President Obama today nominated Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank, a surprise choice aimed at diversifying the organization's leadership with someone experienced in development of Third World countries.
"The leader of the World Bank should have a deep understanding of both the role that development plays in the world and the importance of creating conditions where assistance is no longer needed," Obama said at Rose Garden news conference. "I believe that nobody is more qualified to carry out that mission than Dr. Jim Kim.
"It's time for a development professional to lead the world's largest development agency," he said, flanked by Kim, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The World Bank, which is based in Washington, provides financial aid to many of the globe's poorest countries for capital construction projects and new international trade programs. One of its top priorities is reducing poverty.
Kim, 49, who is by training a physician and anthropologist, co-founded the international global health advocacy Partners in Health. He has worked at the World Health Organization, Harvard Medical School and, for the past three years, served as president of Dartmouth College.
"Jim has truly global experience," Obama said. "He has worked from Asia to Africa to the Americas, from capitals to small villages. His personal story exemplifies the great diversity of our country and the fact that anyone can make it as far as he has as long as they're willing to work hard and look out for others.
"His experience makes him ideally suited to forge partnerships all around the world."
The Bank's executive board, which is dominated by U.S. members, is expected to make Obama's choice official. Kim would replace Robert Zoelleck, who resigned the Bank presidency earlier this year.
In a letter to the Dartmouth community, Kim called the prospect of leaving his post "very difficult" but would do so if his nomination is approved.
"This is one of the most critical institutions fighting poverty and providing assistance to developing countries in the world today," he said. "After much reflection, I have accepted this nomination to national and global service."