We were shocked and saddened by the news that Dana Hyde lost her life in an accident last week.
Dana Hyde showed tremendous leadership and wisdom as the fourth head of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), serving for nearly three years during President Obama’s second term. These brief notes on her leadership are our way of providing a tribute to her major contributions to MCC’s effectiveness and impact, and to her friendship to us at the Center for Global Development. We provide these notes also as a form of condolences to her family.
Dana took the reins of MCC in 2014—and helped the agency celebrate its 10th birthday. She took the anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on the agency’s record of success while scouting new opportunities in pursuit of its mission to reduce poverty through economic growth.
Embracing both tasks, she brought fidelity to the agency’s special model—lending only to countries that met key standards based on independent, third-party assessments, including on corruption and political rights. That included tough decisions during her tenure to suspend compacts when governments backtracked on these core governance standards. Dana also upheld another foundational principle of the model: transparency and evidence-based aid decisions. But she also wasn’t afraid to venture into new territory.
- CGD had the privilege of hosting Dana in April 2015, where she made public her commitment to exploring results-based financing. “The two key, core elements of MCC’s model—a bedrock commitment to country ownership and accountability for results focus—lend themselves very well to a pay-for-results approach.” This line of effort was launched during her tenure with programs in Sierra Leone and Morocco.
- She lent a strong voice to the agency’s efforts to secure congressional authorization for concurrent country compacts that would position MCC to make regional investments intended to facilitate greater economic growth. Lawmakers finally passed legislation in 2018, and MCC signed its first regional compact last year.
- Under Dana’s leadership, MCC elevated its work on gender equality. The agency committed to publishing gender-disaggregated data and talked openly about lessons learned in the process.
- As CEO, Dana was proactive in launching discussions about the challenges the agency was beginning to face with respect to its country candidate pool (including at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where one of us also testified), a live and difficult issue with which MCC and Congress are still grappling.
Dana upheld MCC standards and she also set the standard herself for leadership that embodies the smartest, most effective, and most principled kind of public service.
Nancy Lee served as deputy CEO of MCC during Dana Hyde’s tenure as CEO.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.