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Nancy Lee is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her work at CGD focuses on the role of development banks in mobilizing private finance and increasing development impact. Previously, she was the deputy chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative, independent US aid agency that fights poverty through country compacts that support inclusive growth. Key MCC attributes are rigorous country selection, country ownership of compacts, data-driven resource allocation, results accountability, and transparency.
Prior to joining MCC, Dr. Lee was the general manager (CEO) of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Bank’s laboratory for private sector-led development and a key impact investor in the region. Under Dr. Lee's leadership, the MIF launched initiatives in lending to women-owned SMEs; a public-private partnership to scale youth job training programs; a program to introduce social impact bonds to the region; innovative climate finance models; and a crowdsourcing platform for development solutions.
Previously, Dr. Lee served at the US Treasury Department, where she was deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere and for Europe and Eurasia. She led Treasury’s work to put financial inclusion, SME finance, and women’s access to finance on the G20 agenda. She co-chaired the G20 SME Finance Group and led the development of the G20 SME Finance Challenge and the SME Finance Innovation Fund. She was a Treasury negotiator in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Dr. Lee is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Tufts University and a BA in economics from Wellesley College.
Two bills just introduced in the Senate and the House, both called the Economic Growth and Development Act, take on a central challenge in US development policy and programs: lack of collaboration to mobilize private investment among the 12 departments, 26 agencies, and more than 60 federal government offices involved in delivering aid.
On April 11, the World Bank's International Development Association broke new ground by establishing a private sector window (PSW) with $2.5 billion in resources. For the first time, IDA will use public funds to catalyze private investments in poor countries, in addition to concessional lending to their governments.
Many in the development community lament that we have failed on two counts: broad audiences don’t know about unprecedented progress in poverty reduction and human development indicators in recent decades, and, if they do know, they don’t see the connection between aid programs and such progress. Despite strongs efforts on the part of development institutions to measure results, it remains hard to articulate them in a way that is compelling to nontechnical audiences—taxpayers who absolutely deserve to understand why and how development dollars are making a difference.
The debate at a recent CGD event eloquently demonstrated once again that this is a moment of deep uncertainty and basic disagreement about the future and purpose of aid programs and development agencies. But even more risk is introduced into this perilous mix if we fail to understand what we already have in the toolkit and how these tools can be used to meet needs.
With fundamental questions being raised these days about the nature and value of US foreign assistance, it is all the more critical that the Center for Global Development continues to play a leadership role in bringing evidence and analysis to the US policy agenda. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce three new hires that will enable us to up our game across the board and move into critical new areas of US policy.
CGD recently hosted a high-level roundtable discussion on whether and how the World Bank and other multilateral development banks can help jump-start an expanded market for country risk management tools--insurance and other hedging mechanisms--to manage a broad spectrum of risks, ranging from macroeconomic volatility and natural disasters to trade, liquidity, and currency shocks. CGD visiting fellow Nancy Lee, who until recently worked as a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Treasury, reports on some unexpected obstacles and offers her views on how the MDBs can best partner with the private sector in this effort.