UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore resigns for family health issue

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has accepted the resignation of Henrietta Fore as executive director of UNICEF with deep regret, praising her “inspiring leadership” as head of the U.N. children’s agency.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Tuesday that Guterres “fully understands” Fore’s decision “to devote herself to a family health issue.” She is married and has four children.

Fore, an American public health and international development executive who was the first woman to head the U.S. Agency for International Development took up the leadership of UNICEF on Jan. 1, 2018.

The secretary-general thanked Fore “for her outstanding work to address the extraordinary challenges facing children and young people around the world” and improve their lives, noting “UNICEF’s critical role in the global response to COVID-19 and in reimagining education,” spokesman Haq said.

“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 U.N. development goals for 2030, Haq said. “She has also contributed enormously to efforts to build a U.N. system with a much stronger focus on inclusion and organizational culture.”

Fore’s previous career included running several companies, serving as director of the U.S. Mint from 2001-2005, as U.S. undersecretary of state for management from 2005-2007, and as USAID administrator from 2007-2009 during the administration of then President George W. Bush.

Haq said Fore will remain at UNICEF until a successor is chosen.

UNICEF’s executive director is appointed by the U.N. secretary-general in consultation with the executive board of the organization. The United States is the largest funder of UNICEF and the job has traditionally gone to an American.