Posted on January 22, 2013 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” I couldn’t help thinking about this correlation over the course of this past weekend. As millions gathered in Washington, D.C.—or watched from around the country and world—Americans marked a peaceful presidential inauguration that demonstrates the proudest American traditions of democracy and public service. The fact that the inauguration coincided with the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day reminded us of the extraordinary power that we all can have to stand up, get involved and generate meaningful change through acts of genuine service in ways both big and small.
This commitment to service defined the weekend.
Saturday’s National Day of Service saw record attendance at the Service Summit on the National Mall. I was so pleased that the Millennium Challenge Corporation had a booth at the Service Summit, along with other federal agencies and over 100 service organizations from across the country. Those who visited the MCC table learned more about our unique approach to economic development. We value our partnerships with the world’s poor because we recognize that our own prosperity and economic strength here at home are linked to the prosperity and economic strength of countries around the world.
I was also pleased to join USAID Administrator Raj Shah for a service project at the DC Armory. There, I joined other volunteers in an effort to assemble 100,000 care kits for members of the military, veterans, those wounded in service, and first responders. It was humbling to contribute in such a small, yet meaningful, way to those who exemplify the best principles of selfless service.
Serving others and doing our part to make our families, communities, country, and world better is more than a cliché. It is what truly motivates so many of us working in government and in international development. When I report to work each day, MCC’s dedicated and passionate employees remind me of this reality. Their stories are proof that lives lived in service to others can make all the difference in the world.
Posted on January 8, 2013 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Yesterday, I had the great honor of representing the American people at the inauguration of John Dramani Mahama as Ghana’s next president. President Barack Obama asked me to lead our country’s official delegation to the inauguration. It was a privilege to stand alongside the other delegation members--U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene Cretz, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Teitelbaum—and witness a peaceful transition of power in Ghana.
Ghanaians traveled from every corner of Ghana to participate in Monday's inauguration; some arrived as early as Sunday night in order to secure a coveted place in Independence Square. In his inauguration speech, President Mahama talked about how a farmer named Tetteh-Quarshie introduced the cocoa bean to Ghana, and today Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world. The president’s point was that every Ghanaian can contribute in a meaningful way to Ghana’s economic development.
I am proud that MCC too played a part in furthering Ghana’s economic development goals. I had been to Ghana previously to assess progress on MCC’s $547 million compact partnership with the country and later to celebrate that compact’s successful completion. The strong political will to deliver on the compact’s promise for sustainable development that would improve the lives of Ghanaians impressed me from the start. As Ghana continues to work on a second MCC compact under the Mahama administration, I welcome this level of engagement and dynamic leadership.
Meeting with President-elect Mahama right before his inauguration as well as with Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Kwabena Duffour during my brief stay in Accra reaffirmed such engagement. I remain encouraged and excited by the commitment to inclusive economic growth and self-sufficiency these leaders envision for Ghana. President Mahama said that the U.S.-Ghana relationship is close and he is looking forward to making it even closer. His administration is hoping to keep Ghana’s economy growing at 8 or 9 percent per year between 2013 and 2016. This will require investments in areas such as infrastructure and energy (the focus of a proposed second MCC compact) as well as agriculture (the focus of Ghana’s first MCC compact) in order to create opportunities for Ghana’s youth.
As the United States prepares for our own presidential inauguration later this month, I recognize that the freedom to choose our leaders and hold them accountable is what unites so many of us around the world in a journey toward democratic values, pluralism and civil liberties. Witnessing what happened in Ghana on Monday with President Mahama’s inauguration affirms our common humanity united by such shared principles.