By Mary Hearty

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Henrietta Fore resigns to attend to a family health issue.

In a tweet on July 13, 2021, she said: “With a heavy heart, I have informed the UN Secretary –General and our Executive President of my decision to step down as the UNICEF Executive Director in order to devote my energy to my husband’s serious health issue.”

“I have promised the Secretary-General that I will continue until conclusion of the Executive Board and the UN General Assembly in September and will remain as UNICEF Executive Director until my successor has been chosen. In the meantime, let us finalize our Strategic Plan for the coming quadrennium, help countries access and roll out vaccines so that children everywhere can access services and return safely to schools, and further accelerate our work in both humanitarian and development contexts to ensure a bright future for every child,” she said.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General through his spokesperson said that he fully understands her decision and has accepted it, with deep regret. He extended his thanks and his best wishes to Executive Director Fore and her family.

“The Secretary-General wishes to express his sincere appreciation to Fore for her inspiring leadership of UNICEF and for her service to improve the lives of children all around the world. In particular, he noted UNICEF’s critical role in the global response to Covid-19 and in reimagining education,” the statement noted.

He further stated that as a result of her leadership, UNICEF is now an organization with a broader array of public and private sector partnerships and a bolder focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

She becomes UNICEF’s seventh Executive Director having been appointed in January, 2018. She has worked to champion economic development, education, health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in a public service, private sector and non-profit leadership career that spans more than four decades.

From 2007 to 2009, Fore served as the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Director of United States Foreign Assistance. The first woman to serve in these roles, she was responsible for managing $39.5 billion of U.S. foreign assistance annually, including support to peoples and countries recovering from disaster and building their futures economically, politically and socially.

Earlier in her career at USAID, she was appointed Assistant Administrator for Asia and Assistant Administrator for Private Enterprise (1989-1993). She served on the Boards of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In 2009, she received the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award the Secretary of State can bestow.

Fore also served as Under Secretary of State for Management, the Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of State from 2005 to 2007. She was responsible for the staff, resources, facilities, technology and security of the Department and was the Secretary of State’s principal adviser on management issues. She oversaw a management budget of $3.6 billion, 7,200 employees, 30,000 contractors and 267 embassies and posts in 172 countries.

From 2001 to 2005, Fore was the 37th Director of the United States Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury, managing the world’s largest manufacturer of coins, medals and coin products. In 2005, she received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Department of Treasury’s highest honor.

Immediately prior to her appointment with UNICEF,  Fore was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Holsman International, a manufacturing and investment company. She also served on the boards of a number of domestic and international public corporations, including as Global Co-chair of the Asia Society, Chair of the Middle East Investment Initiative, and Co-Chair of Women Corporate Directors. She also served on the boards of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Aspen Institute, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) and the Center for Global Development (CGD).