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New USAID Administrator Named

November 10, 2009

2010243599-1The administration has named Dr. Rajiv Shah as their nominee for USAID administrator. Here is Secretary Clinton’s statement that was released a little while ago:

Dr. Raj Shah is a leader in the development community, an innovative and results-oriented manager, and someone who understands the importance of providing people around the world with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and chart their own destinies. By nominating Raj to lead the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), President Obama has reaffirmed that development must be a core pillar of American foreign policy.

A trained medical doctor and health economist, Raj has the skills and experience to lead a reinvigorated USAID in the 21st century. He has a record of delivering results in both the private and public sectors, forging partnerships around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, and developing innovative solutions in global health, agriculture, and financial services for the poor. He has led and worked with many of the initiatives that are defining best practice in the field of development, including the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His tireless efforts to immunize children around the world have helped save countless lives.

As Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Raj currently manages more than 10,000 federal employees and a budget of more than $2.6 billion, and works closely with Congress, the State Department, the White House, and the international development community on issues ranging from health and nutrition to bioenergy and climate change.

If confirmed, Raj will bring an impressive record of accomplishment and a deep understanding of what works in development to his role as USAID Administrator. I look forward to working closely with him to advance the President’s agenda and to elevate and integrate development in our foreign policy.

I want to take this opportunity to also commend Acting USAID Administrator Alonzo L. Fulgham for his service. Under his steady leadership, we have launched a number of ambitious development initiatives, including on global health and food security, in the first months of this administration that will improve lives around the world. I also want to thank the thousands of career professionals who work tirelessly every day to fulfill USAID’s important mission.

Here is more on Dr. Shah:

The Obama administration has found yet another job for Rajiv Shah, the former Gates Foundation executive who has spent the past five months at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Shah, 36, has been nominated to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to reports quoting unnamed U.S. officials.

Shah was running the Gates Foundation’s agriculture development program when he was tapped for the agricultural post as Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, as well as chief scientist, at the USDA.

Shah holds degrees in medicine and economics. A health care policy adviser on Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Shah joined the Gates Foundation in 2001 where he worked as policy analyst and senior economist and developed an innovative program for vaccine financing. He served as director of strategic opportunities and deputy director of policy and finance for the global health program. While in Seattle, Shah served on the boards of the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Community College District.

Meanwhile the top job at America’s foreign assistance program has gone vacant for nine months at a time when the program and the Foreign Assistance Act need serious revamping, development experts say. The USAID’s international affairs budget request for 2009 was close to $40 billion.

The Gates Foundation has shown its growing clout in the capital with Bill Gates among Obama’s first visitors to the White House, influencing education policy, and Bill and Melinda Gates recently appearing before policy makers in Washington D.C., calling on them to maintain the U.S. commitment to foreign aid and global health funding.

Why Shah? It helps that he has already gone through the official vetting process, which has put off other candidates…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn (Rodham) permalink
    November 12, 2009 12:35 pm

    So, not Dr. Paul Farmer — her first choice. I gather the White House had reservations about the fact that at one point he personally brought $10,000 in to Haiti (where he has organized treatment for 1,000 patients/day for free) in an effort to continue relief efforts. Too bad. This guy is the real deal — indefatiguable, self-sacrificing, utterly dedicated; he’s made it his mission to transform health care on a global scale, by focusing on the world’s poorest and sickest communities, and has done it in a very personal, hands-on way (as opposed to administrating from a distance).

    • November 12, 2009 1:36 pm

      I really wish it had been Farmer and I think Hillary did too. Ironically, it’s the people who have actually been out there on the front lines who are going to have the hardest time getting through the vetting process- just another one of those stupid things about govt that no one will change- the vetting process is a huge turnoff for tons of people who would otherwise be great nominees and public servants.

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