The Rockefeller Foundation has named Rajiv J Shah, the former head of USAID, as its new president, saying he would step up on March 1 when Judith Rodin departs after 11 years at the helm.
“The appointment will make Mr Shah one of the most powerful forces in charitable giving, overseeing a foundation that donates roughly $200 million every year and corrals governments, companies and organisations to contribute money and resources in tandem,” according to The New York Times.
At 43, Shah, who was born in Michigan in the US to Indian immigrant parents, will be the foundation’s youngest president.
He held various leadership roles with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation before joining USAID. The Rockefeller Foundation said in a statement that Shah had rethought and transformed USAID, earning “bipartisan accolades and support in Washington”.
Shah comes to the presidency with knowledge of the foundation, having served on the board of trustees since March 2015. Also, in his role of director of strategic opportunities at the Gates Foundation, he collaborated with the Rockefeller Foundation to launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
The foundation also mentioned his experience as an investor in the private sector. He was the founder of Latitude Capital, giving him “the perspective and experience required to forge durable private-public partnerships”, it said.
Richard D Parsons, Rockefeller Foundation chairman, said: “Raj has delivered results when the stakes are high, mobilising the public, civil society and private sectors to respond to some of the greatest humanitarian crises in recent world history, including the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.
“Whether it is related to hunger, health, social justice, disaster relief efforts, or investing in energy access, Raj’s strong focus on results has distinguished his leadership.”
Parsons said he was very grateful to the outgoing president, Rodin, for helping to ensure a smooth and effective transition. He said the commitment to an efficient and orderly process had been a hallmark of the search since Rodin announced her intent to step down six months ago.
“We are all so proud of Judith’s tenure: she transformed the foundation and positioned us as a global leader in innovative philanthropy,” he added.