USAID’s Beers provides ‘tremendous’ leadership during response to Ebola outbreak

The Partnership for Public Service recently named Mia Beers as a 2015 Sammies finalist for leading the U.S. Agency for International Development Ebola Disaster ...

Mia Beers, led the 40-person U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team, that arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, last November. Her job was to oversee the work of thousands of U.S. personnel from five different agencies who were assigned to four different countries.

“Mia landed on the ground and helped to create order out of chaos,” said Nancy Lindborg, former USAID assistant administrator. “She crafted the strategy into which everyone could plug.”

The Ebola outbreak in Liberia reached its peak between September and October 2014. At that time, U.S. personnel were dealing with 300 new confirmed cases per week. That number dropped to about 30 a week by December

Ebola was at its peak in Liberia in September and October of 2014, with about 300 new confirmed cases a week. By December, they were down to about 30 per week.

Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, said Beers provided tremendous leadership during that time.

“This outbreak eclipsed the deaths of all previous outbreaks put together,” he said. “It was just staggering.”

For her work in providing leadership during this difficult time, the Partnership for Public Service recently named Beers and the Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team as finalists for the 2015 National Security and International Affairs Medal. The award recognizes federal employees who have made important contributions in the area of national security and international affairs. This includes defense, diplomacy, military affairs, foreign assistance and trade.


Federal News Radio asked each of the Sammies finalists questions about themselves. Here are Beers’ responses:

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Vision, integrity, moral courage.

What’s the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
Early in my career, I was working in Somalia for a local NGO. The work was difficult, and several of us were grappling with some tough challenges. It was during this time that a colleague of mine made the following remark: “Leadership is more than vision, it’s about action.  Extraordinary leaders are true to themselves and others, standing up for what they believe in and supporting their team.” Those words of wisdom — given to me during difficult circumstances — have always stayed with me.

What’s the last thing you read and what’s next on your reading list?
The last meaningful book I read was “I Am Malala“, which is the story of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 after she vocally spoke up against the Taliban for her right to receive an education. She miraculously recovered and then went on to become a champion for girls education. I found the story quite moving and inspiring. But between juggling work demands, family life and keeping current on global events, I unfortunately don’t have a lot of free time to devote to reading, though I do have a large stack of books just waiting to be read.

Who would you most like to have lunch with and why?
If I could go back in time, it would be wonderful to have a conversation with President John F. Kennedy, who was the visionary behind creating the office that would eventually become USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, where I currently work. We just had our 50th anniversary last year, and it would be interesting to talk to President Kennedy about our Office — to hear his thoughts about the work we are doing to meet global humanitarian challenges and to see if we surpassed the expectations of what he originally envisioned.

The National Security and International Affairs Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a photo gallery of all the Sammies nominees.

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