WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama nominated Gayle Smith, a long-time White House adviser on development issues, on Thursday to be the next administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, administration officials said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Smith, a longtime development and Africa specialist in the Clinton and Obama administrations, would succeed Dr. Rajiv Shah, an Indian-American who left the agency in February after five years on the job. Ms. Smith, 59, would be responsible for leading the government’s response to humanitarian disasters like the earthquake in Nepal, the refugee crisis in Syria and the receding Ebola epidemic in West Africa, as well as managing the agency’s $20 billion budget.

“Her expertise and vision have been instrumental to the Administration’s successes in promoting food security, global health, Power Africa, and the Ebola response,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement. “I know Gayle will continue to use her remarkable talents to lead USAID.” Ms Smith now awaits a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.