About UNICEF: Who we are

Maurice Pate biography

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© UNICEF/1680/Anders Engman
UNICEF's first Executive Director, Maurice Pate (1947 – 1965), shares a park bench with children in Stockholm, Sweden.

Maurice Pate (1894-1965) was UNICEF's first executive director from January 1947 until his death in January 1965, a few months before he was to retire. 

The year Pate joined UNICEF, millions of children were suffering the effects of World War II. Pate had made it a condition of his service that UNICEF, founded by the United Nations in 1946 to bring relief to war-affected children, support equally those in vanquished as well as victorious countries. As a result UNICEF helped distribute milk and other supplies to children all over Europe, and soon after helped bring relief to children affected by various conflicts in China, Greece and the Middle East.

Pate saw the organization through major watersheds. The first came in 1950, when UNICEF's mandate was extended to include working with children and families throughout the developing world. Then in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pate helped UNICEF take up the challenge of fighting poverty in the newly independent countries of the developing world.

Before joining UNICEF, Pate had worked for the US Commission for Relief in Belgium during World War I, and had organized American Relief Administration efforts to feed more than a million children in Poland after the war. He pursued a career in business until 1939 when World War II broke out, and was appointed head of the Commission for Polish Relief in 1939. He later joined the American Red Cross as director of relief supplies for prisoners of war in Europe and Asia. In 1946, he analyzed the needs of children as a member of former US President Herbert Hoover's tour to assess global food shortages.

Pate was characterized by his successor as UNICEF's architect and builder and as a great practical idealist.


 

 

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