In January 2021, Mahmoud Bah was appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer of MCC. In more than 10 years at MCC, Mahmoud has occupied various positions, including his most recent one leading the team for MCC’s Regional Portfolio. Previously, Mahmoud spent three years in Côte d’Ivoire as MCC’s Resident Country Director overseeing the implementation of the agency’s $525 million Côte d’Ivoire Compact. We recently had a conversation about his career, his time at MCC, and what celebrations of diversity such as Black History Month mean to him in the context of his work.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to MCC?
My family is from Guinea but I was born and raised in Togo. I came to the U.S. for college and ended up staying and becoming a U.S. citizen. I cherish and value the decision I made to become a citizen of this country and am proud to serve it as a government employee. I live in Bethesda, Maryland with my wife and have three children- two daughters, ages 11 and 13, and a son who is 9 years old. I was drawn to MCC because of its mission to reduce poverty through economic growth. MCC does that in a methodical and data driven manner.
What are you most focused on for MCC in the coming weeks and months?
MCC’s underlying value is its mission-driven staff, so my priority is to ensure the team has the support needed to move forward with developing and implementing our core programs around the world. In the current pandemic context, the health and safety of our staff and partners remains a priority, both at home and overseas.
I am also focused on ensuring a smooth transition and setting our new leaders up for success. We have an impressive leadership group joining us from the Biden Administration and I look forward to welcoming other members of our team as they are appointed.
What inspires you as you take on this role?
Our model is built on partnership, and I am inspired by the commitment and hard work our country partners bring to the table. That has been especially true in this past year of the pandemic.
I’m also honored to be acting in a leading capacity at the agency during Black History Month 2021 and in the wake of the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. MCC has always placed great value on diversity and our staff brings a broad range of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives to the agency. This appreciation for diversity is reflected in our core agency values, which explain how we respect individuals and ideas. It is also reflected in our work with our partner countries—several of which have historic ties to slavery—and in our strong emphasis on country ownership and democratic values, where inclusion extends to the most marginalized and underserved populations.
Black History Month strikes a personal note with me, as someone of African origin who came to the United States as a student. My life was shaped by American values of hard work, freedom, and believing in opportunity for all. Yet, given my close connections to Africa, I am conscious of what it has cost to achieve the freedom that we have today. I know that I would not have been successful without the efforts of Black Americans who paved the way before me. It is important for me to always remember that and pay it forward through acts of kindness and mentoring to help others achieve their own personal and professional goals.