Samuel J. Heyman Service To America Medals
2003 Finalist
National Security and International Affairs


Holly Wise

Director, Global Development Alliance Secretariat
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, DC


Led a public-private partnership effort that is transforming assistance to the developing world.


Led a public-private partnership effort that is transforming assistance to the developing world.

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It takes creativity and innovation to help transform developing nations while ensuring U.S. taxpayers get the most for their money. As architect and the driving force behind the federal government’s Global Development Alliance (GDA), Holly Wise is at the forefront of that effort.

Since 1961, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped developing nations fight poverty and disease, protect the environment, and promote democracy and economic development. In the early days, approximately 70% of U.S. money flowing to developing countries came from the U.S. government; 30% came from the private sector. Today, that equation is reversed—and then some. Over 80% of U.S. resources now flowing to the developing world come from the private sector. The GDA focuses the U.S. government response to this new reality through organizational transformation, engagement with the private sector and leveraged strategic partnerships. Holly Wise is the driving force behind the GDA.

The GDA is a new approach to foreign aid that mobilizes ideas and resources from the public sector, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to solve complex global development challenges. To date, Wise’s leadership has resulted in 74 new public-private alliances involving over 400 partners, including large firms like ChevronTexaco, Cisco Systems and Home Depot, and smaller firms and overseas businesses. GDA’s many nonprofit partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and small faith-based groups that had not previously worked with USAID.

By investing an initial $186 million in these partnerships, USAID has leveraged another $660 million in contributions from its alliance partners. This new public-private partnership business model stretches the government’s development dollars and puts the best of U.S. generosity, technology and managerial expertise to work for a healthier, more prosperous and safer world.

Secretary of State Colin Powell championed GDA as “USAID’s business model for the 21st century” during his 2001 congressional confirmation hearings. He went on to describe GDA as “a fundamental reorientation in how USAID sees itself in the context of international development assistance, in how it relates to its traditional partners and in how it seeks out and develops alliances with new partners.”

In a federal career spanning 23 years, Wise has had a distinguished record of service and achievement. Before assuming leadership of the Global Development Alliance, she served in progressively more responsible and challenging management positions in challenging assignments in Uganda, Kenya, Barbados and the Philippines, and has received numerous awards for excellence in public service.

Ms. Wise is the architect and leader of what has been described as “a major change in the Agency’s culture…probably the first such major change in almost 40 years.” She puts her vast experience to work as a mentor to numerous young professionals who represent the future of USAID. Through investing in others and building bridges with corporate and non-governmental parties, Ms. Wise is building an army of change agents for this new vision.That vision is bringing American generosity and expertise to the developing world.


Honoree Details

Holly Wise

Director, Global Development Alliance Secretariat
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, DC


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