By: Ari Alexander, Director, Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and Senior Advisor to the Administrator for NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement
Yesterday President Obama hosted a prayer breakfast observing the Christian holiday of Easter in the East Room of the White House. In only its second year, President Obama is the first President to host such an event for Easter, and was honored to be joined by pastors and leaders from around the nation. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah attended the morning prayer breakfast and was recognized for his extraordinary leadership in the President’s remarks.
“Before I begin, I want to acknowledge one particular member of my administration who I’m extraordinarily proud of and does not get much credit, and that is USAID Administrator, Dr. Raj Shah, who is doing great work with faith leaders. […] Raj is doing great work with faith leaders on our Feed the Future global hunger program, as well as on a host of other issues. We could not be prouder of the work that he’s doing.”
Following the breakfast, attendees gathered for a series of policy briefings from various U.S. government agencies. The discussion included topics on: energy and climate change; immigration; fatherhood and healthy families; human trafficking; and international development. Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council, spoke eloquently about development, calling the gathered faith leaders “champions of dignity” for those often forgotten. She highlighted the importance of the Presidential Policy Directive on Development as well as the role of USAID and Administrator Shah in leading the Feed the Future initiative. The gathering was a unique opportunity to gather religious leaders from around the nation for a moment of reflection during Holy Week and to dialogue about ways to partner together in caring for the most vulnerable.
You can view the full transcript or video of the President’s remarks.