Who will be the next USAID administrator?

By Michael Igoe 20 January 2015

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

Igoe michael 1
Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.

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