|Administrator of the Agency for International Development|
January 7, 2010
|Preceded by||Alonzo Fulgham (Acting)|
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
Rajiv “Raj” Shah (born March 9, 1973) is an American economic development specialist and physician who is currently the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He was confirmed by the Senate on December 24, 2009, replacing acting chief Alonzo Fulgham. In this capacity, he has led USAID in efforts to provide relief to the earthquake victims in Haiti and to flood victims in Pakistan.
Prior to his appointment at USAID, Shah worked in a range of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation including Director of Agricultural Development, Director of Financial Services, leader of the Strategic Opportunities initiative and manager of the Foundation’s $1.5 billion commitment to the Vaccine Fund. Before joining the Gates Foundation, Shah was a health care policy advisor on the Al Gore presidential campaign, 2000 and a member of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's transition committee on health.
President Obama announced Shah’s selection as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist on April 17, 2009. Shah’s nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on May 12, 2009.
In September 2011, Administrator Shah, along with Dr. Jill Biden, spearheaded the FWD campaign to spread awareness and raise funds for over 13 million people affected by famine, war, and drought in the Horn of Africa.
Early life and family
Born to Hindu immigrant parents from India who settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the late 1960s, Shah grew up with his sister in the metro Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield and attended Wylie Groves High School.
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. He lives with his wife and their three young children in DC. 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.
Leadership at USAID
Shah became Administrator of USAID days before the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In response, USAID and other agencies, began working to help Haiti recover and rebuild. Together with the international community and the Government of Haiti, Shah led USAID to help provide safer housing for almost 200,000 displaced Haitians; supported vaccinations for more than 1 million people; cleared more than 1.3 million cubic meters of the approximately 10 million cubic meters of rubble generated; helped more than 10,000 farmers double the yields of staples like corn, beans, and sorghum; and provided short-term employment to more than 350,000 Haitians, injecting more than $19 million into the local economy,. USAID provided nearly $42 million to help combat cholera, helping to decrease the number of cases requiring hospitalization and reduce the case fatality rate.
From July 22 to 31, 2010, heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding in various regions of 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. USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) provided the NDMA with emergency relief commodities, including two mobile water treatment units and four Zodiac boats - worth more than $170,000, not including transport - from the OFDA warehouse in Dubai. OFDA deployed an assessment team to Pakistan, and staff in Washington, D.C. and Islamabad, Pakistan continued to monitor the situation in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and GoP officials. 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.
Shah’s ideas and strategic focus have drawn bi-partisan support as he has collaborated with Republican leaders on projects. In 2013, Shah travelled with Republican Senator James M. Inhofe to Ethiopia 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.,  This bi-partisan collaboration allows USAID increased support for implementing the agency’s ambitious goals.
Under Shah, the agency has embarked on numerous innovative programs. Creating and building public-private partnerships has been an important hallmark of the agency under Shah's leadership.Of note is the “New Alliance” that the Obama Administration announced at the 2012 G8 Summit held at Camp David. This private-public partnership consists of 45 companies who have pledged 3.5 billion dollars, along with the government towards food assistance programs in Africa., Focused on the sub-Saharan area, this initiative is aimed at empowering the African small-scale farmer and alleviating the plight of the 50 million Africans facing poverty. These goals will be accomplished by 1) Facilitating private African-based firms (which comprise over half of the total private companies) to offer seeds to small-scale farmers, 2) Improve small-scale agriculture in Africa 3) Enabling larger firms to invest so the small-scale farmer (typically female) can provide enough food to feed her family and earn a living through market exchange with the ultimate goal of ending the cycle of poverty in that community. The program was piloted in the African countries Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania.
Some other examples include partnering with MTV in Asia on a campaign focused on ending human trafficking. The Helping Babies Breathe project brought in the Norwegian firm, Laerdal Medical, to offer training to 18,000 health care providers across 27 countries in an effort to improve newborn resuscitation. The agency's 2012 campaign "Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday" brings together celebrities and makes use of online tools with the goal of preventing childhood death 
In November 2012, USAID announced plans to build a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for development. The $130 million initiative will allow USAID to partner with universities to support the design of "innovative, low-cost approaches to improving health and reducing poverty and conflicts.". In addition, the agency developed a reform agenda called USAID Forward. The reform agenda aims to change the way USAID does business, with new partnerships and an emphasis on innovation and focus on results. USAID Forward includes the following reforms in key areas: implementation and procurement reform, talent management, rebuilding policy capacity, strengthening monitoring and evaluation, rebuilding budget management, science and technology, and innovation.
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.
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. 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.
Dr. 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 – an effort referred to by Bill and Melinda Gates as their best investment. 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 World Health Organization estimates this initiative will save more than five million children's lives through the next decade, and a New York Times article described the effort as “a clever way to reduce the burden of costly diseases now and save money in the future.”
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 the City of 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.
In addition, Shah co-founded multiple nonprofit organizations including Project Impact for South Asian Americans. 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.
- "President Obama Announces USAID Administrator" (Press release). The White House. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- "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). U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts" (Press release). The White House. 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- "FWD the Facts About Famine, War and Drought in the Horn of Africa". Huffington Post. September 20, 2011.
- USAID Chief Shah Helps Wal-Mart Open Markets in Spending Shift By Michelle Jamrisko | September 07, 2011
- U-M alumnus to lead U.S. rescue project
- USAID Forward
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|Administrator of the Agency for International Development