Julia Vadala Taft

Many of us knew that Mr. Vadala had a sister, but I never had the chance to meet Mrs. Julia Vadala Taft, who was married to the great-grandson of U.S. President William Howard Taft, William Howard Taft IV. When I published an earlier version of my “Mr. V.” article on another website, I sent her the link to it and a brief flurry of e-mail activity followed. I had the feeling that she was as special a person as her brother had been, so I thought it is only appropriate to include her here.

Mrs. Julia Vadala Taft, born two years after her brother, in 1942, passed away in 2008. You can find lots of information online about her, especially in a Wikipedia entry, “Julia V. Taft“, and the New York Times obituary, “Julia Vadala Taft, Official Who Led Relief Efforts, Is Dead at 65“.

She lived what her brother taught at school.

Early on she became aide to United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Elliot Richardson. In 1975, President Ford appointed her as Director of the Interagency Task Force on Indochina Refugees and she oversaw the resettlement of more than 130,000 evacuees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. For nearly three decades, she designed and developed refugee programs for the US Department of State, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Agency for International Development, and the United Nations. From 1986 to 1989, she was the Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID). She coordinated the efforts of the State Department, the Pentagon, other government agencies, and non-governmental agencies like CARE and Save the Children in responding to requests for disaster aide from foreign governments. From 1994 to 1997, Mrs. Taft was head of InterAction, a coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to international aide and in 1997, President Clinton nominated her to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and she subsequently held this office from November 10, 1997 to January 19, 2001. From 2001 to 2004, she was director of the United Nations Development Programme’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery and she oversaw the United Nations response to displaced persons related to the War in Afghanistan.

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[photos: source] The book, “Off to Save the World. How Julia Taft Made A Difference” has its own website.