Dr. Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere USA, one of the largest aid organizations in the world, will speak May 17 at Rice's 101st Commencement."I was thrilled to accept President [David] Leebron's invitation to speak at the 2014 commencement," Gayle said to Rice News and Media. "I'm honored to play a part in sending another class of Owls out into the world and [to] be a part of their special day."According to committee member John King, five undergraduate students and one graduate student formed the Commencement Speaker Committee that selected Gayle, while Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Robert Griffin and Senior Assistant to the University President David Vassar advised the group. The committee submitted and ranked possible speakers until they came to agreement on Gayle, member Catherine Yuh said."Some of the qualities and characteristics we were looking for in our class speaker were a commitment to serving the broader good, a wide and far-reaching impact and, finally, a dose of star power," Yuh, a Brown College senior, said.Griffin said Gayle duly met those requirements."I think [Gayle] is an incredible role model for our graduates," Griffin said. "Her commitment to service and her experience in the medical field should appeal to many of our students, and I am positive that her address will be inspirational, memorable and enjoyable."Since 2006, Gayle has served as president and CEO of CARE USA. CARE's 2012 Annual Report said that the organization's combined 997 international programs aided 83 million people in 84 countries last year. According to CARE USA's website, its programs include emergency relief during disasters, education and water sanitation.According to an interview Gayle had with Womenetics magazine, Gayle said that while CARE USA had always played a significant role in global aid, her leadership has emphasized the empowerment of women in poverty through campaigns which aim to reduce maternal mortality, improve education and expose women to microfinance.According to her CARE USA biography, Gayle earned her bachelor of arts in psychology at Barnard College, her medical doctor degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and her master of public health at John Hopkins University. She worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 20 years and then directed programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which combated HIV/AIDS, other STDs and tuberculosis, according to her Bloomberg Businessweek biography. Gayle has been listed on Forbes magazine's "100 Most Powerful Women" for three years in a row and was most recently credited by the magazine for aiding over 750,000 people during the severe food crisis in the West African Sahel region last year."She is a world-class leader on issues that Rice students care about, in places where Rice students have served," committee member Andrew Amis, a Martel College senior, said.Yuh said she believes Gayle will resonate with the student body."I think [Gayle] embodies what we strive to be at Rice," Yuh said. "As we expand our reach beyond the hedges, we'll have to think more critically about what's happening beyond our borders." According to committee member Shaan Patel, Gayle will provide valuable lessons for seniors to cherish. "As this group of seniors begin to chart their futures, it is important for them, as well as all members of the Rice community, to keep her message of philanthropy in their minds and hearts," Patel, a McMurtry College senior, said.