doing my part to expand opportunities for the world’s poorest.  It would be an honor to serve America, the country I love very dearly, by partnering with those countries around the world that need our help the most.

We can only have a serious conversation about reducing poverty and fostering sustainable economic growth if we are seriously committed to promoting a global culture of opportunity.  This allows individuals, families, and whole communities to chart a more hopeful future.

With 30 years of professional experience managing complex projects and complex businesses, I believe opportunities need to deliver results, not just promises.  I worked in an industry that gave individuals the means to start a business, or send their children to college, or buy a place to call home.

My work with entrepreneurs supported their ideas, fostering growth in their communities.   I have seen firsthand how giving people a credible opportunity can generate sustainable, self-generating growth that improves their lives and their communities.  If confirmed, I welcome the challenge—and the enormous opportunity—to do so on behalf of the U.S. Government through MCC’s work.

We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty.  It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership, to deliver smart aid that matters.  By encouraging sound policies, country-led development, and sustainable results, MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.  If confirmed, I want to transfer my skills—in management, negotiations, problem-solving, and consensus-building—to promote economic growth in such an accountable, transparent, and sustainable way.   Smart development assistance that delivers results must be the foundation of effective U.S. global engagement.

The opportunity to lead MCC as part of this effort is one I welcome.  It is one I would fulfill with passion and humility.  Should I be confirmed, I will work as a good emissary for MCC to partners around the world, to the U.S. Congress, and to stakeholders.

With the input of MCC’s professionals, the board of directors, the development community, partner countries, the private sector as a growth multiplier, and Members of this Committee and Congress as a whole, I am confident that MCC’s anti-poverty partnerships worldwide will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity.

And, this is fundamental to enhancing our collective security and common humanity for a more prosperous, peaceful world.

Thank you for your consideration of my nomination, and I would be happy to answer your questions.

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