Indian-American Sonali Korde takes oath as assistant to USAID administrator
New York, Feb 13 (IANS) Indian-American Sonali Korde took oath as assistant to the Administrator of USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) on Monday.
As the US government's lead for international disaster response, the BHA monitors, mitigates, and responds to global hazards and humanitarian needs.
Sonali most recently served as Deputy to the US Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues charged with leading the country's diplomacy efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
"Leading the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance is one of the toughest jobs at USAID. It's a time of peak global conflict, climate-driven disasters, and displacement, and we all know the demand for aid is dramatically outpacing our ability to provide it," USAID Administrator Samantha Power said in a statement.
"BHA needs a leader who can deftly navigate bureaucracy to mount efficient responses, who has the personal skills, the Congressional connections, and the budgeting experience, to be a powerful advocate for people in need... And someone who can cultivate, nurture, and empower teams to step up and meet the moment. That describes Sonali: uniquely Sonali, unique Sonali," Power said.
Power said that Sonali's Indian immigrant parents, who attended the swearing-in ceremony virtually, "endowed her with a deep appreciation for a world outside of their Cranford, New Jersey home".
She praised Sonali's "strong sense of justice and a desire to address inequity and unfairness" which, she said, comes from her parents.
"They took frequent trips back to India where Sonali saw a tale of two countries, such incredible dynamism and burgeoning intellect, culture, but also such extreme poverty which persists in many parts of the country -- even with all of the success lifting so many hundreds of millions of people out of poverty -- but seeing people with and people without," Power said.
According to the BHA, Sonali brings extensive experience in legislative affairs, national security policy, global health, and humanitarian aid.
Before joining BHA, Sonali served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Office of the Administrator at USAID, and prior to that as Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID's Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs.
In this role, she provided strategic and operational oversight of USAID's engagement with the U.S. Congress, including negotiation of USAID legislative and budget issues with members of Congress, their committees, and staff.
Having worked for USAID in various roles since 2004, she has a background in legislative affairs, national security policy, infectious diseases and emergency humanitarian response, and global health, the BHA said.
From 2019-2020, Sonali served as Senior Policy Advisor on the Ebola response in Eastern Congo as well as Deputy Director for Coordination on the Covid-19 response.
Korde has an MA in International Relations from Yale University and a BS in Economics from New York University.