Earl Gast was sworn in as the assistant administrator for Africa in April 2012. In this capacity, he oversees a large and varied portfolio that provided $6.4 billion in assistance to 49 African countries in 2011. He has a 21-year history working at USAID and leading meaningful development programming, especially in post-conflict and transitioning societies.
Prior to this appointment, Gast served as USAID's mission director in Afghanistan, overseeing the Agency's largest overseas program, which was providing $4 billion in assistance to increase stability through agriculture, economic development, education and governance. After returning from Afghanistan, Gast served as acting mission director for Colombia. From 2005 to 2008, Gast was the regional mission director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, and from 2008 to 2010 he was USAID's senior deputy assistant administrator for Africa. He served as the USAID representative to the U.N. agencies in Rome in 2004.
Gast was one of the first USAID employees stationed in Iraq, where, as the mission's deputy director from April 2003 to March 2004, he helped launch operations and manage a $2.2 billion reconstruction program in the conflict-riddled country. He played an equally important role in developing the post-crisis strategy for Kosovo, where he served from June 2002 to April 2003 as deputy director overseeing all mission operations. From 2000 to 2002, Gast was the supervisory program officer for USAID's Caucasus regional mission, following his work assuming supervisory program officer responsibilities for USAID's Ukraine regional mission in 1996. In 1995, Gast was an advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Russia in a special office created by the U.S. Ambassador.
Gast began his career with USAID in 1990 as a project development officer for USAID/Philippines. He has received numerous awards and commendations for his dedicated service. Most prominently, he received the Agency's Award for Heroism in 2004 and, in 2003, the Distinguished Unit Award for his work in Iraq. Gast also received the C. Herbert Rees Award in 1999.
Gast received a master's degree in political science and Middle East studies in 1987 from George Washington University. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in history and criminal law. He speaks Russian and Arabic in addition to his native English.