As President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women from 1996 to 2010, Ramdas led the largest public grant-making organization in the world supporting women's human rights in over 170 countries. During her tenure at the Global Fund for Women, Ramdas more than tripled the Fund's assets allowing grant-making to increase 12 percent annually, and expanded the Fund's portfolio of investees threefold. Harnessing her exceptional skills and networks to lead this new program, Ramdas will bring social entrepreneurs, academics, and students together at Stanford to advance research and accelerate social change.
"Kavita Ramdas is one of the world's most respected international development practitioners, social justice advocates, and thinkers in the emerging field of social entrepreneurship," said CDDRL deputy director and co-investigator for this project, Kathryn Stoner. "At Stanford, Kavita recognized the need to bring a practitioner's perspective into the classroom and infuse our research agenda with a first-hand account of the challenges confronting the developing world. The Program on Social Entrepreneurship will bring global practitioners to Stanford to engage our students, faculty, and researchers in more active exchange and connection to the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century."
The Program on Social Entrepreneurship will be housed at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where interdisciplinary research is conducted by leading faculty, scholars, and students. Deborah L. Rhode the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession at the Stanford Law School will serve jointly with Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute, as a faculty principle investigator to the program.
"We are thrilled that Kavita Ramdas is joining the ranks at CDDRL to advance our research on global under-development, poverty reduction, and economic growth," said CDDRL Director Larry Diamond. "She will bring to the Center a wealth of practical experience and a passionate commitment to supporting grassroots initiatives and leaders who are pioneering new approaches to intractable problems worldwide, all of which will be a wonderful asset to our center and students, the Freeman Spogli Institute, and to Stanford."
The Program on Social Entrepreneurship will join four other core research programs at CDDRL, which probe the most urgent issues in the field of democracy and development today, including; information and communication technology's impact on political development, how human rights can best be deployed to advance social justice, the state of poverty and governance in Latin America, and the prospects for democratic reform in the Arab world. Working in partnership with other institutes on campus, the program will benefit from the guidance and active engagement of a cross-disciplinary faculty advisory committee at the Haas Center for Public Service, the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford Law School, Stanford Medical School, and the Center for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business.
The hallmark of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship is an eight-week "entrepreneur in residence" initiative that will bring four rising leaders to Stanford twice a year to expose researchers, students, and the local philanthropic community to the ideas, visions, and strategies they are using to transform their societies. These social entrepreneurs drawn from the U.S. and abroad will have the opportunity to reflect on their work, engage the scholarly community to advance research on this emerging field, and galvanize international support for their innovative work. Visiting entrepreneurs will be featured in seminars, courses, and special events across the larger university and the Silicon Valley during their residency at Stanford to reach as broad an audience as possible.
During the 2010-11 academic year, Ramdas was in residence at Stanford University as a visiting scholar and fellow at CDDRL and the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. During that time she co-taught a course at the School of Education examining the aspects of gender, education, and development. In spring 2011, she served as practitioner-in-residence at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Prior to her time at the Global Fund for Women, Ramdas developed and implemented grant-making programs to combat poverty and inequality in inner cities across the United States and to advance women’s reproductive health on a global scale as a program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Ramdas's extensive experience in the fields of global development, human rights, women's leadership, and philanthropy extend to her array of prestigious affiliations and awards. At present, she serves on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and Mount Holyoke College, both of which are her alma maters. Ramdas's leadership skills were recognized early in her tenure at the Global Fund for Women when she was selected to the prestigious Henry Crown Fellowship at the Aspen Institute.
Her accomplishments in the nonprofit field have led her to serve as an advisor and board member to a number of leading foundations and organizations, including; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Advisory Council of the University of Chicago’s Global Health Initiative, the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Advisory Council of the Asian University for Women, PAX World Management, and the Council of Advisors on Gender Equity of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University. She has just been invited by the United States Department of State to chair their new initiative on Women and Public Service, an effort spearheaded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer. Ramdas also chairs the Expert Working Group of the Council of Global Leaders for Reproductive Health, an initiative of the Aspen Institute led by Mary Robinson former President of Ireland. Ramdas continues to provide strategic oversight and guidance to the Global Fund for Women in her capacity as a member of the Global Fund’s Council of Advisors.
Ramdas received academic training from Delhi University, a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations from Mount Holyoke College, and a master's degree in public affairs with a focus on international economic development from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
"I look forward to launching this new program and joining the dynamic community at CDDRL and Stanford University," said incoming executive director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, Kavita Ramdas. "There is so much potential to catalyze the energy and expertise of the practitioner community and enhance the research of faculty and everyday learning experience of the student. I am confident that together we will transform ripples into waves of long-term transformational change across the developing world through this program."