Management Team

Erin GanjuCo-Founder and CEO

Erin Keown Ganju is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Room to Read. From the early start-up days of Room to Read, she has been instrumental in the design and implementation of the Organization’s scalable, replicable model for improving the quality of education across Asia and Africa. She oversees Room to Read’s global operations which includes implementing programs in ten countries, fundraising teams in North America, Europe, Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and a worldwide staff of more than 900 employees. Erin has been selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs for 2014 and in 2012 was one of Fast Company’s Extraordinary Women. Before founding Room to Read, Erin worked at Unilever, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and technology start-ups. She has spent extensive time working and living in Asia, where she saw firsthand the need to enhance developing countries’ educational systems. Erin holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in international relations and economics from The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

Lynn Foden — Chief of International Operations 

Lynn serves as the Chief of International Operations for Room to Read, coordinating and supporting the teams, tools and systems for the efficient and effective implementation of Room to Read’s country operations.  She has over 25 years of experience working in developing countries in the public, private and non-profits sectors.  Lynn has extensive involvement developing strategic partnerships, negotiating agreements with governments and partners and overseeing operational implementations of programs. In her most recent role as Chief of Operations for the Africa Region of Peace Corps, Lynn was responsible for the strategic vision and daily operations for 27 countries, 30 direct reports, 3,500 volunteers and a budget of $90 million. Lynn holds a master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy with a focus on Economic Policy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University and a master’s degree in Business Administration, with a focus on Technology Management, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Shari Freedman — Chief Financial Officer

Shari has over 25 years of international financial, non-profit and administrative management experience with companies ranging in size from $35MM - $150B.  Prior to joining Room to Read, she served as CFO at Niman Ranch, Wordwise, Inc. and most recently with One Medical Group – all for-profit companies but with important social missions as well.  Prior to that, she provided international financial and administrative management to best in class global branded companies, including Gap, PepsiCo and GM.  She was one of the San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business in 2012.  Shari’s non-profit experience includes chairing the boards of both JVS (Jewish Vocational Service) and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and actively supporting startups with a focus on increasing capital for women entrepreneurs.  Her academic pedigree includes courses at Harvard, an MBA from Georgetown and a BA from American University.  

Dr. Cory Heyman Chief Innovation Officer; Executive Director, Room to Read Accelerator

Cory serves as Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director, Accelerator supporting Room to Read’s external technical assistance projects, and visioning for the longer-term programmatic growth and strategic positioning of the organization as a whole. Previously Cory served as Room to Read Chief Program Officer and has acted as a close advisor to Room to Read since 2004, when he assisted in developing the organization’s first monitoring and evaluation study. Cory’s research and project work over the past 20 years has focused on strategies to increase access to quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged children around the world. Having worked at the nexus of public, private, and non-profit sectors, Cory has managed large-scale educational projects in the United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. He is the author of more than 20 academic and professional publications. Cory received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and has a doctorate in sociology from John Hopkins University.

Dr. Geetha Murali Chief Development Officer

Geetha is Room to Read’s Chief Development Officer and oversees all resource development functions. In her previous role at Room to Read, she was Development Director leading Room to Read’s Corporations and Foundations team and supporting corporate partnerships in the US, as well as the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and India. Geetha has over 15 years of diverse experience across the corporate and non-profit sectors.  She has worked with pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Chiron as well with educational technology programs like the Digital Equalizer Program (American India Foundation) and Adobe Youth Voices (Adobe Systems Incorporated). During her time with the American India Foundation, she was responsible for major corporate partnerships that supported the growth of the Digital Equalizer program into 13 states across India. Geetha received her master's degree in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master's and doctorate degrees in South Asian Politics from the University of California at Berkeley. She has also held an Adjunct Faculty position at Mills College.

Heather Simpson Chief Program Officer

Heather Simpson serves as Chief Program Officer for Room to Read supporting Room to Read’s Literacy Program, the Girls’ Education Program, and the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation unit. Prior to joining Room to Read she was Senior Director for Education and Child Protection at Save the Children where she was responsible for programming and advocacy to support children’s early development, improving learning outcomes, health, wellbeing and protection in more than 45 countries. She has two decades of progressive professional experience in the United States government, non-profit, and private consulting sectors. She has designed and managed medium and large-scale educational projects in Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, and the United States, and served as the technical advisor for a range of social development interventions in educational development, improving learning outcomes, girls’ education, teacher professional development, youth empowerment, distance learning, agricultural extension, program evaluation, and applied research. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and coordinator in agricultural extension in Honduras. Ms. Simpson completed her undergraduate studies in anthropology at Yale University and completed her graduate studies in social foundations of education at the University of Virginia.

Pierre Towns Chief Talent Officer

Pierre has 30 years of experience in international human resources. Prior to joining Room to Read, Pierre co-founded and served as managing partner of Human Resource Capital Consultants Inc., a full-service human resources consulting firm serving both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. He has taught courses in human resources at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and California State University, San Marcos. Prior to running his own consulting business, Pierre worked for ARCO, a publicly held oil and gas company, for nearly 20 years heading up human resources and administration for ARCO Latin America, Caracas, Venezuela, which included Central and South America, and the Caribbean. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and administrative studies from the University of California, Riverside, and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.


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Literacy Program Schools 18,699
Books Checked Out per Student


Books Published 1,290
Books Distributed 18 Million
Girls' Education Participants


Children Benefited 10.7 million

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2014 Annual Report

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