Shalala replaces Eric Braverman, who had been a consultant for McKinsey & Co. before serving as the foundation's chief for less than two years before resigning.
The foundation has raised nearly $2 billion and engaged in respected philanthropic work around the world, particularly in lowering the cost of HIV/AIDs drugs, improving the lives of women and girls, and encouraging economic development in impoverished regions.
As Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to run for president, the foundation has also faced intense scrutiny, particularly for its vigorous fundraising from major corporate interests and its receipt of donations from foreign governments and organizations.
A Washington Post analysis found that more than a third of the foundation's largest donors were based outside the United States. The foundation also accepted millions from seven foreign governments while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.
In a statement issued by the foundation, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton jointly said that Shalala's "leadership will enable the Clinton Foundation to build on our nearly 15 years of helping millions of people around the world live their best life story, and we have no doubt that she will be a great asset in strengthening the Clinton Foundation’s future."