Distinguished Alumnus 2020

Paul F. Niehaus, Ph.D. '00


Each year, St. John's Prep proudly recognizes an alumnus whose life personifies the spirit and values of the Xaverian Brothers and the extraordinary commitment of our faculty and staff. In all endeavors, this individual models for fellow alumni what it means to be a Prep graduate and inspires current students to be change makers and forces for good in the world.

St. John's Prep is honored to recognize the service and leadership of Dr. Paul Niehaus '00. As an entrepreneur, advocate for economic advancement around the world, and teacher, Paul exemplifies the best of the Prep community and serves as a model to which we hope our current students and young alumni will aspire. Paul was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at a special reception on March 11, 2020 in addition to spending a day on campus, talking with student leaders and visiting classrooms. In May, Paul will celebrate his 20th St. John's Prep Reunion and attending Commencement events.

Paul is co-founder and chairman of GiveDirectly, currently the top-rated nonprofit by GiveWell and ranked among the 25 most audacious companies (Inc) and 10 most innovative companies in finance (Fast Company). GiveDirectly is a recognized leader in the use of modern technology to transfer funds directly to the extreme poor, and in the use of rigorous scientific methods to document its impact. Paul is also a co-founder of Segovia, which builds enterprise technology for the management of social programming in the emerging markets.

Paul holds an academic appointment in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego, where he works with governments in India to improve the implementation of social programming. He is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a Junior Affiliate at the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), an Affiliate of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and an Affiliate at the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA). He holds a PhD in economics from Harvard University and is a National Science Foundation Fellow and a Sloan Fellow. In 2013 Foreign Policy named him one of its 100 leading "Global Thinkers."

Established in 1993, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, allows our school community to present a living example of faith, brotherhood, and wisdom to our students. We continually strive for excellence in all that we do, and our Distinguished Alumnus is someone who has achieved professional success; has shown a commitment to lifelong learning; pursues enduring personal relationships; and serves as a model for servant leadership in the Catholic, Xaverian tradition. See the list of all St. John's Prep Distinguished Alumni!

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