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INTL Lunch Talk Jan 17 – A Dialogue with Kay Jackson Freeman

Kay Jackson Freeman is a seasoned development professional with more than 30 years of experience with the Agency for International Development (USAID).  She most recently served as USAID’s Senior Development Advisor for Yemen, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  She has a TOP SECRET/SCI security clearance and has completed FACT training within the past five years.

Ms. Freeman has spent much of her working life focusing on the Middle East.  She has worked in Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, in Washington, was also the Egypt desk officer and the Deputy Director for the Office of Middle Eastern Affairs.  She also served as the Director for the Middle East Office of Technical Support, managing the Middle East experts in economic growth, democracy, education, agriculture, water, and the environment.

As SDA for Yemen, Ms. Freeman was the senior USG official coordinating and advising on Yemen assistance issues.  She led her team in the development of an innovative approach to programming assistance in conflict and post-conflict affected areas based on iterative scenario planning, for which the Yemen team won an annual USAID award.  She coordinated US humanitarian assistance to Yemen which, in 2017, exceeded $700 million.

Ms. Freeman’s varied career has enabled her to focus on issues that are important to her.  For two years, she directed USAID’s office for Gender development.  Earlier, she focused on the importance of education in Africa and workforce skills development in Egypt.  In Tunisia, she oversaw the implementation of a job creation model aimed at tackling youth unemployment issues in that country after the Arab Spring.  She also focused on community resilience in Mexico, again focusing on youth and efforts to combat drug-related violence.

Ms. Freeman has a professional capacity in French and learned Spanish for her assignment in Mexico.  She also speaks a little Arabic.  She has an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in Geography and Sociology from the University of Sheffield in the U.K.  She immigrated to the U.S. in 1975, becoming a citizen in 1979.  She has two grown daughters.  Beginning in November, 2017, she resides in Eugene, OR.