Former President & CEO, Global Fund for Women Former Princeton University Trustee Former Representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, The Ford Foundation Currently Senior Advisor to the President of the Ford Foundation on Global Strategy
MPA, Class of 1988
Kavita is an inspirational and mindful leader, an advocate for human rights, open and civil societies, and a respected advisor and commentator on issues of social entrepreneurship, global development, women’s leadership, education, health, and philanthropy. Kavita has spent her professional life shaping a world where gender equality can help ensure human rights and dignity for all. Kavita is the Ford Foundation representative in its New Delhi office, serving India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Founded in 1952, the New Delhi office has the distinction of being the foundation’s first office outside of the United States and has cultivated a rich history of empowering the citizens of India and the region. In this role, Kavita is the Foundation’s leader in the region to many important constituencies. She assesses local political, social, cultural and economic developments, and helps shape the Foundation’s strategy in the region, and guides its programming and grant-making priorities in alignment with the Foundation’s mission, values and set of global initiatives.
Prior to this appointment Kavita was Executive Director of Ripples to Waves: a program on Social Entrepreneurship and Development at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She conceptualized and designed the program that builds bridges between grassroots activism, global philanthropy, academia and the private sector while empowering social entrepreneurs to share ideas on gender, democracy and civil society.
From 2010 through Spring 2011 Kavita was a Visiting Scholar and Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law CDDRL, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, PACS. In Spring 2011, she also served as Practitioner-in-Residence at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
From 1996 – 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 Global Fund’s assets increased to $21 million from $3 million, giving women in more than 170 countries access to financial capital that fueled innovation and change.
Kavita also worked as a Program Officer with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She serves on several boards and advisory councils, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and currently chairs the Global Agenda Council for India of the World Economic Forum.
Kavita was born and raised in India and educated at Delhi University, Mount Holyoke College, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.