Apr 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Ex-UN ambassador Samantha Power confirmed to lead USAID

Samantha Power, wearing glasses, speaks into a microphone
Samantha Power at her confirmation hearing on March 23. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday with a 68-26 vote to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Why it matters: Power's nomination signaled the Biden administration's plans to use foreign assistance as an instrument of soft power as the U.S. has pledged to deliver millions of vaccines and offer aid to countries battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Background: Power served on the National Security Council as former President Obama's special assistant from 2009 to 2013 while working as his senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights. She later served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017.

  • She grappled with the Obama administration's response to Syria's civil war, sanctions against North Korea, Ebola and Russian aggression against Ukraine.
  • As a journalist, she worked as a foreign correspondent in Zimbabwe, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, Kosovo, and East Timor.
  • Her 2002 book on genocide, "A Problem from Hell," won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003.
Go deeper