Dr. Rajiv Shah led the efforts of nearly 10,000 staff in more than 70 countries around the world to advance USAID’s mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies.
Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, USAID applied innovative technologies and engaged the private sector to solve the world’s most intractable development challenges. This new model of development brings together an increasingly diverse community—from large companies to local civil society groups to communities of faith—to deliver meaningful results.
Dr. Shah led President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future and Power Africa initiatives and has refocused America’s global health partnerships to end preventable child death. Feed the Future, alone, has improved nutrition for 12 million children and empowered more than 7 million farmers with climate-smart tools they need to grow their way out of extreme poverty. In April 2014, USAID launched the U.S. Global Development Lab to harness the expertise of the world’s brightest scientists, students, and entrepreneurs. At the same time, the newly formed Private Capital Group for Development forges a more strategic relationship between private capital and development.
Dr. Shah also managed the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to catastrophic crises around the world, from the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Through an extensive set of reforms called “USAID Forward,” Dr. Shah worked with the United States Congress to transform USAID into the world’s premier development Agency that prioritizes public-private partnerships, innovation, and meaningful results. He currently serves on the boards of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as participates on the National Security Council.
Previously, Dr. Shah served as Undersecretary and Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he spent eight years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led efforts in global health, agriculture, and financial services, including the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunization.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the Wharton School of Business. He regularly appears in the media and has delivered keynote addresses before the U.S. Military Academy, the National Prayer Breakfast, and diverse audiences across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Dr. Shah was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has served as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, been named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and has received multiple honorary degrees.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Shivam Mallick Shah and three children and has given up mountain climbing for family bicycle rides.
I’m delighted to participate in today’s launch of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s first policy on Youth in Development. At its core, this policy is about making youth around the world an important priority in the decisions and implementation of our work. Last year, the global population of youth surpassed seven billion people, more than half of whom are under the age of 30. A large majority – nearly 90 percent – live in the developing world. Whether we are raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, building roads, or expanding access to financing for entrepreneurs, the support and engagement of young people is necessary for long-term, sustainable development.
As supported by the United States, LMI has implemented programs through a variety of interagency partners on both sides of the Pacific. The U.S. Agency for International Development, my employer, is proud to have a prominent role in that support. Through bilateral programs in LMI countries and regional initiatives managed from offices in Bangkok, we have been particularly active in promoting cooperation on health, environment and water, and education. USAID is hardly the only agency involved, however.
This pragmatic, even utilitarian approach toward LGBT issues guides the work of my agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development. Our development assistance will never be fully effective unless we draw on the full contributions of the entire population, including marginalized groups such as the LGBT community, women, young people, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and displaced persons.
For the LGBT community, this means supporting the political, economic and social empowerment of the community. It means protecting LGBT people during periods of conflict or humanitarian emergencies, when they’re most vulnerable. It means mainstreaming these issues into our programs in food security, global health, climate change, economic growth, and democracy and governance. Most of all, it means involving the LGBT community in our partner countries, not just as victims, but as planners, implementers and beneficiaries of our programs under the watchwords, “Nothing about them without them.”
I am honored to be here to mark another milestone in USAID’s support to Ethiopia for land administration and land tenure. This issue is a cornerstone for Ethiopia’s growth and transformation plan for land management and land tenure is linked to peace and governance, to agricultural productivity and food security, to conservation of natural resources, and matters to the majority of Ethiopians who reside and farm around the country, and especially to women who are heads of households.
I am greatly honored to be here in Oromia and to launch USAID’s Livestock Market Development project in support of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth PrograM (AGP). Let me set the context for this important project and for the U.S. and Ethiopia’s partnership in agriculture and livestock market development.
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been working in the areas of people with disabilities for 20 years so far. An important part of assistance has been supporting education for children with disabilities. Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training's leadership and partnership have been critical in our efforts to address barriers in education for children with disabilities. And through this kind of partnership, they can bring about the significant cultural and attitude changes in support of children with disabilities.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the momentum build and real results begin to emerge—including 8.8 million children reached through nutrition programs, and 1.8 million people who adopted improved technologies or management practices.
And although the genuine impact of our work will only be understood years from now, we have a growing sense today that the world is increasingly better prepared to absorb any shocks and stumbles without seeing families slip into poverty or nations into unrest.
UWC has partnered with USAID in a number of areas, particularly in developing and shaping higher education programs, by making USAID's development programs relevant and responsive to local needs.
I cannot tell you the number of times each week that I and other senior government officials in White House meetings refer to OTI efforts in critical crisis countries, from Haiti to Sri Lanka, from Burma to Yemen, from Kenya to Lebanon. In these situations, OTI is the eyes, the ears, the face and the conscience of our government and frequently the international community as a whole.
Equally important is the effect that the OTI model has had on the rest of the agency and the rest of the U.S. government’s foreign affairs community. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, OTI should feel flattered indeed. We are all seeking to replicate such techniques and practices as rapid deployment, decentralized programming and decision-making, expeditionary mindsets, data-driven strategies, in-situ learning, incorporation of best practices into on-going programs, adoption of sustainability principles from the beginning, and development of co-deployment platforms focusing on a broad multi-disciplinary surge capacity.
NINH BINH, Vietnam -- Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the National Assembly and staff: This collaboration between USAID, its project implementer partners and the Institute for Legislative Studies is one of the most exciting that we have in Vietnam. The bringing together of legislative leaders such as yourselves and experts to discuss this important subject is highly timely. Many of the reasons were elucidated so nicely by Dr. Thao.
Last updated: March 26, 2015