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.
Two years ago, President Obama and Secretary Clinton both called for elevating development in America’s foreign policy, alongside diplomacy and defense. They both believe that the development work USAID’s staff does around the world was just as vital to our interests as the work of our soldiers and diplomats.
I am thrilled to be here today to launch our new policy on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment, an update to a 30-year-old policy that will significantly strengthen our capacity to support women and girls by ensuring our efforts are well-integrated and based in rigorous analysis.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you-to gain the benefit of your collective experiences in counter trafficking and share the focus behind our new policy.
Although we don't have precise numbers, as many as 27 million men, women and children may be essentially enslaved in sex or labor exploitation-more than double the population of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.
I am very pleased to welcome you today for the launch of USAID's new Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance. It is designed to become a core evidence-based resource in the field , and strengthen our own culture of data, research and evaluation within USAID. This Center represents our Agency-wide focus on measuring performance to determine what really works. Instead of driving our programming based the conclusions of a handful of experts, we will conduct ongoing, in-depth oral histories, impact evaluations and country assessments to understand where and how we can be most effective.
It's a great honor to be able to welcome the first group of Bush Institute Egyptian Fellows to Washington. You bring with you a wealth of experience in the arenas of education, health, business, politics, law and the media. You have achieved so much in your lives already - I understand that one of you is actually only 23 years old. I'm humbled. But then again, it is a sobering thought to think that when he Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 23 years.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I'm pleased and honored to be here at Harvard University, and have an opportunity to discuss the evolving development landscape in Asia with you.
It's a great honor to speak here today on the topic of ensuring inclusive approaches toward peace processes and post-conflict peacebuilding. I want to thank American University's School of International Service and Julie Mertus in particular for their leadership in putting this program together, along with BlueLaw LLP, the Stimson Center, and Women Enabled. I also wanted to salute the work of our own dedicated professionals at USAID, including our Disability and Inclusive Development Coordinator Charlotte McLain-Nhlapo and Senior Governance Advisor Chloe Schweinke.
The fundamental reality is that immense challenges like climate change, poverty and food insecurity aren't going solved by traditional approaches. The scale of those challenges is so massive, they will require new innovations, driven by the transformational power of science and technology. To drive this approach forward, we are embracing innovation and science as a core part of our work-recapturing USAID's legacy of transformational development through technological breakthroughs. The legacy that helped bring us the Green Revolution and oral rehydration therapy. And a legacy that helped green the Sahel, transforming 50 million hectares threatened by desertification-an area larger than Sweden-into sustainably productive lands.
Good morning, and thank you, Noam, for that kind introduction and for your important work here. I'm pleased to be able to join you today and want to thank Brookings for all the great work that you've been doing in this space.
Last updated: March 26, 2015