Neil Boothby

Neil Boothby
Senior Coordinator for the USAID Administrator on Children in Adversity

Neil Boothby is the U.S. Government special adviser and the senior coordinator for the USAID administrator on children in adversity. In his special adviser role, Boothby fulfills the legislative mandate set forth in the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005, which calls for a coordinated, comprehensive and effective response on the part of the U.S. Government to the world’s most vulnerable children.

Under Boothby’s leadership, the first U.S. Government foreign assistance policy for children in adversity was launched at the White House on Dec. 19, 2012. In addition to his interagency coordination efforts, Boothby serves as USAID’s senior expert on children and adversity. In this role, he is spearheading the Agency’s efforts to develop implementation plans for the Action Plan for Children in Adversity in priority countries.

Boothby is on leave of absence from Columbia University, where he is the Allan Rosenfield professor of global health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Boothby’s research has focused on the developmental outcomes of children growing up in abject poverty, war and other adverse environments. Lessons learned from his longitudinal study of child soldiers in Mozambique have been applied to current war-affected countries with large numbers of child soldiers, and incorporated into the Paris Peace Principles. Another focus of his work has been on children separated from their families due to poverty, disasters and armed conflict. His cornerstone study showed that many child-family separations are not accidental, but instead result from misguided policies and agency practices. This observation has been translated into international standards, including those of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Prior to joining Columbia University, Boothby worked with U.N. and NGO agencies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including as the senior coordinator for refugee children with the UNHCR and the director of Save the Children’s children in crisis division.

Boothby’s works on the subject of children and adversity have been published extensively, and he has received a number of academic awards for his scholarship. He has also received a number of awards for his field work, including the Red Cross International Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Mickey Leland Award, and the U.N.’s Global Achievement Award for Excellence in the Social Sector.

Last updated: November 06, 2013

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