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Chris O'Donnell

Development Essentials

Chris O’Donnell has over 33 years of service with the U.S. government. Most recently as a consultant and founder of Development Essentials, a Limited Liability Company registered in Virginia. In this capacity he has advised U.S. Private Volunteer Organizations (PVOs) and for profit organizations regarding all aspects of winning USAID awards and effective managing contracts and grants. Development Essentials brings the critical tools via an interactive course format to field practitioners for a modest price, balancing the perspectives of the field and headquarters to advance your programs.

Chris is a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Air Forces Academy in Colorado Springs. Prior to admission he was an aircraft mechanic and attended the U.S. Preparatory Academy. While on active duty, he served in Operation Desert Storm, Spain and Italy and in the U.S. as an aircraft maintenance officer managing up to 800 personnel supporting 75 aircraft.

In 1997, Chris joined the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bureau for Humanitarian Response’s Office of Transition Initiatives, a newly formed office responding to the needs of priority countries emerging from a political transition. Over eight years Chris drafted technical documents for contract and grant awards and as an evaluation committee chairperson led the technical evaluation, while supporting the Office of Acquisition and Assistance with cost and price analysis and negotiations. Following award, Chris also assisted with program start-up, management and close-out for programs based in the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, Peru, Kosovo and Iraq.

In January 2005 Chris joined the Foreign Service as a Contracting Officer (CO) assigned to the East Africa Regional Mission, Nairobi Kenya. As the principle CO for the Kenya Mission, a $480 million portfolio, he supported the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Presidential Malaria Initiative as well as all five mission teams. In this position, Chris drafted solicitations, oversaw evaluations, conducted negotiations, provided award administration and close-out to 50-70 awards annually. He has in-depth experience with various awards to include contracts, task orders, cooperative agreements, grants and associate awards. Throughout his career he continued to advance his knowledge with advanced course work and independent study. While in Kenya Chris also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a major, implementing bilateral military programs and developing grants for partner African nations.

Chris founded Development Essentials in 2012.