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.
We honor the sacrifices of these diplomatic and development colleagues, whose quiet, often unheralded work to save lives and advance human dignity represented the best of our American values to the world. They have advanced these values in some of the toughest corners of the world through our long-term quest to end hunger and child death; strengthen peace and security; and provide help when disaster strikes. This mission serves as the forward defense of our nation. It keeps us safe; it keeps us prosperous. And we honor the names on the walls of both our institutions whose courage in this service knew no bounds.
First, I want to congratulate Dr. Ludeki Chweya on his recent appointment as Director General of the Kenya School of Government.
Last year, the Kenya School of Government and USAID partnered to bring a program on Investment Appraisal that received a strong support and commitment from Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Finance, Treasury, and other key Government of Kenya entities.
On behalf of the U.S. Government, I thank you for the privilege to join you today as we renew a noble promise. In 1990, the Philippines, along with 175 countries around the globe, pledged at the World Summit for Child Survival and Development to save women and children from dying of preventable causes. Since then, the Philippines has made significant progress to reduce child mortality. From 1998 to 2011, deaths among children under the age of 5 decreased from 48 for every 1,000 live births to 30.
Now, four years ago, the QDDR provided the strategic foundation to answer President Obama’s call to transform USAID into a modern development enterprise. With direction from the QDDR, we implemented a suite of ambitious reforms that have changed the way we do business around the world. And I’m not going to reiterate the full list of those actions taken or steps forward, but I would note that today you can download an app on your iPhone and pull up hundreds of rigorous, high-quality programmatic evaluations that demonstrates that development and the execution of development cooperation is, in fact, a discipline that needs to be informed by evidence, data, excellence, and delivering real, concrete results.
It is a pleasure to see you all here today and thank you for coming to the closing event of USAID’s TransACTION project. I am also pleased to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts on our partnership in the fight against HIV and AIDS and what we have accomplished with the project. TransACTION was USAID’s flagship project—funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—for HIV prevention here in Ethiopia. The project has been working hard to prevent new HIV and sexually transmitted infections and to strengthen linkages to care and support services in 119 towns. It has largely been successful in doing so.
I am delighted to join you at today’s rollout of the Agri-Nutrition Resource Manual for Trainers. USAID is proud to have partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health to create a toolkit that helps rural Kenyans improve their nutrition and resiliency. Healthier people are better able to adapt to survive periods of drought or famine. For 50 years, the United States has partnered with the Government of Kenya to reach our joint development objectives. This is one more example of how we can work together to realize a better future.
I am excited to see how USAID is supporting Kenyans as you strive to improve your communities, your health and your quality of life. This water distribution system, built by Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company in a densely populated urban neighborhood is a great example of how USAID is supporting Kenyan-led development.
I am delighted to join you at this launch of a new series of training that could propel some of you to political office.
Thank you for inviting me to join you in celebrating the leadership, talent, potential and promise of Kenyan women.
For decades, USAID has been leading global efforts to achieve gender equality – believing that long-term, sustainable development will only be possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunity to rise to their potential.
It is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate the launch of Wezesha Project. Wezesha Project is a USAID partnership with Lifeskills Promoters, and its partners, St Johns’ Community Center and Christian Partnership on AIDS in Kenya, to coordinate the sustainable care of 20,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Homa Bay, Kisii, and Migori Counties.
Last updated: March 26, 2015