Neilesh Shelat

Portrait of Neilesh Shelat
Executive Secretary and Senior National Security Adviser

Neilesh Shelat is the USAID Executive Secretary and Senior National Security Adviser. In this role, he leads the team responsible for coordination of the work of the Agency internally, serving as the liaison between the bureaus and the offices of the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Agency Counselor, and front office staff. His team also handles the Agency’s relations with the White House, National Security Council, and other members of the interagency.

Most recently, Neilesh served as the Director for Development and Democracy at the National Security Council (NSC) where he played a major role coordinating the implementation of food security programming, security sector assistance, and U.S. strategies for climate change and water. He also helped oversee stability programming in Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, and efforts to counter violent extremism.

Prior to the NSC, Neilesh served five deployments over seven years working on USAID efforts in Afghanistan with US, NATO and Afghan military forces at the district, provincial and Embassy levels. He returned to Washington as one of the Agency’s inaugural ‘Afghan Hands’ where he served on the desk in the Office of Afghanistan/Pakistan Affairs (OAPA) prior to rotating back to Mission/Afghanistan as a program officer. As a Desk Officer, he lectured at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute and at several pre-deployment trainings for US and NATO militaries.

Prior to his U.S Government service, he worked for an implementing partner in their international health and Asia teams. After a stint with an NGO that delivered surplus medical equipment to developing countries, he worked in Chennai, India with marginalized HIV-positive communities. While in Chennai, and when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit southeast India, he led relief efforts in two coastal villages. His career started as a rural health extension volunteer in the US Peace Corps on the central Pacific atoll of Arorae, in the Republic of Kiribati. Neilesh has degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and from the Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.