2004-06 Diplomacy, Security, & Development Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development
Currently a climate change specialist in USAID’s Office of Environment and Science Policy Born in India to American missionary parents and raised in Nepal, Patrick Smith attended college and graduate school in the U.S., receiving his PhD in forestry from Michigan State in 2000. He then returned to Nepal to serve as a visiting scientist at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. Later, while working on invasive species issues in Oregon, Patrick applied for a AAAS Diplomacy Fellowship. With the goal of combining his forestry training with his interest in environmental and international policy, he secured a placement in the Office of Natural Resources Management of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Patrick spent his 2004-05 fellowship year coordinating USAID’s 100-page biodiversity annual report, gathering program information from all over the world. After renewing his fellowship for a second year, he traveled to Japan for the International Tropical Timber Organization meeting as a member of the U.S. delegation and lead negotiator on biodiversity issues. Then in October 2005, Patrick was sent to Pakistan for four months to support the USAID mission on earthquake relief. His duties involved assessing earthquake damage and communicating with the public about the U.S. government’s work within communities. He also participated in the analysis, planning, and presentation of the mission’s budget, which helped secure $50 million from Congress.
“That experience taught me a lot about how USAID works and how a major humanitarian relief effort is organized,” he recalls. “It reinforced how much impact one person can have on the big picture.” Patrick also coordinated the visit of nearly 20 journalists who were accompanying former President George H.W. Bush to the earthquake-affected area. President George W. Bush awarded the entire U.S. government contingent in Pakistan, including Patrick, the Superior Honor Award for the earthquake response.
At the conclusion of his fellowship, Patrick was hired as a climate change specialist on USAID’s Global Climate Change Team. Reflecting on his experience in Pakistan, he says, “As I work now in USAID headquarters on agency-wide budget analysis and reporting about climate change, that field experience keeps me motivated because I know the value of my contribution.”