Rajiv Shah, Administrator for USAID, is a 39 year old physician who, in this moment of political uncertainty in the United States, is helping build Congressional bipartisanship to support USAID and its core mission in improving the lives of millions worldwide. To this end, Rajiv Shah leads by example.
Although it is sometimes lost in muddle of partisan politics and ideological difference, the basic guiding principle of any democratically-elected representative is that the officeholder wants to work to help better the lives of people other than themselves.
This basic pillar of what it means to be an elected official is what is allowing Dr. Shah to strengthen the bipartisan base of USAID as it continues to face ongoing criticism of its programs that are “widely viewed as wasteful and inefficient,” writes Emily Cadei of Roll Call.
From collaborating on a Project Mercy mission to Ethiopia with Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK), to attending a forum on food security at Mississippi State University with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), to speaking with crowds in Minnesota about the famine in Somalia with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN.), Dr. Shah is setting an example for us all on how to engage with officials to change the world for the better.
“Inhofe says Shah’s willingness to accompany him and his GOP colleagues on the trip to a project run by Project Mercy, a USAID grantee — something the senator has repeatedly visited and supported — illustrates the young USAID director’s zeal for helping the world’s desperately poor, an agenda that has long united progressives and religious conservatives,” writes Cadei.
In light of America’s currently-sensitive economic situation, Shah appears to be an effective and daring leader to increasingly stressed legislators. Shah has committed himself to slashing bureaucratic inefficiencies within USAID in order to increase support for the most hard-hitting programs and do away with those that have been assessed to be wasteful.
Despite the fact that advocating with legislators will help ensure support of USAID funding in Congress, Shah insists that there is more to gain from collaborating anti-poverty awareness than simple funding.
“No matter where you are on the political spectrum,” says Shah, “we as USAID can learn from everyone as to how to do this work better and more efficiently.”
– Nina Narang