Media CenterCRS Urges Passing of Locally-Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, March 20, 2024 – Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international aid agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, issued the following statement about the bipartisan and bicameral Locally-Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act, which was introduced in the House yesterday by Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-CA) and Cory Mills (R-FL) and approved in the House Foreign Affairs Committee today by voice vote. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced the bill in the Senate yesterday as well.

“Catholic Relief Services wholeheartedly supports the objectives of locally-led development and humanitarian response; international assistance must include a shift to more direct funding and more genuine empowerment of local organizations as they implement, evaluate and lead their own development. Over multiple administrations, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has made efforts to varying degrees of success to strengthen local organizations capacity and increase resource allocation to local entities. Lack of agreement and of will across implementing agencies, Congress and USAID have prevented lasting change.

Last year, I testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that humanitarian and development assistance are at a crossroads. In one direction, we can continue to do what we have done for decades – underestimating and underinvesting in local organization, directing the vast majority of assistance to international organizations and international implementing partners. In the other direction, we can seize momentum and advance more locally-led development and humanitarian response. The second path, exemplified through this piece of legislation, will improve aid efficiency and effectiveness, lead to more sustainable programs and provide a foundation for more resilient systems.

We thank Rep. Jacobs and Mills, as well as Sens. Coons, Ernst, Kaine and Ricketts for their leadership on this issue. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this legislation and to partnering with USAID to advance locally-led development and humanitarian response.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl
March 20, 2024

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate of...More