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Former Gates Foundation Leader to be Nominated for USAID Administrator

by Global Washington Policy Coordinator Danielle Ellingston
Rajiv ShahRajiv Shah, formerly the director of agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be named to head USAID just in the nick of time.  He has already been confirmed by the Senate for a position in the Department of Agriculture, so it is possible that he will sail through confirmation for USAID administrator and we will have someone in place in early 2010.

Shah’s bio is impressive: he has an MD, a degree in economics, and a lot of international development experience.  He also has ties to the Seattle community, having served on many boards of local organizations including the Seattle Public Library and Agros International.

Much has been said about Shah’s youth- he is only 36 years old, which could be an asset but it may also work against him.  According to a hill staffer quoted by the Politico Blog, “He will be a good antidote to some of the stagnancy currently plaguing the agency and will hopefully have a mandate to fundamentally change the way business is done over there. … Also hear from the Agriculture Committee staff that he’s done a great job thus far and is very well-respected.”

It sounds like Shah may be the agent of change that is needed over at USAID, since talk about foreign aid reform is heating up.  2010 is going to be an important year for foreign aid reform. Read More

Blueprint for Action: Convene, Strengthen, Advocate in a Digital Democracy

blueprint_screenshotGlobal Washington just launched our crowdsourcing site, Blueprint for Action, a collaborative social media project dedicated to building a ‘digital democracy’. We encourage everyone willing to share an innovative idea for tackling global development challenges to participate in setting priorities for the sector. Blueprint for Action is an inclusive forum for you to connect with other progressive thinkers dedicated to eradicating poverty, improving global health, promoting human rights and empowering women around the world. By fostering a community of creative participation and open dialogue, we all strengthen our power and resolve against social and economic injustice.

To strengthen our unified voice, contribute your priority for global development in our Feedback Forum at:

To read about crowdsourcing as an emerging communication tool in philanthropy, take a peek at Kristi Heim’s profile in the Seattle Times. Read More

Rural Development Institute Receives $9 Million Grant!

The Rural Development Institute, a prolific organization committed to securing land rights for the rural poor around the world for the past forty years, received a $9 million dollar grant last week—the largest in the institute’s history. The Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment group started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, awarded RDI the impressive grant for their groundbreaking work in land reform policy.

According to Tim Hanstad, RDI’s president and CEO, “With this grant, RDI will begin implementing an ambitious three-year plan to bring secure land rights to 9 million families living in poverty,” he said. “These rights can bring about transformative economic and social benefits that improve well-being and restore dignity.”

It has been a landmark year for the land reformists. In addition to receiving the grant, RDI launched its Global Center for Women’s Land Rights, an initiative dedicated to procuring land ownership for women. Though much global development research speaks to women’s pivotal role in advancing economic growth, empowering women as key players in development continues to be met with resistance. The Global Center for Land Rights promotes women’s land ownership as a strategy for legally and socially legitimizing women’s participation in economic development.

Renée Giovarelli, Director of the Global Center for Women’s Land Rights, will participate in a panel on addressing poverty through women at Global Washington’s Annual Conference on December 7th. Global Washington’s Annual Conference will bring together the best and the brightest in the global development sector in an effort to solidify Washington State’s commitment to eradicating poverty, improving health outcomes, and increasing global access to quality education. For a full list of speakers in attendance and to register for the conference, click here.

Kristi Heim’s article for the Seattle Times on November 5th chronicles the Omidyar Network’s active participation Read More