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Rajiv Shah

Rajiv Shah
Administrator of the Agency for International Development
Assumed office
January 7, 2010
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Alonzo Fulgham (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1973-03-09) March 9, 1973
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Spouse(s) Shivam Mallick Shah
Alma mater University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
London School of Economics
European Institute of Business Administration
University of Pennsylvania
Website Official biography

Rajiv "Raj" Shah (born March 9, 1973) is Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development USAID.[1] He was confirmed by the Senate on December 24, 2009.[2] In this role, Shah leads more than 9,600 professionals in 80 missions around the world, and manages an annual budget of over $22 billion.[3] USAID is focused on ending extreme poverty.[4]

During his years at USAID, Administrator Shah has also led the humanitarian response of the United States to crisis such as the earthquake in Haiti,[5] flooding in Pakistan,[6] famine in the horn of Africa,[7] refugees fleeing Syria,[8] and the typhoon in the Philippines.[9]

This new model of development – focused on partnership, innovation and results[10] – is best exemplified by some of Shah's signature priorities: Feed the Future,[11] the Child Survival Call to Action,[12] Power Africa,[13] Grand Challenges for Development,[14] Development Innovation Ventures[15] and USAID Forward.[16] Administrator Shah has worked to ensure that USAID's goals – ending poverty and preventable childhood death and reducing the incidence of childhood hunger – are accomplished through a partnership between public resources and private investors [17]

Prior to his appointment at USAID, Administrator Shah served as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist on April 17, 2009.[18][19] Shah's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on May 12, 2009.

Before serving in this administration, Shah worked in a range of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation including Director of Agricultural Development,[20] Director of Financial Services, leader of the Strategic Opportunities initiative and manager of the Foundation's $1.5 billion commitment to the Vaccine Fund.[21]


  • Early life, education, and family 1
  • Career 2
    • Early career 2.1
    • Community Engagement 2.2
    • Work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2.3
    • Under Secretary of REE & Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2.4
    • Leadership at USAID 2.5
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Early life, education, and family

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to immigrant parents from India who settled there in the late 1960s, Shah grew up with his sister in the metro Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield and attended Wylie Groves High School.[22]

Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and M.Sc. in Health Economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and also attended the London School of Economics.[23] He lives with his wife and their three young children in Washington, D.C. Shah's wife, Shivam Mallick Shah, most recently served in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation as the Director of Special Initiatives.


Early career

Shah previously worked as a health care policy advisor on the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, was an active supporter of the Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008, and served as a member of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's health transition committee. He also co-founded Health Systems Analytics (a health care consulting firm), served as an advisor to Philadelphia's Public Health Commissioner, and worked at the World Health Organization. Early in his career, Shah worked on a health and development project in rural South India.

Community Engagement

Shah was actively engaged in the Seattle community as a trustee of the 54,000-student Seattle Community College District, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Seattle Public Library.[24]

Shah co-founded multiple nonprofit organizations including Project Impact for South Asian Americans.[25] Project Impact was a pioneering organization whose mission was to inspire and sustain leadership and activism among young Americans. The nonprofit organization held chapters in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and elsewhere and its 200+ volunteer members pursued projects such as high-school mentoring, leadership training, community building, town halls, and legal aid projects. In addition, the organization hosted the annual Creating a Voice Awards to honor Americans of South Asian heritage who had made outstanding contributions to the fabric of American life.

Work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Prior to his appointment at USDA, Shah worked in a range of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[26] As the Director of the Agricultural Development program, Shah oversaw the foundation's multi-billion dollar portfolio of grant and program-related investments to help transform rural economies throughout the developing world and assist small farmers and their families overcome hunger and poverty. He led efforts to create the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, helped recruit its leadership including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and serves on its Board of Directors. He oversaw grant portfolios in science and technology; farmer productivity; market access; and policy, statistics and advocacy; and managed a team of more than 60 professionals. He also developed innovative partnerships with private industry, the United Nations, the World Bank, and country governments around the world, where he was an active voice on issues related to food and hunger.

