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.
It is my pleasure to represent the American people at this signing of two agreements to support Project Mercy’s inspiring work to improve the health and livelihoods of communities in Yetebon and Chacha. Shortly after I arrived in Ethiopia in 2010, I had the pleasure of visiting Project Mercy and learning about the wonderful work being done by Marta and Deme. Last January, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Senator James Inhofe came from Washington to see the remarkable work being done here. I am pleased to be here once again to see the progress that has been made since 2010.
On behalf of USAID, it is my great pleasure to join you today for this special event, as we complete the handover of critical medical equipment to the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope. I would like to thank our colleagues at the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope for organizing today’s event. I would also like to thank our colleagues from the Ministry of Health and the Australian Embassy for joining us as well as commend their combined efforts to improve women’s health in Cambodia.
When the Sihanouk Hospital requested USAID assistance to procure equipment to open a Women’s Health Clinic, we recognized the opportunity to contribute toward improving women’s health in Cambodia. The Sihanouk Hospital provides free medical care to Cambodians who have no other options for care. It is a critical and exemplary mission. To date, the hospital has provided more than one million free patient consultations.
It is an honor for me to represent the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) commitment to fight Neglected Tropical Diseases at this important national symposium appropriately themed “End the neglect, Integrate, Scale-up, and Sustain.”
This past weekend, I attended the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London, where you could literally feel the energy that exists for accelerated action on nutrition. For perhaps the first time, it was clear that the prevailing question was not whether we can end hunger or even whether we will. It was how fast we can achieve it.
Today’s discussion is one of the most important we can have—bringing the world’s experts together in a room to ask, “What don’t we know?” “Why” and “What can we do about it?” These evidence summits were started more than two years ago. At the time, we had just recently rebuilt our Agency’s policy capacity—and we envisioned these summits as opportunities for scholars and development professionals to put their heads together to ensure that state-of-the-art research and evaluations informed our work every day.
I would like to thank the Honorable Minister Bathabile Dlamini for the opportunity to participate in this important conference and to highlight how essential it is for children and youth who are affected by HIV and AIDS to continue being a priority in our efforts to mitigate the effects of HIV and AIDS. The U.S. Government and the American people, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (or PEPFAR), are proud to be in partnership with the Department of Social Development in supporting this groundbreaking conference. We believe in the power of partnership and this conference has been a true partnership.
No generation is spared the catastrophic consequences of the AIDS pandemic. From newborn babies of HIV-positive mothers to elderly caregivers, the disease does not discriminate. One of the most tragic consequences is the toll on our children.
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.
Last updated: April 15, 2016