Abdul Qayoom Bassam, Afghanistan Trade Attache, Istanbul
"I had the privilege to work under Jesse’s leadership in an $80M USAID governance project in Afghanistan in 2007-8. The program helped provincial and district government, civil society and community councils participate in recovery, development, and stabilization of their territory. He coached me on the job to think about the broader picture of social, economic, and politics in the northern region, listened to my recommendations, and helped me address challenges in these areas. He worked hard to empower national staff to assess, design and implement locally sound initiatives that contribute stability and improved governance.
As Jesse restructured the governance program he promoted me to be the officer in charge in the northern part of Afghanistan, giving me the opportunity to practice management and leadership skills. I became responsible for supervising 36 staff working on technical assistance in governance and infrastructure in support of local government and communities. Jesse decided correctly to reassign me to my home province in the north in order to use my knowledge and network in the region and to live at home with my family.
On an early trip to Mazar i sharif, Jesse met with the provincial governor and discussed project objectives and the governor’s priorities. In the meeting with the governor Jesse spoke highly of my skills and his high degree of trust in my ability to work with provincial and local authorities. Jesse’s complimentary remarks and confidence regarding my role and responsibility strengthened my reputation and opened doors for information-sharing, planning, and cooperation with provincial and local authorities. He recognized my abilities and those of others and highlighted them during important occasions. As a result of his coaching and mentoring, today I serve as an Afghan diplomat in Turkey managing trade relations between the two countries. Jesse is a leader with confidence and with a great attitude of caring and empowering people to achieve their professional ambitions."