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.
Our experience both here in Vietnam and globally is that a vibrant civil society sector is essential to connecting individuals facing the greatest HIV risks to lifesaving services. Thanks to the critical efforts of many of the civil society organizations represented here today, thousands of people in Vietnam are living happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions, and to say how proud USAID is of its history of support to building the organizational, technical, and advocacy capacity of civil society in Vietnam. With donor support, civil society organizations in Vietnam are increasingly at the forefront of delivering relevant, high-quality, and low-cost HIV services to those who need them most.
This morning, I was reflecting on President Obama’s recent visit to South Africa—a visit that so many here were a part of: chance to visit Robben Island, a chance to speak at a state dinner in Pretoria and to meet with so many amazing leaders from South Africa and across the continent. President Obama told us all multiple times that his own personal commitment to a life of service and the fight for justice was born initially out of his efforts to organize students to fight against apartheid and on behalf of President Mandela while he was in school.
In his toast at a state dinner, President Obama described the concept that’s so familiar to all of you of “Ubuntu,” noting that this is a word that does not translate easily into English but defines the sense that all of humanity is bound together in ways unseen. We don’t often have moments of coming together and respecting Ubuntu as we do in this very special moment here today.
I am honored to deliver a lecture named for one of our nation’s greatest public servants. With the heart of a teacher and the experience of a soldier, President Sanford challenged his students to transform the world around them.
Through the generations, Duke University has answered that call. From unlocking the secrets of the human genome to uncovering new leads in the search for an AIDS vaccine, Duke researchers and scholars have set their sights on some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
This thirst for translating knowledge into opportunity has shaped our nation’s economy—the most technologically advanced, the most innovative, and—still today—the most dynamic in history.
Before talking about closing space, I actually want to begin by talking about opening space; I believe these phenomena are inter-related. And we need to understand that relationship, that dynamic as we think about what we do concerning the backlash. They say that when you join government as a political appointee, you spend down your intellectual capital. Not so in the 21st century. Over nearly three and half years of serving in the Administration, I have been witness to, exposed to and learning about a revolution, and I don’t mean the Arab Spring. I mean a revolution in how citizens are using technology to hold government accountable.
As the world has grown more interconnected, this is the new face of development. The days of hiring a contractor to build a road might still be relevant in some parts of Afghanistan, but, in reality, over the long-term, if we are going to end extreme poverty, unnecessary child death and widespread child hunger, we’re going to do it by bringing businesses with real supply chains, logistics capabilities, the capacity to invent new technologies and the determination to measure results, and work in partnership, to some of the farthest corners of the globe.
We have come a long way. USAID began supporting HIV/AIDS programs in Vietnam in the mid-1990s. USAID and its U.S. Government partner agencies work in collaboration with and through the Government of Vietnam at the national, provincial, and district levels in support of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. USAID supports delivery prevention, care and treatment services, and advocacy for policies that will improve access to and the quality of HIV/AIDS services.
Honorable Speaker Ethuro, Honorable Governors, Honorable Members of Parliament and the Senate, Honorable Members of the East African Legislative Assembly, Honorable Assembly Speakers and Members, Government Officials, and members of civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to be here with you today. As a representative of one member of the community of democracies, I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with you to discuss and compare notes on how to advance good governance. It is most certainly an evolving practice and one that gains by shared experiences.
On behalf of the USAID Kenya Mission Director, Karen Freeman, I extend my appreciation to you, Secretary Macharia, for the opportunity to mark the importance of World Breastfeeding Week.
Yesterday, the Senate marked I believe $1.7 billion for Feed the Future and everyone in this room has the right to know: Are these resources being used effectively? But we don’t even have the chance to try and prove that if you don’t make bold statements like you did yesterday that you will continue to support successful results oriented initiatives. So, thank you.
If the old model of development, or the more traditional model, was to hire a contractor to build a road, the new model is embedded in much of what the President saw and spoke about with respect to Feed the Future in priority countries: bringing together local farmers, businesses, policy reforms from government, a focus on measurement and results, and an absolute imperative that the resources we spend are in fact delivering significant results.
Last updated: January 28, 2014