Elizabeth Littlefield

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Elizabeth L. Littlefield
Littlefield Portrait.jpg
President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Assumed office
October 1, 2010 - January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byRobert Mosbacher, Jr.
Succeeded byRay Washburne
Personal details
Elizabeth Lascalles Littlefield

Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Spouse(s)Matthew B. Arnold
Children2 Stepchildren
Alma materBrown University

Elizabeth L. Littlefield, an American financial executive with a long career at J. P. Morgan, served as the Chairman, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), during the Obama administration.

She is currently Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group. [1]

Early life[edit]

A native of Boston, Littlefield attended the Fondation Nationale de Sciences Politiques and Columbia University in Paris, France in 1981, obtaining a Certificat d'Etudes de Sciences Politiques. In 1982, she graduated rom Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island with a BA in International Relations. In 1984, she completed J.P. Morgan's 10 month bank management training program.


In 1982, Littlefield joined the global investment banking and advisory services firm JP Morgan, the start of a 17-year career with the institution.

In her first three years, based in New York City, she managed relationships of J.P. Morgan with financial institution in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. During this time, she began collaborating with Women's World Banking,[2] a global nonprofit devoted to giving more low-income women access to the financial tools, education and resources they require to build security and prosperity.

From 1986 to 1988, Littlefield was J.P. Morgan's Director of Investment Banking based in Paris. She was responsible for design, creation, marketing and technical aspects of 24 multi-currency investment funds incorporated in France and Luxembourg.

While working in Paris, she persuaded J.P. Morgan to allow her to a leave of absence from 1989-1990 to move to West Africa to help local communities establish several start-up microfinance institutions in Central and West Africa.[3] She helped the founding board create the Gambia Women's Finance Corporation as well as start-up microfinance institutions in Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Rwanda, and Burundi.

In April 1990, Littlefield moved to London to establish the Emerging Market Sales and Trading business for JP Morgan, in which capacity she was Head Debt Trader for loans and bonds of 42 countries across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.[4] During this time, Littlefield crafted also discounted debt structures, such as some of the earliest debt-for-nature swaps.

In January 1993, Littlefield became Managing Director of Emerging Markets Capital Markets[5] at JP Morgan, responsible for financings across Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, nations of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Africa.

In 1999, dshe was recruited to serve in a joint capacity as a Director of the World Bank's Financial and Private Sector Division, and Chief Executive Officer of The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) from 1999 to 2010.

From 2007 to 2008, Littlefield was an adjunct professor specializing in financial sector reform and global development at SAIS, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.

Government career[edit]

From 2010 to 2017, Littlefield served as the Chairman, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government's development finance agency during the Obama administration. . In this role, an Under Secretary-level position,[6] she managed OPIC's $24 billion portfolio of financing and insurance to support private investment in more than 100 developing countries. Under Littlefield's leadership, OPIC investments in renewable energy[7] grew 10-fold within her first three years and held at $1.5 billion per annum thereafter, its income generated for the U.S. federal budget grew significantly, its investment portfolio nearly doubled, and it ranked at the top of the federal government’s employee viewpoint rankings.

Littlefield also instituted major transformations and reforms of the agency’s policies, systems and processes and introduced new financial innovations[8] and partnerships to augment the agency’s development impact. In redirecting the Agency's sector focus toward renewable resources, especially natural resources, solar and wind energy, as well as impact investing the Agency became the first development finance institution to provide financing to many off-grid solar companies.

During her tenure at OPIC, Littlefield increased investments in Sub-Saharan Africa markedly (250 percent from 2009 to 2015)[9] and the agency was the principal source of financing under President Obama's signature Power Africa initiative.

Littlefield was appointed by President Obama to serve as a member of the White House Global Development Council and the President’s Export Council. She was presented in 2012 with the U.S. State Department's Distinguished Service Award, the highest award in the Foreign Service, by then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Other activities[edit]

Littlefield currently serves on the boards of: The World Wildlife Fund; The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University; M-KOPA, one of the largest pay-as-you-go solar companies in Africa; and the International Conservation Caucus Foundation; among several other development and conservation-focused organizations.

Littlefield is a former Board Member, Executive Committee Member and Treasurer of Women's World Banking.

Littlefield has served on the Boards and Executive Committees of the MasterCard Foundation and the Calvert Foundation.

Littlefield was the founding chairman of the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, now known as The Lab.

Littlefield was a founder of the Emerging Markets Charity in the United Kingdom.

She is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations.

She has served as the Chairperson of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation.

Personal life[edit]

Littlefield is married to Matthew B. Arnold, and has two stepsons. She holds dual citizenship in the United States and United Kingdom. She is fluent in English and French.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Walsh, Michaela (December 6, 2008). "Founding a Movement: Women's World Banking, 1975-1990". Cosimo Books. New York. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Gao, Ying (October 24, 2015). "Celebrating Women Leaders - Elizabeth Littlefield: An Early Journey Sparks a Lifetime Commitment". Women's World Banking. United States. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Refer to FT Lexicon for a succinct description of JP Morgan emerging market bond indexes.
  5. ^ Muehring, Kevin (April 1, 1994). "Emerging-Markets Debt Comes of Age". Institutional Investor. New York. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Staats, Sarah Jane (March 17, 2010). "OPIC Nomination Hearing: One Step Closer to a Private Sector Voice at Obama's Development Table". Center for Global Development. Washington. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Post, Network Blog (December 2, 2014). "Interview with Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC President and CEO". WorldAgNetwork.com. Tampa. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  8. ^ Kidney, Sean (September 25, 2014). "Now Here's Something to Like: OPIC issues $47.3m green project bond with a guarantee. Good example of how rich world can assist developing". Climate Bonds Initiative. London. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Littlefield, Elizabeth (January 5, 2015). "Don't Let Ebola Obscure Africa's Larger Promise and Challenges". Devex. Washington. Retrieved April 13, 2016.