Who will lead U.S. foreign aid and humanitarian relief programs?

When Rajiv Shah steps down as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development early next month, someone will take over leadership of the U.S. government’s $20 billion foreign assistance portfolio. But who?

In the short term, we know the answer. Current Deputy Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt will step in as acting administrator when Shah vacates his position, and it is possible Lenhardt will ride out the remaining two years of the Obama administration in that role. It took almost a year to nominate and confirm Shah, after the administration vetted and considered other candidates, including health luminary Paul Farmer, who eventually ducked out of contention.

With the current level of antagonism between Capitol Hill and the White House, most aid watchers are skeptical the process would be any easier today. But Shah’s departure has still given rise to plenty of speculation — as well as some strongly worded arguments that failing to nominate a new administrator would cause the agency to suffer and backslide.

Former Sen. Richard Lugar wrote in an op-ed for The Hill that it would be a mistake to “let the agency coast on the momentum built up over the last five years.”

Lugar added: “If the White House values the global development mission it will nominate a high profile figure — irrespective of party — with the international and political credentials necessary to make the agency a critical player.”

So who are those people?

We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most likely candidates to succeed Raj Shah as administrator.

Click through, enjoy, and let us know who you would like to see at the helm of U.S. foreign assistance in 2015 and beyond.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.