- She currently leads the Open Society Foundations' Women's Rights Program.
Gender equity and justice advocate Kavita N. Ramdas has been named president and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF), a multigenerational family foundation working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable, and democratic society. Ramdas, who currently leads the Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program, will join NCF on October 4. She will succeed interim President and CEO Rey Ramsey, who will continue to serve on the board and support the foundation’s mission-aligned investing activities, according to an NCF press release.
“Incredibly honored and excited for this new chapter — gratitude for the opportunity to continue to advance justice, peace and equity,” Ramdas tweeted on Aug. 31.
In the NCF press release, board chair Jaimie Mayer described Ramdas as “one of those rare leaders who has a searing intellect and genuine humility,” who “fearlessly speaks truth to power and constantly listens to the members of our communities with the least voice. Most important of all, she has a walk-through-walls commitment to pursuing justice for people and the planet.”
Calling it “a dream role,” for her, Ramdas said “NCF is one of the boldest foundations in the world in terms of its values, grants, impact investments, and shareholder activism. As a result, it is a critically important leader on racial justice and climate solutions, at an inflection moment when the world desperately needs to see America do the right thing.”
NCF says “Ramdas has become one of the world’s most powerful and inspirational voices for justice and equality here in the U.S. and around the globe.” Before joining the Open Society Foundation, she served as a strategy advisor for MADRE, an international women’s rights organization. Before that, she led the Ford Foundation’s operations in South Asia and then became a senior advisor to president Darren Walker on global strategy. She has also served as the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, which she transformed into the world’s largest public foundation for women’s rights.
Ramdas also founded a program on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University and worked to combat domestic poverty and support community solutions at the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
She serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Grist, an environmental-justice organization. She founded a program on Social Entrepreneurship that is housed at Stanford University. She is a TED speaker and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, as a former trustee of several institutions Princeton University, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Women’s Link Worldwide, among others. She has served as an advisor to the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Room to Read, Trickle Up, and the American India Foundation. Additionally, she was on the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum; and on the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation.
Ramdas, who speaks five languages, was born in Delhi, India, and grew up in Mumbai, Delhi, London, Rangoon, and Bonn. She is married to the writer and scholar Zulfiqar Ahmad, a native of Pakistan. They live in Inwood, New York, and have an adult daughter, who works in the social sector.