I just came from an energizing all-hands town hall meeting with Kenya’s USAID and State Department staff.

I also had the chance to visit a small group of our dedicated Foreign Service Nationals, Kenyans employed by the Mission. These professionals comprise roughly half of our workforce. They are the core of this Agency and the key to what we do.  I’m committed to investing more resources in their success: more growth pathways, skill-building workshops and exchange programs that put them in touch with colleagues in other countries.

This is I something emphasized to everyone here: You all are professionals.  You are the experts. You are development entrepreneurs.

We need to enable our people to do their best work, with the resources they need, and the freedom to take risks.

To do this, we’ll need to make some changes in the way we do business — reducing the burden of operational planning to free up time and energy for what we’re here to do. Improving monitoring and evaluation and being more transparent about success and failure. Modernizing our human resources practices and reforming our procurement model so we can be better partners and build local capacity.

It’s an ambitious agenda. But one that’s essential.