At a Glance
- Career History:
Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics at the Department of Agriculture (June 2009 to present); Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2001 to 2009); Health care adviser to
's 2000 presidential campaign
- Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
- Alma Mater: University of Michigan, B.S.E. (economics), 1995; University of Pennsylvania, M.B.A., 2002; University of Pennsylvania, M.D., 2002
- Spouse: Shivam Mallick Shah
- DC Office: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
- Web site
Path to Power
Shah was born in Detroit, where his father worked at Ford Motors. His parents both immigrated from India.
Shah stayed in-state for college, studying economics at the University of Michigan. It was at Michigan that Shah developed a passion for international aid work, thanks to a trip to India Shah took as a volunteer with a group of doctors.
Shah took over USAID at a time when the agency was gearing up to play an increasingly larger role in U.S. diplomacy. After years of budget cuts under the George W. Bush administration, the organization has become essential to the challenges in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
The role has became even more prominent as Secretary of State Clinton outlined her vision for development as one of the central pillars of diplomacy. In a January 2010 speech, she said that she is committed to "rebuilding AID as the premier development agency in the world, bar none."
Shah is tapped into a network that includes former Vice President Al Gore, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and many members of the non-profit community, like Bill and Melinda Gates.
At the State Department, he'll work closely with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has called development one of the top tools in the U.S. foreign policy arsenal. He will also likely work with with Undersecretary of State for economic, energy and agricultural affairs Robert D. Hormats and Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero.
Shah gave $1,000 to President Barack Obama's presidential campaign in September 2009.