Thursday, November 12, 2009

Obama Appoints Head of USAID

The White House announced today that they have nominated Dr. Rajiv Shah to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Shah has been the Under-Secretary for the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area at USDA for the past ten months. Before his appointment as Under Secretary, Shah spent seven years as the Director of Agricultural Development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and he campaigned with both President Obama and former Vice President Al Gore. Shah has a medical degree and an MS in health economics.

USAID is at the center of the State Department’s new policy favoring international development and diplomacy, but the agency has suffered severe funding cuts in the last twenty years. Apparently, the appointment of the position was delayed due to an intense vetting process.

The Science Policy Office has worked extensively with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and REE under Shah. We look forward to continuing this relationship as we work with USAID. We appreciate his support and wish him the best in his new position.

For more information, see articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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