James P. Grant

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James P. "Jim" Grant (May 12, 1922 – January 28, 1995) was an American statesman and children's advocate. Grant served for 15 years as the third executive director of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), with the rank of Under Secretary-General.

Grant was born in Beijing as a Canadian citizen. He lived in China until the age of 15, where his father, John Black Grant, was the first professor of Public Health at the Rockefeller Foundation funded Peking Union Medical College. Grant attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1943 in economics. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen after World War II, and in 1951 graduated from Harvard Law School.

Grant began his international civil service in the late 1940s working in China with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

In 1962, was named Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs and deputy director of the International Cooperation Administration, the precursor to the United States Agency for International Development. From 1964 until 1967 Grant served as the USAID Mission Director in Turkey. In 1967 he was appointed the Assistant Administrator of USAID for Southeast Asia, a position he held until 1969. After he left USAID in 1969 he formed the Overseas Development Council, becoming its president and CEO. Grant left the ODC after being appointed UNICEF executive director. He served in that position from January 1980 to January 1995. As Marcos Cueto mentioned in article, "Under Grant's dynamic leadership, UNICEF began to back away from a holistic approach to primary health care. Grant believed that international agencies had to do their best with finite resources and short-lived local political opportunities. This meant translating general goals into time-bound specific actions. A few years later, Grant organized a UNICEF book that proposed a “children’s revolution” and explained the 4 inexpensive interventions contained in GOBI." [1] On August 8, 1994, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President William Clinton.

Grant was diagnosed with cancer in May 1993, but continued to lead UNICEF until he resigned on January 23, 1995 and died a few days later, at age 72.

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote in 2008 that Grant, "a little-known American aid worker," had "probably saved more lives than were destroyed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin combined" through his promotion of vaccinations and diarrhea treatments.[2]



  1. ^ Cueto, Marcos. 2004. The ORIGINS of Primary Health Care and SELECTIVE Primary Health Care. Am J Public Health 94 (11):1864-1874.
  2. ^ Kristof, Nicolas D. "Good News: Karlo Will Live." New York Times 6 March 2008.

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Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr.
Executive Director of UNICEF
1980 – 1995
Succeeded by
Carol Bellamy