The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City has announced the appointment of board member Rajiv J. Shah, a former USAID administrator, as its next president. He will succeed Judith Rodin, who has served as the foundation's president for nearly twelve years.
Shah, 43, will be the youngest person and the first Indian-American to lead the foundation. Born and raised outside Detroit, Shah earned advanced degrees in medicine and health finance from the University of Pennsylvania and, as a graduate student, founded the nonprofit Project Impact for South Asian Americans. In 2001, he joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he became director for agricultural development and helped launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, a joint venture of the Gates and Rockefeller foundations. In 2009, he served as chief scientist and undersecretary of agriculture for research, education, and economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, before being appointed to lead USAID.
During his tenure at the agency (2010-2015), Shah led the U.S. response to a number of major disasters, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Rockefeller and USAID also partnered to launch the Global Resilience Partnership, a $100 million partnership aimed at building resilience to chronic social stresses and climate-related shocks across Africa and Asia. In addition, he is the founder of Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on emerging markets, and a distinguished fellow in residence at Georgetown University.
According to the New York Times, the foundation initially had asked Shah to serve on the search committee for Rodin's successor after she announced last June that she planned to step down. Shah declined, saying he wanted to be considered for the post.
"I am thrilled to be passing the baton to Raj Shah," said Rodin, who led the foundation's adoption of a new strategic operating model characterized by partnerships with business and government, performance measurement, and innovation and helped develop the fields of climate resilience and impact investing. "I have had the pleasure of working with Raj over many years: when he was at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as USAID administrator, and as a Rockefeller Foundation trustee. In all our collaborations, I've seen his intelligence, his drive for high impact, and his commitment to humanity. I know the next chapter of the Rockefeller Foundation will be bright with Raj Shah at the helm."
"For over a century, the Rockefeller Foundation has been at the forefront of providing solutions to the world's most pressing challenges," said Shah. "I am honored and inspired by the opportunity to build on this hundred-and-three-year history of results and lasting impact. I look forward to charting a course for the Rockefeller Foundation to engage with partners to promote the well-being of humanity and to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow both in the United States and around the world."