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.
As of January 2019, Bill was named as the new Executive Vice President for Mission and Mobilization. Bill's new role will see him lead this new division to:
- Strengthen CRS' communion with the US Catholic Community and supportive entities
- Lead strategic issue-based campaigns
- Advocate for CRS' strategic objectives
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)
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University: MA, Public Policy & International Development 1987
Yale University: BS, Chemistry 1984
- U.S. Global Leadership Campaign : Member, Board of Directors
Recent Media Appearances (9)
End government shutdown to stop hunger crisis
The Hill online
Bill O'Keefe, the vice president of Mission and Mobilization for Catholic Relief Services says "The latest government shutdown has created funding delays and operational confusion for our program staff in various countries, and has also created an overall sense of uncertainty for our partners. Such delays and confusion can ultimately hurt our local relationships, which can then impact the overall design, implementation, and effectiveness of our programs.
Catholic Relief Services: Immigration action must consider root causes
“What we would like is more attention to addressing why people flee,” said Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for Catholic Relief Services.
O’Keefe spoke with CNA about the motives behind immigration to the United States, and how Catholic Relief Services is working to address these root causes.
What to watch in US Congress in 2019
Catholic Relief Services will be pushing legislative action around early childhood development and bridging the gap between the first 1,000 days and basic education. It will also look to work with Congress to continue progress on food security issues, said Bill O’Keefe, Catholic Relief Services’ vice president for government relations and advocacy.
U.S. Makes Great Strides to Help Iraqi Christians, More Remains to Be Done
The Washington Free Beacon online
In some towns, rebuilding has progressed significantly. In Telleskuf, for example, over 70 percent of families formerly living there have returned. Bill O'Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), told the Free Beacon life in Telleskuf "is back to some semblance of normality."
In June, USAID announced $10 million in funding for an umbrella group headed by CRS. O'Keefe said CRS has concentrated "on shelter, education, and livelihoods."
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...
Foreign assistance should be directed where the need and impact are greatest
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...
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...
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...
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.”...