• Washington Post

Former White House Official Killed after Business Jet Hit Turbulence

Millennium Challenge Corporation
Dana Hyde, a White House and international development official during the Clinton and Obama administrations, was killed on March 3, 2023, after the business jet she was flying in hit severe turbulence in New England, officials said.

A former White House and international development official was killed last week after the business jet she was flying in hit severe turbulence in New England, officials said Monday.

Dana Hyde, 55, of Cabin John, Md., was flying with her husband and one of her sons on an aircraft owned by rural broadband consulting firm Conexon, the company said. Neither of her relatives nor the two members of the flight crew were injured, according to the company and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Hyde was taken to a hospital in Hartford, Conn., after the Bombardier jet, heading from Keene, N.H., to Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia, made an emergency landing, Connecticut State Police said. The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The family members were returning Friday from a trip to visit schools in New England, Hyde’s husband, Jonathan Chambers, said in an email to employees and clients of Conexon, which is based in Kansas City, Mo.

“Dana was the best person I ever knew. She was a wonderful mother to our boys and she was accomplished professionally,” Chambers wrote. “She loved and was beloved.”

In addition to probing what it initially described as a turbulence event, the NTSB said Monday, its investigators are “now looking at a reported trim issue that occurred prior to the in-flight upset.” The agency did not describe the nature of the reported issue, but trim generally refers to a plane’s ability to maintain its altitude.

On their way home, Chambers said, “the plane suddenly convulsed in a manner that violently threw the three of us. My wife was badly injured.” An ambulance had been waiting, but her injuries were too severe., he said. She died that night.

Federal safety investigators will analyze weather data as well as information from the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, the NTSB said. The agency said a preliminary report will be released in two or three weeks.

Hyde was a White House special assistant during the Clinton years. She was also a senior adviser at the State Department during President Barack Obama’s administration before becoming an associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Earlier in her career, she was counsel on the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the nation’s preparedness for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hyde had a long-standing focus on international development and poverty issues during her years in Washington, including as chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. agency that seeks to reduce global poverty.

Hyde was seen as a “brilliant and generous colleague,” said Jon Purves, a spokesperson at the Aspen Institute, where she was co-chair of the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy in 2020 and 2021. “The thoughts of our entire Aspen Institute community are with Dana’s family and loved ones.”

Her husband said Hyde was born in rural eastern Oregon and worked her way through college and law school, approaching a long list of federal jobs with a sense of love.

“Her desire to help people was evident in her career choices,” Chambers wrote, saying she was especially proud of work investing in infrastructure in underdeveloped parts of Africa and Asia.

In a statement during her 2013 Senate confirmation hearing for the Millennium Challenge CEO position, Hyde spoke of how U.S. government support had “transformed not only people’s lives but entire communities – even entire countries.”

That foreign development work also serves to improve national security, Hyde said, citing insights from her work investigating 9/11.

“We should be using every tool in our toolbox to keep our nation safe,” she said at the time. “Helping economic opportunity appear in places where there is little to be found – helping countries create the conditions for their citizens to start businesses, get new skills, and create jobs – is critical to regional and global stability.”

Chambers is a former Republican staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where his work included a focus on telecommunications. They have two sons, Judah and Elijah.

As part of her confirmation, Hyde offered thanks to generations of supportive family, “especially to my three guys.”

Hyde spent time studying and working in Israel and “fell in love with the country, the language, and the people,” Chambers said. “So, we have decided to lay her to rest in that special place.”