Smith’s tenure at USAID lasted just over a year. Her confirmation was delayed seven months, in part by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who blocked all State Department and USAID political nominees in opposition to the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. Smith focused her limited time at the agency on institutionalizing Obama administration initiatives such as Power Africa, the energy development effort, and Feed the Future, the president’s food security initiative.
Prior to leading USAID, Smith served on Obama’s National Security Council as senior director for development and democracy. She also served in the Clinton administration as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs on his National Security Council.
“Gayle is an outstanding choice for ONE. She is always open, candid, and passionate about empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty. She will continue and strengthen ONE’s reputation as a strong, bipartisan advocate here in Washington and around the world,” said Texas Rep. Kay Granger, a prominent republican lawmaker on the appropriations committee.