Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 9,600 professionals in 80 missions around the world.
Since being sworn in on Dec. 31, 2009, Shah managed the U.S. Government's response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; co-chaired the State Department's first review of American diplomacy and development operations; and now spearheads President Barack Obama's landmark Feed the Future food security initiative. He is also leading “USAID Forward,” an extensive set of reforms to USAID's business model focusing on seven key areas, including procurement, science & technology, and monitoring & evaluation.
Before becoming USAID's Administrator, Shah served as undersecretary for research, education and economics, and as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At USDA, he launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which significantly elevated the status and funding of agricultural research.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Shah served for seven years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including as director of agricultural development in the Global Development Program, and as director of strategic opportunities.
Originally from Detroit, Shah earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his master's in health economics from the Wharton School of Business. He attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Shah is married to Shivam Mallick Shah and is the father of three children. He lives in Washington, D.C.
In Tokyo, the international community and the Afghans will come together to discuss the best way to solidify the progress we've made in the past decade. The timing of this conference is significant because it some so quickly on the heels of the G8 in Chicago that focused on the 2014 transition. As we all know, there are really two transitions in 2014 - the transfer of security operations to the Afghans, and also the first democratic transfer of power in the history of Afghanistan.
Dignity and freedom were the banners of the peaceful revolutionaries. They came carrying dignity, and another banner as well, their humanity. They were searching for the humanity inside them; they lost their humanity because of oppression, corruption and injustice. They came sacrificing their lives, their money, their property, and their children – carrying dignity and humanity. The dignity they were asking for was not in vain. This is something God has granted them.
All religions in the world talk about the dignity of the human being. Islam talks about dignity for humans; this is a part of the Quran. Also, the same thing is in the Holy Bible. This dignity comes from humans as a means for rights. This dignity is a regional value that is carried by all human beings, despite their backgrounds or their beliefs. The youths of the Arab Spring and the women raise a banner of dignity, freedom and justice. Free people of the world – let us work for the dignity of all people.
And in the forefront of the Arab Spring, let us support dignity there; let us support dignity in your own countries. You may be surprised why I say your country instead of our country – because i always believed that humanity, that all of the people of the world are one nation. All of humanity is one nation, and all of the people are brothers.
I am very pleased to witness the signing of the Development Objective Agreements between the United States Agency for International Development and the Government of Ethiopia. These agreements cover the first year of the new five-year USAID Country Development Strategy and reflect the close consultation and cooperation of our two governments in all areas of social and economic development and in all regions of Ethiopia.
Every year we come to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to sign bi-lateral assistance agreement that describe the mutually agreed upon plans for development cooperation between the U.S. Government, through USAID, and the Government of Ethiopia, through the Ministry, working on various sectors of social and economic development. Today’s signing ceremony symbolizes the continuation of cooperation begun 50 years ago with the establishment of USAID operations in Ethiopia.
JACK LESLIE: Well, good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. I’m Jack Leslie. I am delighted to serve as chair for our proceedings today. I’ll try to keep things on track. I wanted to start by thanking Georgetown University. They’ve been very nice to provide their facilities all week long for so many activities, and this big tent, which I guess gives new meaning to the word open meeting. We certainly have an open meeting. We’re glad too, that all of you came to join us this morning.
Good morning. I want to thank Dean Lancaster for opening up Georgetown for partnership and hosting this important session today. I want to thank Minister Tedros and Mr. Azad from Ethiopia and India, respectively, for co-convening this effort and the executive director of UNICEF, Tony Lake, for your leadership in making all of this possible.
I know we’re all also quite excited to hear from both Secretary Clinton and Ben Affleck this morning. And so we’re eager to see them and I thank so many honored guests and excellencies who have come from around the world to be with us. Welcome to Washington.
Thinking back to the lesson of the Central African Republic, our strategies must involve them as planners, implementers and beneficiaries of all our programs. We have an expression at AID: “Nothing about them without them.” Let that admonition guide our work over the next two days. I wish you a productive two days, and I look forward to the outcome of your deliberations and follow up actions.
As you’ve probably had to explain to your grandparents, I’m Raj Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. Hopefully that explanation was easier than usual, because unlike many audiences I’m asked to speak to, most of you have actually heard of USAID.
How do I know?
Last week, I sent an e-mail to our Agency’s staff, telling them that I’d be at SIS and asking alumni to share their experiences. I assumed I’d get a handful of replies, with alumni telling me about their favorite classes or the name of a popular hangout that I could mention for an easy applause line. But then e-mails started flooding in. From Angola and the Philippines and Lesotho and Bolivia. From a gender advisor working to ensure pregnant mothers have access to HIV medication so their children are born AIDS-free. And from a member of our cutting-edge mobile partnerships team, who’s helping transform Haiti into one of the world’s first mobile banking economies.
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I consider it a true privilege to visit this university. Generations of leaders and scholars from this university overcame towering obstacles and deep injustices to shape a better future, and it’s truly humbling to address students who uphold that tradition.
But I also consider it a privilege to speak before your class in particular, the Tuskegee class of 2012.
Thank you and good morning. I'm delighted to be here again today - it is always a pleasure to visit Kansas City. I first attended this conference almost a decade ago, when it was much smaller. The growth of this conference is one of the strongest affirmations of the importance of the work we do together. And this past year more than ever underscored the critical role of U.S. food assistance around the world. In any given year-not just in times of crisis-American farmers from more than 26 states provide food for our assistance programs. People here today know better than most the importance of our global leadership in providing help to those in need.
Last June when I visited Kansas City for this conference, the United States was in the midst of a full throttle response to crisis in the Horn of Africa. More than 13 million people in the dry lands of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia were in urgent need of help, including more than three million in Somalia alone, where conflict exacerbated the most severe drought in 60 years. We had been tracking the potential of this crisis through the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET), a tool USAID has funded for the last 25 years that gives us much earlier and more precise data about climate conditions, projected rainfall, crop production and marketplace functioning. As a result of early warnings that FEWSNET began signaling in August 2010, we were able to have food pre-positioned by that fall.
Last updated: January 28, 2014