USAID - U.S. Agency for International Development

06/14/2024 | Press release | Archived content

Administrator Samantha Power at a Swearing-in Ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to Cabo Verde Jennifer Adams

ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER:Good afternoon, everybody. This is such a wonderful, celebratory way to end a week. And I want to thank all of you for coming and showing your support to Jennifer [Adams]. Thank you, [Deputy Assistant Secretary] Michael [Heath] for being a great partner, USAID, and the State Department's Africa Bureau work hand in glove together, all over the world.

You should take this, Michael, as proof of concept people do get confirmed for Ambassadorships. I think we have evidence of it here today. It may take a while, but it does happen. And it really is special thanks to Assistant Secretary [Molly] Phee for coming here. And with her presence, showing how important this position is, how important, as well, the USAID partnership is.

We love it when we see our incredible mission directors and USAID leaders who have so much experience in development, when development is now so central to American foreign policy - when we see these leaders elevated in this way, and they have the chance to be part of bringing the three Ds together: defense, development, and diplomacy - and we know Jennifer's gonna do an incredible job of that.

I also want to join Michael in thanking [Deputy Chief of Mission] Dulce Fernandez, from the Embassy in Cabo Verde here in Washington. Thank you for all you are doing to advocate on behalf of your people. We really value this partnership with your country.

Thank you to Jennifer's family. We are joined here today by two of her three sons. Kelly, say hello, Kelly. And Eugene, thank you for your service, Eugene, really grateful for it. We have her uncle Joe here with us, say hello, her brother in law, Robert Eugene and sister in law, Evelyn. And of course we have with us, Jennifer's husband, Wayne, who also serves here at State as a medical officer. So, thank you, Wayne, for your service. And, thank you, all of you really for supporting Jennifer as she has served around the world, you sacrifice a lot to be part of a family that performs this kind of work. But I know you know the good that she has done in her various postings, none of which she could have done without you.

I'm told that when Jennifer was serving as Mission Director in Maputo, and Wayne was posted with the State Department in Johannesburg, Jennifer would jump in her car on Friday afternoon and drive the seven hours from Mozambique to South Africa, to spend weekends with Wayne - 14 hours in the car for just two days together. I think that counts as true love. So, thank you both again for the sacrifice.

Jennifer's career, as so many of you know, has spanned two decades at USAID. And in these 20 years, she has demonstrated again and again her creativity, her innovation, and her leadership. Her career has taken her from Beijing to Brazil, from Central Asia to Senegal. She has embodied the spirit of development diplomacy, bringing partners together to build partnerships that are even greater than the sum of their parts.

This was on full display during her tenure as Mission Director in Brazil back in 2008. At the time, many of the American companies that were working in Brazil were investing in local communities, both as part of Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, but also as a strategic move to invest in the education, training, and support that would help young people build out the workforces that these companies needed. But the efforts were largely uncoordinated, both among the companies and with the different development organizations that were working toward that same mission.

So the work was often piecemeal, and duplicative. Jennifer worked with these businesses to found an organization called Mais Unidos, or more united, which brought together 50 American and multinational companies - a cohort that today includes Microsoft, Hilton, and the Bank of America to coordinate efforts between both themselves and USAID. Together, these organizations coordinate on everything from supporting education, to promoting women's empowerment, to driving sustainable development in the Amazon. And, they specifically offer training that people need to get jobs with those participating companies, training in languages or in technology classes.

Since it was founded, Mais Unidos has educated over three million students through its programming and helped thousands connect to employment opportunities, many with the companies that make up the organization, and this is something Jennifer is very famous for at USAID, which is seeing that which doesn't exist but as needed.

Jennifer's development diplomacy was evident again in Mozambique. She entered into the country at a time when the government's relationships with development partners were very tense. And, indeed, communication with donors had apparently all but ceased. Jennifer knew that with three out of four people in Mozambique living in extreme poverty, the donor dialogue simply had to restart - the stakes were too high. So she worked with the director of the World Bank to engage Mozambique's Ministry of Finance, to restart the conversations.

Together, they formed what was called the Development Cooperation Platform, the system that provided the basis for information sharing and collaboration. This happened, as it happened, just before COVID-19 pandemic began. And it was because of that warming, and that opening and the creation of that platform, and that renewed collaboration that USAID and the government of Mozambique, were able to work together to address urgent issues like distributing vaccines, restarting health services, and reopening schools.

Jennifer can be so effective in part because she takes the time to listen and to really learn and appreciate the places that she serves. She comes to know the terrain, she comes to know the people, the art, and the culture. She empowers local staff in the case of USAID Foreign Service Nationals, the case now in the broader Embassy community, the locally employed staff, the LESes.

You can find Jennifer apparently running to and from work - that is not just hustling but actually running, jogging - taking a swim during her lunch break, hiking the local trail, or visiting whatever museum is nearby. As one colleague says, if there's one word to describe Jennifer, it would be curiosity. She is genuinely curious about cultures, histories, people and their stories.

These skills - Jennifer's proven ability to bring people together, her propensity for building consensus and working together to get results, and her deep curiosity about all of the people and places she encounters - will make her an exceptional ambassador to Cabo Verde.

Cabo Verde is a really important partner for the United States. The country has a strong democracy at a time when democracy is facing major challenges around the world. It has an active civil society, and a robust and growing economy.

Of course, as an island country in an era of very extreme weather changes and, of course, of climate change, Cabo Verde faces challenges like adapting to rising sea levels and bolstering its maritime security. But it is really impressive to see what the people of Cabo Verde have achieved - transitioning from being the least developed country to a lower-middle income country in 2007. A transition that is very, very challenging for a lot of countries to make because of the ramifications for assistance and the like. And the great strides it has made since then in strengthening its investment environment, reforming its financial institutions, and improving its infrastructure.

Jennifer is exactly the person the United States needs to support the Cabo Verdean people as they continue to chart the country's inspiring path.

So thank you so much for being here to celebrate Jennifer, we look forward to hearing from her. But before we do that, we have the great privilege of making it official. And Jennifer, we would like to invite Wayne to join you up here on the stage where I want to privilege, on behalf of the Secretary [Antony Blinken] and the President [Joe Biden] and Assistant Secretary Phee, of swearing you in for this incredibly important post. Thank you so much.