June 23, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette.
MFAN is pleased to welcome Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Lester Munson, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff Director, to the reform coalition. Lester Munson and CRS’s Bill O’Keefe, Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, will join MFAN’s Executive Committee.
In addition to being a faith-based organization, CRS has extensive experience in humanitarian contexts and supports programs in 112 countries through local partners addressing food security, health, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods, and other issues. Lester brings a depth of knowledge from his time on Capitol Hill working for Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) as well as in the Executive Branch, serving as Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID under President George W. Bush. Both are leaders in foreign aid reform and have endorsed MFAN’s Guiding Principles for Effective Foreign Assistance, which advocate for a principled approach to reform and call for engagement with Congress and the development community on any reorganization process.
“We are excited to welcome Bill and Lester to the network,” said George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. “CRS delivers life-saving aid in some of the most difficult settings and Bill has witnessed first-hand what effective aid looks like on the ground. Lester is a long-time friend of MFAN and has experience in policy-making from both the legislative and executive side.”
“MFAN’s policy discussions will deepen with the additions of Bill and Lester,” said Connie Veillette, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center. “Each has unique experience and a wealth of knowledge across different areas of development policy.”
“We look forward to working with Bill and Lester as we continue to push for more effective aid,” said Tessie San Martin, MFAN Co-Chair and President and CEO of Plan International USA. “CRS is a valuable international NGO voice that understands the realities in the field, and Lester is a well-respected thought leader both on the Hill and in the development community.”