As part of our “Americans in the UN” project to share the stories of Americans who work for the United Nations, we connected with Mary Alice Hayward, the Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Management for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN agency working for the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

Prior to joining the UN, Hayward was Vice President for Strategy, Government Affairs, and Advocacy for AREVA Inc. She previously served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy and Negotiations at the U.S. Department of State, and on the National Security Council at the White House as Director for Counter Proliferation Strategy.

Originally from Leonardtown, Maryland, Hayward received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and her Master’s in Political Science at the University of Texas.

Watch the full interview:

Below please find the transcript from the interview, which has been edited for context and clarity. 

What is your message to Americans about the value of the UN?

My message to Americans who wonder, “What is the UN?” and “What value does the UN provide?” is: One of the most important things – as one of the largest donors to the entire UN family – is that your taxpayer dollars matter. They have large global implications for improving the overall impact of humanity.

If we can ensure that people all over the world are able to be successful in their day-to-day lives, and living in a world free of strife, and grief, and poverty, the UN is that vehicle. And I want to let every American know that for all the Americans who work at the UN, we’re working every day to ensure that your taxpayer dollars are being spent and used wisely.

How did you first learn about the UN?

The UN for me has always been on my radar. The UN is everywhere and because of its universal mandate and all the agencies that work under the UN family, it’s very well known. And when I had that opportunity to come to the International Atomic Energy Agency as Head of Management, I seized on the opportunity because I really care about people, about making organizations effective, and having the opportunity to be part of such a great organization like the IAEA, I couldn’t say no.

What is your favorite part of your job?

In the case of my agency, the IAEA, or the International Atomic Energy Agency, we’re working to ensure that the atom is used for peaceful purposes, and this means that the entire world can benefit from the advances in science and technology that are made possible by the atom. It’s the mission that fills me with inspiration to come to work every day because I know that the work that we do has a real impact on people’s lives.

[Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA]