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 U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been working in the areas of people with disabilities for 20 years so far. An important part of assistance has been supporting education for children with disabilities. Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training's leadership and partnership have been critical in our efforts to address barriers in education for children with disabilities. And through this kind of partnership, they can bring about the significant cultural and attitude changes in support of children with disabilities.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the momentum build and real results begin to emerge—including 8.8 million children reached through nutrition programs, and 1.8 million people who adopted improved technologies or management practices.
And although the genuine impact of our work will only be understood years from now, we have a growing sense today that the world is increasingly better prepared to absorb any shocks and stumbles without seeing families slip into poverty or nations into unrest.
UWC has partnered with USAID in a number of areas, particularly in developing and shaping higher education programs, by making USAID's development programs relevant and responsive to local needs.
I cannot tell you the number of times each week that I and other senior government officials in White House meetings refer to OTI efforts in critical crisis countries, from Haiti to Sri Lanka, from Burma to Yemen, from Kenya to Lebanon. In these situations, OTI is the eyes, the ears, the face and the conscience of our government and frequently the international community as a whole.
Equally important is the effect that the OTI model has had on the rest of the agency and the rest of the U.S. government’s foreign affairs community. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, OTI should feel flattered indeed. We are all seeking to replicate such techniques and practices as rapid deployment, decentralized programming and decision-making, expeditionary mindsets, data-driven strategies, in-situ learning, incorporation of best practices into on-going programs, adoption of sustainability principles from the beginning, and development of co-deployment platforms focusing on a broad multi-disciplinary surge capacity.
NINH BINH, Vietnam -- Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the National Assembly and staff: This collaboration between USAID, its project implementer partners and the Institute for Legislative Studies is one of the most exciting that we have in Vietnam. The bringing together of legislative leaders such as yourselves and experts to discuss this important subject is highly timely. Many of the reasons were elucidated so nicely by Dr. Thao.
HANOI-- I am here on behalf of U.S. Ambassador David Shear to celebrate the 15th Social Work Day. And I am pleased to be here to participate and see the experience, talent, and creativity in Vietnam's youth.
As many of you know, under President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, USAID is the single largest bilateral donor to Ethiopia’s agriculture development agenda with over $50 million of annual assistance to the sector. Development of the coffee value chain is an important part of our program and one of the key export commodities we support under Feed-The-Future.
SCIP is a public private partnership between USAID, the ELMA Foundation and J.P. Morgan, in conjunction with South African Department of Basic Education, seeking to empower teachers to improve primary grade reading.
Demand for wildlife and wildlife products has dramatically increased in recent years, attracting criminal networks that have made the illicit wildlife economy a global challenge, rivaling trafficking in drugs, persons and weapons. Regrettably, wildlife trafficking can offer greater profits, lower risk of detection, and lower penalties than other illicit trade, and the profits are fueling transnational criminal activities, and even terrorism. At USAID, we believe that wildlife trafficking is not only a security and ethical issue, it is a threat to development. Because of linkages with transnational criminal networks, illicit wildlife trade undermines security and rule of law on which development depends. In regions that depend on wildlife for ecotourism, trafficking costs jobs, reduces incomes, and threatens investment. With 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases originating in wildlife, trafficking is also a global health issue. And we know that drastically reducing populations of keystone species such as elephants and tigers can disrupt delicate ecosystems on which local communities depend.
It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here tonight on behalf of U.S. Ambassador Donald Booth and the American People. Ambassador Booth asked me to convey his sincere regrets and best wishes, in particular for Dr. Eleni Gebre-Madhin as she takes on new ventures. I am new to Ethiopia but I am well aware of the importance of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) for the business of agriculture and, ultimately, for development, and Dr. Eleni’s pioneering efforts to launch this important institution. Many farmers and producers have benefitted from the establishment of the ECX. Citing the example set by the ECX for markets in other countries around Africa, President Obama invited Dr. Eleni to the G8 Summit at Camp David in May of this year and the launch of the public-private New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. So it is a source of pride and satisfaction for me to be here and to be able to note USAID’s contribution beginning back in 2006 to help make the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange a reality in 2008.
Last updated: March 26, 2015