As the Foundation's first Director for the Financial Services to the Poor portfolio, Shah worked with a broad range of financial institutions and other donors to determine how Foundation resources could best amplify the field's collective impact. Previously, he led the Strategic Opportunities initiative, which worked with Foundation co-chairs to identify, assess and recommend new areas of giving. This process led to the creation of the Foundation's Global Development Program.[27]

Shah's early work with the Foundation focused on global health. As Deputy Director for Policy and Finance, Shah managed the Foundation's $1.5 billion commitment to the Vaccine Fund. He also came up with the idea for the International Finance Facility for Immunization to transform the global system of vaccine financing and worked to secure donor commitments of more than $5 billion for this facility. The

Under Secretary of REE & Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Prior to heading USAID, Shah was the Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics (REE) and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There he managed the Agricultural Research Service (including the National Agricultural Library), the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Shah was responsible for managing more than 10,000 staff worldwide, including 2200 federal scientists and a budget of more than $2.6 billion. He also led the USDA's participation in the Obama administration's Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative. In his tenure at USDA, Shah launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a new scientific institute created to elevate and enhance the capacity of agricultural research to address sustainable food production around the world, climate change, bioenergy and human nutrition.

Leadership at USAID

January 7, 2010: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the swearing-in ceremony for new USAID Coordinator Rajiv Shah in Washington, DC.

Rajiv Shah became Administrator of USAID days before the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti and led the successful effort to help Haiti recover and rebuild.[5] His crisis management skills and expertise were hailed by many who appreciated his swift and strategic response.[28] In 2010, rainfall and flooding in Pakistan affected up to 1 million people and resulted in as many as 1,100 deaths in Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and international media reports. Shah traveled to the region to assess the situation and make strategic recommendations to assist the 20 million affected Pakistanis.[29] In 2012, under Shah's leadership, the agency also played a pivotal role in helping Syrian refugees by providing food assistance and other humanitarian support.[30] Administrator Shah oversaw USAID's efforts in numerous other international crises, including the famine in the horn of Africa[31] and the typhoon in the Philippines.[32]

Since 2009, Administrator Shah has led Feed the Future, President Obama's food security initiative and the U.S. Government's contribution to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Through specific policy reforms and investments by development partners, African governments, and private companies, the New Alliance seeks inclusive and sustained agricultural growth to lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022.[11] It has already attracted nearly $4 billion in commitments from over 70 companies in nine sub-Saharan countries.[33]

President Barack Obama holds conference call from the Situation Room of the White House concerning the earthquake in Chile, Feb. 27, 2010. Pictured are, left to right, Tom Donilon, deputy national security advisor, Shah and Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff. Other Cabinet officials joined the meeting by phone.

In June 2012, Administrator Shah, along with the Governments of Ethiopia and India, and in close collaboration with UNICEF, convened the Child Survival Call to Action to challenge the world to reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer child deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035.[34] Since the Call to Action, 174 governments and more than 430 civil society and faith-based organizations have signed the pledge, A Promise Renewed, to accelerate progress in child survival and work toward this achievable goal. In the run-up to the Call to Action, Administrator Shah oversaw the Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday awareness campaign to help rally the world to the goal of ending preventable child death.[12]

Administrator Shah was influential in the development and implementation of Power Africa, an initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.[35] He traveled to Africa with President Obama in June 2013 to launch this program, which will leverage U.S. strengths in energy technologies, private sector transactions, and regulatory reform to address energy sector gaps on the continent. Private companies have committed more than $9 billion in investments to Power Africa that will add more than 10,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity by 2020.[13]

Applying innovative technologies to development challenges, Administrator Shah has launched four successful Grand Challenges for Development that use open-source solicitations for groundbreaking solutions in areas like child survival, education, and sustainable agriculture.[14] USAID has received and analyzed thousands of submissions from potential grantees, engaging new actors and seeking ideas that are innovative and scalable. In November 2013 in Stockholm, Shah announced USAID's fifth Grand Challenge, Securing Water for Food, which seeks technological breakthroughs to more effectively use and manage the water required to produce food in developing countries.[36]

Administrator Shah leads the Administration's efforts to change America's food assistance program, including winning new flexibilities in the farm bill that would reach 1 million additional children at no additional cost.[37]

Under Administrator Shah's leadership, USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program provides more latitude and freedom to innovators in the development sphere. Structured according to a venture capital model, DIV has received nearly 4,000 applications and maintains an investment portfolio with evidence-gathering and scale-up activities in 17 countries and 9 sectors around the world.[15]

Administrator Shah has brought a business-minded and results-driven approach to his role as head of the USAID, with a heightened focus on evaluation. He has led USAID Forward, an extensive set of reforms to USAID's business model focusing on seven key areas, including procurement, science and technology, and monitoring and evaluation.[16] Shah's ideas and strategic focus have drawn bipartisan support as he has collaborated with Republican leaders on projects. In 2013, Shah traveled with Republican Senator James M. Inhofe to Ethiopia[38] GOP Senators Lindsey Graham and Thad Cochran have appeared with Shah in their home regions to discuss the shared interest in ensuring overseas food security and aid.[39][40][41] This bi-partisan collaboration allows USAID increased support for implementing the agency's ambitious goals.[38]

