President Barack Obama has nominated Gayle Smith to serve as the top administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the federal agency mainly responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.
If the Senate confirms the nomination, Smith would succeed Rajiv Shah, who left the post in February after serving for five years.
In a statement Thursday, national security adviser Susan Rice described Smith as "a valued colleague and friend."
"Her many years of field experience, including in Africa, as well as her steady leadership, sharp intellect and deep knowledge of international development, make her an exceptionally qualified nominee for USAID administrator," Rice said.
Smith most recently served alongside Rice as senior director for development and democracy on the National Security Council staff, where her responsibilities included global development, democracy and humanitarian assistance issues.
Prior to joining the government, Smith spent more than 20 years in Africa as a journalist covering military, economic and political affairs. She has also been a consultant for a wide range of aid and governmental organizations, including UNICEF and the World Bank.
John Prendergast, founding director of the Enough Project, which Smith co-founded, said Smith "has spent her entire professional life doing work that perfectly prepares her to lead USAID."