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.
DR. RAJIV SHAH: Thank you, Marshall.
And good morning. How is everyone? It's wonderful to see such a great group come out so early today. So thank you very much.
And a special thanks of course to Catherine and Dan, who have really made this issue a top priority for everyone in this development business in this town. And we continue to look at and count on the leadership of the Chicago Council and of the team sitting here in the years to come. So thank you very much.
We now have a unique opportunity to make dramatic progress toward our ultimate goal of improving the lives and livelihoods of billions of people. That opportunity is built on a newfound knowledge of what leads to successful development, new levels of political support at the highest levels of this government, and a unity of purpose amongst many powerful partners both across and outside of government. Our understanding of effective development is always evolving, but has improved significantly in the last several decades. Think of our focus on women and girls. We know now that when you educate girls, or make loans to women – you improve life for their families by virtually every measure. We accept this as common knowledge now, and forget that this was once a revolutionary idea.
We know that smartly-aligned incentives, from conditional cash transfers to vouchers for reproductive health services, can increase the use of preventive health care. And we’re beginning to understand the power of information itself. Just look at what text messaging can do for farmers looking to access real-time market pricing. Complementing this knowledge is a recognition at the highest levels of just how important development is.
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you everyone. Thanks so much. (Applause.) You all take a load off your feet because you work hard enough. (Laughter.) It is truly a pleasure to be here. This is a big agency. This is good. (Laughter.) I think this is one of my largest agency visits. This is really wonderful.
I want to start by thanking Raj for that wonderful introduction, but more so for everything that he’s doing here.
Professor Tesar, thank you for that introduction and the invitation to return to U-M.
Being back on campus brings back memories of my own graduation day. Ann Arbor in bloom, everyone in gowns, the marching, the music … and the speech by some guy I’d never heard of.
You know, on the way here this afternoon, I took a detour to the Michigan Union to have a look at the bronze plaque beside the steps.
Thank you so much for being here. This panel really does present an exciting opportunity to have a discussion with some key entrepreneurial leaders in the social sector, the business sector, here at home in the United States, and all around the world. One of the top concerns that entrepreneurs have articulated everywhere, and perhaps more so in the last few years because of what's been happening in our financial markets, is access to capital.
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. We’ve got a couple of weary travelers here: Jack Lew, our Deputy Secretary of State; and Raj Shah, our Administrator of USAID. Raj got back in Washington last night, having visited first Afghanistan and then Pakistan. Jack Lew got back at 10 –
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Ten o’clock this morning.
Thank you, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to be here and it is really wonderful to spend time today honoring the Development Credit Authority. I had the chance to walk through the EGAT Bureau and meet with teams there, and John you weren’t there, but I did get a chance to meet with the DCA team, and it was very exciting for me because I’ve spent a lot of time, and I’ll speak to this, seeing the DCA work in action, and I want to make an important point about that. But John, I want to thank you and the DCA team for having me here.
RAJIV SHAH: Well, good afternoon and thank you for joining us today. Today marks two months since the earthquake in Haiti. And in the days and weeks that followed the earthquake, the president was very clear with us. President Obama asked for a swift, aggressive and coordinated response on behalf of the entire U.S. government. And in fact, so many agencies from across this government, including the one you're in today, USAID, stood up to respond to that challenge.
Administrator Shah: Thank you.
We come today in partnership and in the spirit of cooperation both to mourn the tremendous loss of life and the tremendous suffering that’s been incurred from this terrible tragic earthquake on its near one month anniversary.
We also come to continue our dialogue with the government of Haiti and to continue to learn what we can do to help support the people of Haiti and to help carry out President Obama’s commitment to serve the people of Haiti as effectively, as swiftly, and as aggressively as possible.
Administrator Shah: Good morning. It has been one month now since the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12th, and Haiti’s humanitarian crisis is far from over. The challenges remain significant, and as Haiti enters a three day period of mourning for the loss of life, the tremendous loss of life, we stand together with Haiti in mourning that loss and respectfully taking note of this tragedy.
Last updated: October 14, 2014