Resignation of Dr. Rajiv Shah as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
Secretary of State
Raj has been an outstanding Administrator, a creative innovator, and a dynamic leader. After five years, he absolutely deserves this transition, and he leaves USAID after making a dramatic mark — transforming this institution into one that's more entrepreneurial, more modern, and more nimble, while promoting resilient democracies and battling extreme poverty across the globe.
I first heard Raj’s name many years ago. He was known everywhere as a transformational leader in the field of development.
I was Chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he first came in front of the Committee and shared his vision for USAID. We confirmed him unanimously.
I did not know then that I’d be getting to know his heart and his poise, not just his intellect, when the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010.
Among the missing was an idealistic young woman from Massachusetts, Britney Gengel. Rep. Jim McGovern and I were desperately trying to provide answers for her family, and trying to bridge the distance between Worcester, Washington, and Port-au-Prince
Raj Shah was that bridge.
We got to know a leader who was already spending sleepless nights in his office, a hands-on manager who was coordinating our relief efforts and determined to get help where it was needed before it was too late, and a dad who could put himself in the shoes of the Gengel family and take time to comfort remarkable people who had lost so much.
Now for these last two years as Secretary of State, I’ve enjoyed the chance to work with Raj daily, and I’ve been impressed by his fresh thinking and his ability to come inside government and remain a change agent, particularly in driving a paradigm shift towards a new model of innovation, investment, and partnerships.
A lot of people wondered whether this was possible. Raj proved the skeptics wrong, and Development Lab, Feed the Future, Child Survival and Power Africa are proof of concept that will stand the test of time and the scrutiny of experts.
Raj will be known not just as USAID’s 16th Administrator, but as the Administrator who reached up, and reached out, bringing a whole new set of stakeholders to the table, enlisting the help of non-governmental difference makers including corporations, foundations, advocacy groups, and faith-based communities
Those partnerships are essential to creating the kind of sustainable change that builds from generation to generation, ending cycles of poverty and bringing societies to new levels of social and economic development. And those are the partnerships that Raj built.
What a legacy.