Kavita N. Ramdas is senior advisor to Ford’s president, Darren Walker, on issues related to the foundation’s work in changing contexts around the world.
Before assuming this position in 2015, Kavita served for three years as representative for the foundation’s office in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There, her work focused on issues of equity, inclusion, economic fairness, freedom of expression, human rights, sexuality and reproductive health and rights, transparency and accountable governance, and sustainable development. Kavita also worked to leverage relationships with government, civil society, and the private sector to advance social justice.
Before joining the foundation, Kavita served as the founder and first executive director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship (PSE), housed at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. PSE brings global leaders in social innovation to share their expertise as practitioners with the academic community.
From 1996 to 2010, Kavita served as president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, which grew under her leadership to become the world’s largest public foundation for women’s rights. During her tenure, the fund’s assets increased from $3 million to $21 million—giving women in more than 170 countries access to financial capital that fueled innovation and change.
In addition, Kavita has broadly promoted women’s human rights, social justice philanthropy, and international development through her membership and professional affiliations on the boards and advisory councils of a diverse array of organizations. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for India and serves as a board member at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Kavita holds a master’s degree in public affairs with a focus on international development from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She has a bachelor’s degree in politics and international relations from Mount Holyoke and academic training from Delhi University. She is fluent in Hindi/Urdu, English, and German and is conversant in Tamil, Spanish, and French.