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ONE names Gayle E. Smith president and chief executive officer

After an extensive worldwide search, the board of The ONE Campaign has named Gayle E. Smith — a top advisor on development issues to two American presidents and one of the world’s leading experts on global development — as president and chief executive officer. ONE is a nonpartisan global anti-poverty organization co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, with offices on three continents. Smith succeeds Michael Elliott, who passed away in July 2016, and Adrian Lovett, who has served as the interim CEO.

Bono, the lead singer of U2 and cofounder of ONE, said:
“We’re excited and delighted that Gayle is coming to ONE. She is a strong, savvy leader with deep expertise and decades of experience working to change the conditions that allow extreme poverty to thrive. With the heart of an activist and the head of a scientist, she seeks data-driven solutions and fights to implement them. Her determination has led her to bridge political divides in America, across Africa, and around the world.

“ONE, with its more than seven million members across the globe, unites people from all walks of life who may disagree on many things, but all agree on one thing: that we cannot turn a blind eye to extreme stupid poverty of the kind that sees a child die for the lack of clean water or basic medication. This is not just a moral issue, but a strategic imperative if we want to create a more stable world. We are honoured Gayle will be our new boss.”

Gayle Smith said:
“Never have there been greater challenges or opportunities on the road to sustainable and equitable development in Africa. I’m thoroughly excited to work with the ONE team and our partners all over the world, particularly in Africa, to achieve the progress that is possible.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12), chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, said:
“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.”

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), ranking member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, said:
“I extend my sincerest congratulations to Administrator Gayle Smith on being named the next president and CEO of The ONE Campaign. Gayle has devoted her entire career to ensuring strong U.S. leadership in global health and development, and she brings decades of expertise in these fields to ONE. It is my honor to partner with Gayle and ONE to accelerate progress in ending extreme poverty and promoting health, education, and equality around the world.”

Donald Kaberuka, former president of the African Development Bank, said:
“Gayle Smith is a first-rate development professional of excellent pedigree. With the phenomenal people at ONE, they make a formidable team with their partners across Africa and the world.”

Tom Freston, chairman of the board of directors of ONE, said:
“We’re ecstatic to welcome Gayle to ONE. We lobby for the world’s poorest citizens, and with Gayle’s expertise and track record of proven bipartisanship, both across the aisle and across the Atlantic, we are upping the ante on our efforts to help the poor, who now face the most consequential humanitarian and security challenges in a generation.

“I also want to express my deep gratitude to Adrian Lovett for his many months of great leadership as interim CEO. In the past year, he has kept us driving towards our mission and he can be very proud of what his team has accomplished, including the successful campaign for The Global Fund, which will save eight million children’s lives. His leadership has been inspirational and ONE is a stronger organization because of it.”

Smith will bring an unparalleled expertise on development and democracy issues, and an extraordinary network of relationships across the African continent and around the world. In her most recent role, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Smith led a staff of more than 10,000 people working to end extreme poverty, foster sustained and inclusive economic growth, and promote resilient, democratic societies all over the world.

Smith had previously served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for development and democracy at the National Security Council, and as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council. Smith also founded the sustainable security program at the Center for American Progress, and co-founded the ENOUGH project and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. She also worked as a journalist and with NGOs in Africa for over 20 years.

Smith takes charge of ONE at a critical time in the fight against extreme poverty. The world has cut extreme poverty by more than half since 1990, but there are still 767 million people living on less than $2.48 CAN. The number of people suffering from chronic hunger has been halved, as well, but 3 million children still die from malnutrition each year. And the world is tantalizingly close to getting ahead of the AIDS epidemic, but AIDS-related illnesses are still the leading cause of death for women ages 15 to 44, globally.

Smith will assume her new role at ONE in late March.


  • ONE is a policy and advocacy organization of more than 7.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE was co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono to raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.
  • ONE has offices in Washington, Ottawa, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Johannesburg, and Abuja.
  • (RED) — a division of The ONE Campaign and headquartered in New York — was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver in 2006 to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. (RED) partners with the world’s most iconic brands that contribute up to 50% of profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to the Global Fund. To date, (RED) has generated more than $465 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. 100 percent of that money goes to work on the ground – no overhead is taken. Global Fund grants that (RED) supports have impacted more than 90 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services.
  • A photo is available here: https://flic.kr/p/56ZZLJ