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.
Since 2007, the United States has supported Somalia and its neighbors, first Uganda and Burundi, then Kenya and Djibouti, as Somali and AMISOM forces' efforts to drive al-Shabaab out of Somalia’s cities and towns. Throughout this time, the Somali people endured the unendurable—violence, fear, hunger, disease. But they also came together to build something—a new foundation that would anchor a stable future for Somalia.
As we reflect on what we have achieved and bring new ideas to the challenges still ahead, it’s important to remember that due to our collective follow-through on the commitments we made last year, to a fast and resolute humanitarian response and to help build resilience in the Sahel, we prevented a tragic situation from becoming much worse.
The United States continues to work through all possible channels to most effectively deliver aid. This includes working through the UN, NGO partners, local Syrian organizations and committees. Regardless of political affiliation, we are directing assistance to the most vulnerable people, and we are doing this in coordination with the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
When President Obama selected Raj Shah to be the leader of this organization, I knew instantly he'd picked somebody who understood this mission, who understood we also need to change a little bit, that we need to understand that we have to account clearly to our citizens in a time of tough budgets for all of the dollars we're spending in a very transparent and thorough way. We want to do that. But it also requires us to think creatively, sometimes out of the box, about how we may be able to deliver some of this in 21st century terms in ways that augment, multiply, when we don't have the same amount of resources we've had previously, but multiply the efforts in their return on that investment by creating greater investment opportunities, more jobs, building the economies. I think there are a lot of things that we can think about creatively together to help make that happen, and I'm convinced Raj Shah understands that, and I'm looking forward to working with him over these next years to help make that happen. We're going to get this job done.
Since the Legislative Research Program began more than a year ago, USAID has worked with the to strengthen the capacity to provide National Assembly members and staff with greater in-depth information and analysis on critical laws and policies.
Haleh described my official title as Deputy Administrator, and that’s what it says on the website. I help provide overall direction and management for the Agency, with an emphasis on the Middle East and Africa, oversee implementation of USAID Forward and advancement of presidential initiatives such as food security, global health, climate change, and democracy and governance. But in this small intimate environment –webcast throughout the world—I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
My real day job is to ensure that all our development efforts are implemented in an inclusive manner, in particular drawing on the contributions of previously marginalized and disempowered groups, whether that is women, people with disabilities, indigenous groups, youth, the LGBT community, and religious and ethnic minorities. They must be at the center of our work, and they must be planners, implementers and beneficiaries of all of our development efforts. We have a watchword we use at USAID, “Nothing about them without them.”
Today’s action plan is an unprecedented approach to coordinate the efforts of more than 30 government offices within seven agencies in 100 countries and to unite them with a common purpose, with three core objectives: Every child survives and gets healthy food, Every child grows up in the protective and nurturing embrace of a family, and Every child is safe from violence and exploitation.
We’ve always known that achieving these goals is within our power, but today—for the first time—we have a real, evidence-based, results-oriented plan to get us there. It is a plan that doesn’t just describe our aspirations, but outlines specific and achievable outcomes we must deliver. And it is a plan that doesn’t just describe the challenges we face, but cites specific scientific studies that underpin our learning and inform our new approaches.
Mexico and the United States have a shared border, a shared history, and, increasingly, a shared road to prosperity based on partnership between our two peoples. When they met in Washington in late November, President Obama and President Peña Nieto articulated a common vision that puts even closer economic integration and prosperity at the forefront of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. My visit and the program we are launching today are a tangible reflection of this.
The demand for justice and security is what brings us here today. In Guatemala and other Central American countries, the United States has long emphasized the importance of institutional capacity building. Today is an opportunity to reaffirm our partnership with Guatemala to improve citizen security and bolster the rule of law.
The USAID Security and Justice Sector Reform Project works hand-in-hand with the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Governance, the Public Ministry, the Institute of Public Defense and the National Forensic Institute to improve internal systems and processes thereby building more effective institutions.
It’s wonderful to come together as the year is winding down and the excitement of the holidays and the New Year is beginning. In preparing for today, I was reflecting on all the reasons we’ve come together over the past few years for townhalls and big events. They’ve been opportunities to celebrate our work, discuss our concerns, and share some innovative ideas for the future.
Last updated: April 30, 2013