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.
Over time, our vision for literacy has naturally evolved. Globalization and technology have not only increased the complexity of literate environments, but also influenced the challenges to learning. And in today’s rapidly changing world – a world where knowledge is power – being able to recognize words on a page is simply not enough. It is only the first step.
Children need essential skills like problem-solving and creative thinking to be able to write the future. They need “transformative literacy.” The 2030 Agenda on education recognizes this need. By committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world came together to recognize that learning is more than just getting children in school; that education is a driver for progress in other sectors; and that literacy is one of the keys to ending extreme poverty.
I’m extremely confident, and I pledge to you that the United States, USAID – led by Beth Dunford, who leads our Bureau for Food Security – will continue to deliver on our commitment to food security. Together, I believe we can and should invest political capital in this effort, but not politics. We’ve learned in the U.S. that it works when it’s a national project. That we need to keep driving with evidence – the beauty of this effort is we can show people results, and the science and the facts that got us there.
As Cambodia moves towards virtual elimination of HIV, it is ever more important to identify what elements of the national program are producing the desired results and which elements require adjustment. The importance of evaluating innovative approaches to programming and finding efficiencies is heightened. And this is where research and evaluation play critical roles.
The USAID HIV Innovate and Evaluate Project aims to provide relevant information to Cambodia's decision-makers at the policy, implementation, and community levels. This information will inform, interventions relevant to key populations around such priorities as HIV prevention and testing, new case finding, links to HIV care and treatment, and ART adherence among key populations.
We’ve seen in recent weeks that people here in Ethiopia want to be heard. I would like to urge everyone—both within the Government and on the streets—to find peaceful ways to talk to, and listen to each other. No one should ever die for peacefully voicing his or her opinion.
I am thrilled to have this opportunity to talk to you this morning. The part of my job that I enjoy the most is meeting with young people like you, who early in life have demonstrated strength and perserverance in achieving your goals. I hope my words can inspire you as much as you inspire me.
Your Excellency, Dr. Fareeda Momand, Minister of Higher Education; Dr. Hamayoon, Kandahar Provincial Governor; Mr. Hakimi, Chancellor of the Afghanistan National Agriculture Science and Technology University; Distinguished Colleagues; Ladies and Gentlemen:
As you know, India and the United States have a long and successful partnership in the energy sector that has grown stronger and deeper under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Obama. It’s a testament to our common interest that our leaders have visited one another seven times over the past 20 months – and where clean energy and climate change were always a key component of their talks. As I have been telling people for many months, our work together on climate and clean energy may be the single biggest pathway of US/India cooperation in the years ahead.
This issue could not be more important. There are more than one million orphans in Ghana, and too many of them are languishing in unlicensed, inadequate orphanages. These children are all too often subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. They are not even guaranteed the most basic necessities—things like food, water, clothing, education and health care. In these conditions, they are robbed of the chance to grow, learn, and thrive.
Thinking beyond yourself and your own experiences will not only make you a more effective changemaker, it will also teach you the value of diversity. And in that regard we have a lot to learn from this institution, which has been a pioneer for diversity since it was founded in 1867. Over the years, Howard University has committed to empowering people through education and service, and to amplify diverse voices and perspectives. So I just want to say again that I’m thrilled to receive this honor, but I am just as thrilled to receive it here at Howard University.
Fostering an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints is a necessary step to realizing development goals. Young men and young women may innovate differently. But by bringing together varying points of view, Vietnam can build a stronger foundation around which industry can build. Unfortunately, whether in education or the workplace, the proportion of women in STEM decreases dramatically at the highest levels. Men are more likely than women to be in technological and scientific activities, information technology, manufacturing, construction, utilities and transportation, while women are concentrated in education and training, human health, and hotels. Throughout several industries, Vietnam continues to have gender bias in recruitment in sectors relating to STEM and for positions with higher salaries. In many cases employers still add written gender preference in their job advertisements and men are most often targeted for more technical and highly skilled jobs such as architects, engineers, and IT professionals, despite the fact that the performance of highly qualified women often surpasses that of men.
Last updated: April 15, 2016