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.
Every year, this event brings together the world’s champions in food security. I look around the room and see nutrition experts, food scientists, and humanitarian leaders. I see advocates from both sides of the aisle who recognize that the face of hunger is not a partisan issue, but a moral one—and one of great importance to our shared security and prosperity. Looking around the room, it is clear we have the expertise, tools, and new approaches to end hunger.
Most importantly, it’s clear we have the leadership.
Over the last three years, under the personal and committed leadership of President Obama, Feed the Future has worked to translate a global vision of food security into sustainable impact that are lifting millions of people from poverty and giving them a foothold in the global economy. For generations, this aspiration—of a world without hunger—has guided American engagement in development.
USAID is supportive of the goals of IHP+, and we welcome opportunities to collaborate more effectively with countries and development partners in accelerating progress toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals. USAID is delighted to sign the IHP+ Global Compact for a variety of reasons.
It is also my honor to be here today because your education represents something unique in our world. Even since the giants of industry—Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon—first established their footprints here in Pittsburgh, this city has served at the frontier of American innovation and philanthropy—proving what is possible when you apply both your heart and your mind.
With backgrounds as diverse as engineering and history, Heinz scholars learn to apply these principles to their own work—bringing analytic rigor to public policy and compassion to analytics. It is here—at what Steve Jobs called the intersection of technology and liberal arts—that ideas gain influence and action has real meaning.
It is a great honor to participate in the fortieth anniversary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) policy fellowship program. I’d like to begin by thanking Alan Leshner, Cynthia Robinson, and their colleagues in the diplomacy security and development program for partnering with USAID, and to Alex Dehgan for his superb leadership in the science and technology arena at USAID. And I’ll extend a particularly warm welcome to all of our current and former USAID AAAS fellows, who have enriched our Agency.
Good afternoon! I am really excited to be here today. Indeed, from the day that Tom first shared with me an early draft, I have been waiting impatiently for this book to be published. And now that the day has come, I must start by congratulating the authors – both Tom and Diane, and note how pleased I am to see such a crowded room for this launch.
We are here today to reaffirm our interest and commitment to following up on the outcomes of the Copenhagen Consultation in 2012 to provide ourselves with a new tool in our work in promoting sustainable economic growth around the world. This is essential if we are to fulfill the vision we all share for the future. Indeed, two months ago, President Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address that the United States will join with our allies to eradicate extreme poverty in the next two decades. He said that this will be achieved by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve; by helping communities to feed, power and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.
It is my pleasure to join you to mark the 2013 Vietnamese Disabilities Day and talk about our joint efforts to encourage and support Vietnamese with disabilities.
Tôi vinh dự được cùng quý vị kỷ niệm Ngày người Khuyết tật Việt nam 2013 và phát biểu về nỗ lực chung của chúng ta nhằm khuyến khích và hỗ trợ người khuyết tật Việt Nam.
I must admit that it’s daunting to speak before religious scholars, and organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, St. Egidio, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. I feel like the man who was asked to speak about Whale Anatomy, and as he looks into the audience, he sees Jonah.
The task is made less daunting by the recognition that Pope John’s 23rd encyclical is accessible throughout five decades. In the 1960’s, it’s accessible during nuclear disarmament and an end to the arms race, as well as decolonization and an end to the caste system dividing nations. It can be applied to the 1970’s, as we witnessed gender equality and women’s empowerment on the rise, and an end to racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination. We can look to it as we committed to treatises on the inter-connection of global human rights and peace in the 1980’s. And in the 1990’s, it’s useful at the need to ensure that growing science and technology is pursued not as a goal of its own but as a means toward the betterment of mankind. More recently, perhaps not surprising given my position as USAID’s Deputy Administrator, it is a strong endorsement of foreign assistance as a means of building peaceful, stable societies. It may sound self-serving since my agency’s budget is going to the Hill tomorrow, but paragraph 88 reminds us:
Since 1954, we have helped feed a billion people in over 150 countries. Initially, it was an act with no apparent downside. Our farmers had an outlet for their surplus food. Our ocean carriers filled their vessels with food aid. And vulnerable people halfway around the world received their next meal.
But over the last 60 years, the world has changed. Today, agriculture is the second most productive aspect of the American economy, and we just experienced the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade. Between now and 2050, demand for food will be so strong that agricultural production will have to grow 60 percent just to keep up. Rather than surpluses, we talk of shortages. And as a result, the cost of doing business has grown by 200 percent—eroding our humanitarian reach and impact.
Last updated: January 28, 2014