In 2013, Shah was named by the publication India Abroad as Person of the Year for Public Service – 2012 [42]


  1. ^ "President Obama Announces USAID Administrator" (Press release). The White House. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  2. ^ "Senate confirms Dr. Rajiv Shah as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development". The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. December 24, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "2013 annual letter". USAID. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Mark Landler (October 23, 2010). "Curing the Ills of America's Top Foreign Aid Agency". The New York Times. p. A6. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Briefing by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on U.S. Flood Relief Efforts and Assistance in Pakistan". USAID. August 27, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Kenya: Aid Has Blunted Famine in Horn of Africa, Official Says". The New York Times. Associated Press. October 6, 2011. p. A10. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ "U.S. aid to Syrian refugees reaches $100M". CBS News. Associated Press. September 5, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Rajiv Shah (April 11, 2014). "Ending Extreme Poverty with a New Model of Development". USAID. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  10. ^ Ronald Brownstein (June 20, 2013). "How to Reinvent Foreign Aid". National Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Fact Sheet: The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition" (Press release). The White House. June 18, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2104. 
  12. ^ a b "Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday". USAID. September 27, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Fact Sheet: Power Africa" (Press release). The White House. June 30, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Grand Challenges for Development". USAID. June 11, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Development Innovation Ventures". USAID. March 10, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "USAID Forward". USAID. June 10, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  17. ^ Rahim Kanani (January 20, 2014). "Rajiv Shah And Tony Blair On Impact Investing". Forbes. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ "President Obama, Secretary Vilsack announce intent to nominate Rajiv Shah as Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at USDA" (Press release).  
  19. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts" (Press release). The White House. 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  20. ^ Philip Rucker (September 25, 2008). "Aid Plan Aims to Help Poor Farmers Reach Markets". The Washington Post. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Michelle Jamrisko (September 7, 2011). "USAID Chief Shah Helps Wal-Mart Open Markets in Spending Shift". Bloomberg Government. 
  23. ^ Noreen Ferris Wolcott (January 15, 2010). "U-M alumnus to lead U.S. rescue project". Record (University of Michigan). Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ Joel Connelly (May 19, 2009). "'"Local Obama administration member learns to 'listen' and 'understand. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  25. ^ Aziz Haniffa (February 1, 2013). "'Your president hears you, and values your contributions'". India Abroad. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Walter Pincus (January 25, 2011). "USAID leader outlines his change in strategy". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Briefing by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on U.S. Flood Relief Efforts and Assistance in Pakistan". USAID. August 27, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  30. ^ Deborah Amos (December 3, 2012). "U.S. Steps Up Aid (But No Arms) To Syrian Exiles". NPR. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Kenya: Aid Has Blunted Famine in Horn of Africa". The New York Times. Associated Press. October 6, 2011. p. A10. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Statement from USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on Super Typhoon Haiyan" (Press release). USAID. November 11, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  33. ^ Alan Bjerga (May 18, 2012). "Obama Calls for Africa Aid as Companies Pledge $3 Billion". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Child Survival". USAID. June 2013. Retrieved July 2014. 
  35. ^ Nicholas Kulish; Michael D. Shear (July 2, 2013). "In Tanzania, Obama Calls for a Partnership With Africa to Aid Its Economy". The New York Times. p. A7. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Securing Water for Food". Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  37. ^ John Kerry; Tom Vilsack; Rajiv Shah (May 9, 2013). "Food aid for the 21st century". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  38. ^ a b Emily Cadei (January 21, 2013). "USAID's Shah Forges Unlikely Relationships With Conservative Republican Members". Roll Call. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Clemson hosts Washington officials for discussion of overseas aid" (Press release). Clemson University. September 18, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  40. ^ Nathan Gregory (September 10, 2012). "Dignitaries explain steps to ensure future food security". Starkville Daily News. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  41. ^ Anna Bard Brutzman (September 18, 2012). "Sen. Graham pushes federal support of global agribusiness aid". Independent Mail (Anderson, S.C.). Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  42. ^ Aziz Haniffa (June 2013). "From the American People, For the American People". India Abroad. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • USAID Bio
Political offices
Preceded by
Alonzo Fulgham
Administrator of the Agency for International Development
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