Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Caribbean nation of Haiti, which is still suffering from the effects of the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, will soon have a new ambassador with extensive experience in economic development. Pamela A. White, who previously served in Haiti as executive director for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs there, was nominated by President Obama on January 23. She has not yet been scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing.
The daughter of Richard and Muriel Murphy, White was born in 1948 in Lewiston, Maine. She grew up in Auburn, where she graduated from Edward Little High School in 1967. She earned a B.A. in Journalism at the University of Maine at Orono in 1971. Later, she attended the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she earned a master’s degree in international development. She also is a 1999 graduate of the international development program at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, DC.
White began her public service as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Cameroon from 1971 to 1973. After working several years in education and research, she joined USAID in 1978. At USAID she served as community liaison officer in Burkina Faso, deputy director executive officer in Senegal and Haiti and executive officer in Haiti, Egypt and South Africa. As deputy director for East Africa in Washington, DC, she coordinated the delivery of food to Ethiopia and Eritrea, helped to develop a six-year strategy for Uganda and oversaw the expansion of programs in Sudan and Congo.
In Mali, White worked as deputy and mission director for USAID from 2001 to 2005. After that she was appointed mission director in Tanzania, where she managed a $130 million aid program focused on HIV/AIDs prevention, malaria control, primary education, conservation of natural resources and control of corruption. She oversaw the start of health initiatives, including the President’s Malaria Initiative, and helped the country receive one of the largest Millennium Challenge Corporation grants. From September 2008 to July 2010, she served as mission director for USAID in Liberia, where she managed the agency’s second largest development budget in Africa, averaging more than $200 million a year. She was then named to her first ambassadorship, to Gambia, where she served starting in October 2010.
White and her husband, Steven Cowper, have two sons. Cowper is also a member of the Foreign Service and has served with USAID.