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.
The reality that we know today is unacceptable and heartbreaking—that nearly 300,000 mothers and 3 million newborns continue to die each year from causes we know how to prevent. Without access to a skilled birth attendant who provides life-saving care in rural settings, a mother’s risk of dying at what should be the most joyous moment of her life is 120 times higher than here in the United States.
That is why Saving Mothers was specifically designed to target the three big delays that put the lives of women and newborns at risk every day: the delays in seeking, reaching, and receiving good care. In many cases, something as simple as knowing the danger signs during pregnancy or arranging for transportation to a clinic ahead of time is all it takes to save a mother’s life.
USAID has been partnering with the Philippines for more than 50 years and is committed to supporting the country’s efforts to emerge from Typhoon Haiyan stronger than ever and remain a vital economic and political partner for the United States
Since Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, we’ve been working rigorously on the ground in partnership with the Government of the Philippines to provide life-saving support and respond to the needs of affected communities. Thanks to the strategizing and coordinated teamwork across all elements of the United States – USAID, the State Department and the Department of Defense, the private sector, NGOs, the faith-based community and diaspora – our country was among the first international responders on the ground to provide aid after the storm hit.
We all know science and technology are powerful drivers of social and economic change. Mobile technology is an especially versatile and powerful tool that is changing how we interact with one another, and with our communities, our governments, and the world.
Our USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, has been reorienting USAID to focus more on the transformative power of science, technology, innovation and partnerships (STIP) to improve development outcomes. And here in RDMA we also have our own Teresa Leonardo effectively encouraging us all to do the same, and broadening our horizons.
At the time that USAID/Cambodia re-opened, the Royal Government of Cambodia re-established the Ministry of Health. In over 20 years, USAID/Cambodia and the Ministry of Health have worked closely together to rebuild and revitalize the national health system.
USAID’s implementing partners has taken on much of the work collaborating with the government to build capacity in Cambodian hospitals, health centers, and communities. Together they have trained and supported the health care workers who improve the lives of Cambodian mothers and children every day.
USAID has been partnering with the Philippines for more than 50 years and is committed to supporting the country’s efforts to emerge from Typhoon Haiyan stronger than ever and remain a vital economic and political partner for the United States. We are at a critical place in our response efforts where we have pivoted from providing immediate relief to building long-term recovery. We are forging partnerships with the people and Government of the Philippines, the private sector, NGOs, faith-based communities and the diaspora to together help rebuild lives and livelihoods throughout the Philippines.
Es un gran placer para mí estar aquí con todos Ustedes esta noche.
El gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha apoyado este premio por varios años. Estoy muy contento de que Semillas para la Democracia continúe con esta loable iniciativa, con el apoyo del sector privado y de organizaciones de la sociedad civil. Este es un gran ejemplo de cómo los paraguayos pueden trabajar juntos para mejorar el sistema de justicia.
It is my pleasure to be with you this morning to recognize the commitment of the Government of Tanzania to formalize Joint Border Committees. This commitment highlights years of cooperation between the Tanzanian and United States Governments, enabled by assistance provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to reduce the time and cost of transporting goods across borders.
We are here today to help address the fact that almost 1 billion people across the globe go to bed hungry every night. To meet the needs of a world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by at least 60 percent.
There is a strong consensus that agriculture plays a crucial role in any effort to reduce global poverty and hunger. Studies suggest that every one percent increase in agricultural income per capita reduces the number of people living in extreme poverty by between 0.6 and 1.8 percent.
Thirty years ago, the official development community was almost exclusively composed of international organizations like the World Bank and government agencies like USAID. But today, we live in a very different world.
Private investment in emerging economies has grown to dwarf official development assistance. And new technologies—perhaps most notably the mobile phone—have transformed the lives of billions of people in the farthest corners of the globe. In the last 15 years, the development community has dramatically expanded. It now includes innovators at universities—who have designed microscopes that attach to iPhones to diagnose malaria and solar-powered micro-grids to give children a light to read by at night. It includes philanthropists like Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim, who have studied these issues deeply and can bring their private sector expertise to bear on solving challenges. And it includes banks and companies like Citi, Dupont, and Cargill who are increasingly seeking high risk, high return investments in some of the toughest parts of our world.
Taken together, these extraordinary new trends—the emergence of new technologies and the growth of our community—have transformed what’s possible to achieve in development.
Last updated: March 26, 2015