January 07, 2010

Secretary Clinton Pledges to Work With Nonprofit World

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received mixed reviews for a speech she gave yesterday on how to revamp the U.S. Agency for International Development, which many say is long overdue for an overhaul.

During the speech, Ms. Clinton said the aid agency would work more closely with corporations and nonprofit groups.

“Nonprofits like the Gates Foundation, CARE, Oxfam International, and the Clinton Foundation bring their own resources, deep knowledge, extensive networks, and commitment to humanitarian missions that complement our work in critical ways,” she said.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, applauded her speech, praising her focus on measuring the results of government antipoverty efforts and doing more to help women and girls in impoverished nations.

But Bill Easterly, a professor at New York University, panned it, saying the speech “was not all bad, but it still contained plenty of nonsense and overly political thinking.”

While it remains unclear what exactly the changes at the aid agency will mean for nonprofit groups and others, Ms. Clinton’s pick to run the organization has ties to the foundation world.

The new head of the agency, Rajiv Shah, formerly led the agriculture program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He will be officially sworn in today.

While some have questioned Mr. Shah’s relative inexperience and age — he’s 36 — he has won over some of his skeptics, according to the National Journal.

What do you think? How can the U.S. Agency for International Development better work with foundations and charities?