Paru Desai

California Equity Journey Co-Leader; Social Impact Book Club Leader

Paru Desai is a strategist and advisor to global non-profits and international organizations. For over 20 years her work has focused on education, youth development, economic empowerment and innovative social venture models. She is a co-director of a partnership between GOAL! and Mathare Youth Sports Association to design a Girls’ Program focusing on education and empowerment of adolescent girls in the Mathare slums, Nairobi.

She is a  former Board Member and Partner at SV2 and Board Member at Firelight Foundation supporting community-based organizations to create sustainable change in Africa. She is also an Advisor to the Ethiopian Diaspora Network. She has served as US Chairperson of the Asante Africa Foundation, a leading education development organization focused on East Africa; Board Member and Vice Chair, International School of the Peninsula, a language immersion school in Palo Alto, CA; President of the San Francisco Chapter of Developments in Literacy; Board Member, COSAD (Community Solutions for Africa’s Development).

Paru’s search for innovation in sustaining economic development led to her co-founding Imuka, LLC a Tanzania-based traditional music group to empower the singers and their communities through their music. Imuka funded its growth by producing custom videos and a 3-month US tour with over 15 singers.

Her interest in education also included work with SecretBuilders, a Silicon Valley based start-up, an award winning on-line virtual community which combines gaming with learning to provide a unique environment for children to explore literature through play.

Paru’s career in international development began at the World Bank in Washington DC where she focused on gender issues for over six years. Paru has a BA in Chemistry from NC State University and a MA in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.