The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) appointed former US telecom official Doreen Bogdan-Martin (pictured) as director of its development bureau, making her the first woman elected to one of the ITU’s top five leadership positions in the organisation’s 153-year history.

Bogdan-Martin joined the ITU in 1993, serving as head of its regulatory reform unit from 2003 to 2007 and chief of strategic planning and membership since 2008. She previously worked as a telecommunication policy specialist at the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from 1989 to 1993.

NTIA administrator David Redl in a statement praised Bogdan-Martin as “immensely qualified”, noting her presence will “give the United States a voice in ITU leadership for the first time in three decades”.

US VP Mike Pence tweeted “her leadership will make sure new information technologies benefit all people and nations”.

In her application for the director position, Bogdan-Martin said she will focus on “working to bring online the remaining 3.9 billion people still offline,” implement big data analytics, and modernise training courses and publications to make them “more useful and accessible” to decision makers in both the public and private sectors.

ITU is an agency of the United Nations responsible for allocating global radio spectrum, developing technical standards to ensure network interoperability and increasing access to communications technologies around the globe.