You have the most compelling vision: to end severe poverty in two decades. That’s worth dedicating your life to. —Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company
CARLA KOPPELL, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER It has been interesting to watch the revitalization of the Agency, its brand, and its role in foreign policy. I came into the Agency in 2010 with the mandate of ensuring that our commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment was woven into USAID’s DNA. It is an essential component of getting development right. When Raj invited me to become Chief Strategy Officer, I thought it was a very important function to fulfill to make sure our change agenda actually stuck. I embraced the opportunity to focus not only on the immediate and urgent but also the long-term and strategic. Defining our mission statement and core values was one incredibly important component of fostering an esprit de corps and a shared sense of purpose. Through a bottom-up process, we wanted to shape a common goal that had people excited to come to work and empowered to amplify our message. The process itself was started by our former Counselor Dave Eckerson, who organized focus groups and conducted an Agencywide survey to solicit new ideas. From there, I worked with Alex Thier and Chuck Cooper to actually write a draft. We used it as a straw man for another round of consultations that were open to the entire Agency. By the end, well over 2,000 people had participated in the process—at least 25% of USAID. I was reading over my briefing materials on my recent flight to Uganda. The Mission in Kampala wrote a Leadership and Accountability Charter that, lo and behold, wove our core values into their tailored vision. In Ghana, the Mission hung in their entryway a fantastic plaque with our mission statement and core values because they felt it resonated with them. Seeing our staff embrace the mission statement as their own has been really rewarding. It does matter to people.
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Through the Administrator’s Leadership Council, we have connected the mission, core values, and approach to a management agenda that encourages accountability and collaboration. As a result of bi-weekly conversations, we all know the priorities across the Agency, and we are able to be more responsive to one another’s concerns and challenges. People appreciate the affirmative effort to ensure we are delivering results. As Chief of Staff Margie Sullivan used to say, “USAID needs to be positive and proud.” We are integral to U.S. foreign policy, and we will continue to proactively promote that agenda.