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.
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.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to announce a program that underscores American long-term commitment to Afghanistan and specifically to Afghan women. It’s a partnership we call Promote. We aren’t setting our sights low. We aren’t scaling back our ambitions at this critical point in our history. The Promote Partnership will be the largest investment USAID has ever made to advance women in development.
• Honorable Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nkoane-Mashabane,
• UNISA Vice Principal Phakeng,
• IEC Chairperson Moepya,
• Professor Gutto and Professor Teffo,
• Distinguished members of the diplomatic corps,
• Representatives of the IEC and UNISA,
• Participating election management officials from across Africa,
• Other distinguished guests. All protocol observed.
Last updated: March 26, 2015