Parita Shah

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Parita Shah, Chief of Staff, Millennium Challenge CorporationBenjamin To / NBC News

Parita Shah

Chief of Staff, Millennium Challenge Corporation

How did you get here?

It all started with a call to 411 nearly 20 years ago. I knew I wanted to be a public servant one day so I decided to call information and get the number to the White House (pre-Internet) to apply for an internship. A few months later, I was accepted into the program and became an intern in First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office. That experience gave me the foundation for my career and a network of amazing friends and colleagues who have helped me grow along the way.

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?

My parents. As a first generation American, I am fortunate that my parents supported me and pushed me to pursue whatever I aspired to, which in my case was a somewhat unconventional career path for an Indian American. Through this, I have learned that following my passion was a critical part of having a fulfilling career.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?

I am fortunate to have had so many rewarding experiences, from being a part of the team at the Department of Commerce that launched the President’s National Export Initiative to create more American jobs, to working for my mentor Ambassador Gary Locke in China, to being a part of a stellar team at the Millennium Challenge Corporation – an agency that is on the cutting edge of international development work. I could not have planned a better experience to have in this Administration. One thing I have learned through all of these experiences is that having a diversity of backgrounds and voices at the table improves decision making.

Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?

I’m part of this big, diverse family that’s made history together.

Complete the sentence: “When I’m not working, I…”

When I’m not working, I like to travel with my husband and experience people, food and cultures around the world. I'm also a film buff so I spend a lot of time watching good movies - from academy award nominees to those in my own category of “classics” like Coming to America and Police Academy 3. But what I love most is rooting for USC football…Fight On Trojans!

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