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Bill O'Keefe - Catholic Relief Services. Washington, DC, US

Bill O'Keefe Bill O'Keefe

Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy | Catholic Relief Services


Based on Capitol Hill, Bill O’Keefe oversees CRS' efforts to impact U.S. foreign policy in ways that reduce poverty overseas.






Integrating Human Rights and Development in Practice Holy Family in Midst of Refugee Crisis




Based in Washington, D.C., Bill O'Keefe oversees efforts to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reduces poverty and promotes justice in developing countries where CRS works. He and his staff lobby Congress and the Administration on a range of issues, including migration, refugees, food security, and all aspects of U.S. foreign aid. Bill also works to involve American Catholics in public campaigns for policy change.

Bill joined CRS in 1987 as a project manager in Tanzania, where he chaired the sub-regional task force on HIV and AIDS. He held several positions supporting CRS’ work in Africa before beginning his work in advocacy in 2001. Bill has developed CRS’ positions in the areas of U.S. foreign aid and agricultural trade, and ran a two-year campaign to involve Americans in improving U.S. policy toward Africa.

Bill holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a master's degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Areas of Expertise (7)

International Relations Humanitarian Aid Policy Food Aid Foreign Policy Foreign Aid Food Assistance Development Assistance

Education (2)

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University: MA, Public Policy & International Development 1987

Yale University: BS, Chemistry 1984

Affiliations (1)

  • U.S. Global Leadership Campaign : Member, Board of Directors

Recent Media Appearances (5)

U.S. Catholic bishops and migration experts urge reconsideration of Global Compact



In an interview with Crux, Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for Catholic Relief Services, said Catholics of all political persuasions should support the effort of the Global Compact.

“Catholics are all refugees or migrants to the United States and have had an intuitive understanding for a long time about that experience of people fleeing violence or poverty or desperation and have felt their own moral responsibility as Catholics to love their neighbor who they see as people going through the same thing as their ancestors went through,” said O’Keefe...

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Foreign assistance should be directed where the need and impact are greatest

The Hill  


In Washington, many are talking about changing the size and scope of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), our government’s main administrator of foreign assistance...

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Agencies, host countries tackling needs of growing number of refugees

Catholic News Services  


Bill O'Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for Catholic Relief Services, said the "average refugee" can expect to spend up to 25 years in that situation and the countries that host refugees are predominantly low- and middle-income nations...

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Catholic leaders find proposed federal budget largely fails the moral test

Catholic News Service  


When it comes to international aid, a spokesman for Catholic Relief Services said foreign aid cuts ultimately could affect national security because poverty and desperation would expand. Bill O'Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at the agency, called on Congress to protect nearly $60 billion in diplomacy and development aid.

O'Keefe cited the McGovern-Dole food program as one that has made a difference in the lives of children at a small cost. In a region of Honduras, for example, the program provides 90,000 children with a lunch at school, allowing them to attend classes and reducing the likelihood they will join a violent gang, O'Keefe said...

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A lesson in likeability with CRS CEO Sean Callahan



Bill O’Keefe, CRS vice president of government relations and advocacy, has worked with Callahan for 26 years and describes him as “a very relational person, and therefore a relational leader.”

“He has a large reservoir of trust and loyalty in the organization,” O’Keefe said. “People follow people … our partners around the world also feel this natural solidarity from him that helps in building the kind of mutual relationships where we can push each other to do more better.”...

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