Mr. Dinesh Shrestha — Co-founder and Director of Field Operations
Dinesh's history with Room to Read began in 1998 when he first met and collaborated with John Wood to launch what was then known as Books for Nepal. At the time, Dinesh was working as chief of operations for the German Technical Corporation's Rural Development Program and later held a position with the World Health Organization — all the while volunteering with Room to Read. In 2001, Dinesh became Room to Read's first official full-time country director in Nepal, where he led activities for eight years and ultimately established Room to Read as an influential non-governmental organization dedicated to improving education for children in Nepal. In 2008, Dinesh transitioned to the role of regional human resources and administration director for Asia and recently took over the new position of director of field operations.
Ms. Rakhi Sarkar — Country Director, Bangladesh
Rakhi comes to Room to Read with over 20 years of experience in the development sector and vast experience in executing country and regional strategies. Rakhi has worked in a wide variety of sectors including: education, health, HIV & AIDS, disability, youth, gender, and volunteering. Prior to joining Room to Read, Rakhi worked for Voluntary Services Organization (VSO), the world's leading organization in offering volunteers the chance to work abroad to fight poverty in developing countries. She started working with VSO in India as a Program Officer and has represented VSO as Country Director since 2005 in various countries including Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Rakhi holds post graduate degrees in Rural Development from Xavier Institute of Social Services in Ranchi and in Human Resource Development from Birla Institute of Liberal Arts and management sciences in Kolkata.
Mr. Kall Kann — Country Director, Cambodia
Kall comes to Room to Read with over 14 years of experience in the international development sector, including over four years working specifically in educational development in Cambodia. Prior to becoming Room to Read's country director in Cambodia, Kall held senior management positions in many international organizations, utilizing his expertise in developing strategic partnerships and project planning and management. Most recently, Kall worked as the policy, planning and reporting director for Save the Children in Norway. Prior to that, he served for five years as managing director for Trans-Cultural Psychosocial Organization. Kall holds a master's degree in business management from Norton University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Mr. Unmesh Mukund Brahme — Country Director, India
Unmesh joined Room to Read 2013. He is a Yale World Fellow with a career that spans two decades in the fields of social development, business and academia. Before joining Room to Read, Unmesh headed HSBC India’s corporate social responsibility, sustainability and climate change practice. Previously, he also served as head of brand and corporate social responsibility at Ogilvy and Mather Advertising. His extensive development experience includes work with both Oxfam and the World Bank. Unmesh serves on the boards of the Global Business School Network, the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and the Sesame Workshop India. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mumbai.
Ms. Norkham Souphanouvong — Country Director, Laos
Norkham joined Room to Read in 2013 with over 20 years of experience in the development sector and more than thirteen years focusing on education development in Laos, Mongolia and East-Timor. Previously, she managed a wide range of educational development programs for organizations, such as UNICEF and Save the Children UK. Her expertise includes creating child-friendly schools, establishing education equivalency, curriculum development, inclusive education programs, early childhood education, school-based life skills training and coordinating education clusters in emergency situations. While serving as a policy specialist for basic education and gender equality at UNICEF Laos, Norkham supported the Ministry of Education in developing key policies, strategy and legislation related to education. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the National University of Singapore and a bachelor’s degree in education from the National University of Laos.
Mr. Vishnu Karki — Country Director, Nepal
Dr. Karki comes to Room to Read with more than 27 years of extensive experience purely dedicated to the education sector. He started his career in government service as Section Officer in the Ministry of Education, and held different positions in the government while he worked there. After government service, he performed consulting services for government and donor agencies with a focus on the evaluation and assessment of various education programs. Over the years, Dr. Karki has performed a wide range of development activities funded by bilateral and multi-lateral donor agencies in education sector as an EMIS Expert, Senior Researcher and Evaluation Expert, Program and Policy Specialist, Capacity Development Expert, Decentralization and Local Capacity Building Expert, and Education Reform Specialist. He also worked for Save the Children as Senior Education Specialist.
Ms. Shevanthi Jayasuriya — Country Director, Sri Lanka
Shevanthi joined Room to Read in May 2013. She brings with her twenty years of diverse experience in both the corporate and private sectors. Previously, she was the Chief of Party for USAID’s Accelerated Skills Acquisition Programme, where she managed and implemented programs in the war-affected North, Central and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Her experience includes program design, resource mobilisation, donor relations, monitoring and evaluation, administration, budget management and leadership of large-scale development programmes. Additionally, she brings unique experience from the private sector in management, restructuring, sales and marketing—delivering results with a strong focus on transparency and accountability. She served as head of communications for the Peace Secretariat, Sri Lanka and contributed to the peace process at a crucial stage in Sri Lanka’s history. She holds an MBA in business administration from the University of Hull, United Kingdom.
Mr. Tien Phong Le — Country Director, Vietnam
Phong has worked for a number of large organizations in Vietnam and has also been a consultant for donor institutions such as GTZ, UNIDO, FAO, AUSAID, and the World Bank. For the past three years, he has been the Southern Regional Manager for ActionAid/Vietnam which has been implementing a well-regarded education program throughout the country. Phong has a master’s degree in natural resource management, with a specialization in sustainable development, from the International Institute of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands.
Dr. Philip Christensen — Country Director, South Africa
Dr. Philip Christensen has lived and worked in Africa since 1980, focusing on the design of learning systems that improve lives. While on this continent he has inaugurated a pioneering online education company in South Africa, managed six multi-million-dollar, donor-funded educational development projects covering 15 countries, and consulted on a variety of international development initiatives. His most recent assignments include serving as Regional Project Director for Farmer Voice Radio, a six-year adult-education initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, followed by proposal development work for literacy and girls’ education in Northern Nigeria and Haiti. Phil holds both South African and U.S. citizenship. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology from Harvard University and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts.
Dr. Zubeida Tumbo-Masabo — Country Director, Tanzania
Zubeida brings with her more than 27 years of experience from the education and holds a Doctorate in Education, specializing in applied linguistics with emphasis on communication, from the Teachers College, Columbia University. She also received post-doctoral training in behavioral and health research from the Medical School, Harvard University. She has been a research fellow at the University of Dar es Salaam specializing in lexicography and translation, teaching research methodology to graduate students in Development Studies and Kiswahili Literature and Gender. Zubeida has been involved in adolescent reproductive health since 1989 as a researcher and facilitator. She has worked closely with organizations in preparing publications and programmes for children and people regarding reproductive health and life skills. She has also been in contact with non-governmental organizations working in the field of life skills and reproductive health that have conducted studies and outreach programmes on girls education, including life skills education. In her previous work as an education specialist at UNICEF, she has been working with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) in supporting policy dialogue for the re-entry of pregnant school girls. She has managerial experience through her work as an Associate Director for the Institute of Kiswahili Research. In addition, she is a trainer in Human Rights Approach to Programming, Result Based Management and Gender.
Ms. Samantha Chuula — Country Director, Zambia
Samantha comes to Room to Read from the British Council’s Active Citizens Programme, which operates in 19 countries throughout Africa. As program manager, she pioneered expansion into Pakistan and Eastern Europe and led the creation of several new programs addressing world issues such as leadership, gender equality and literacy. She is also the treasurer for HOPE Worldwide, an orphans and vulnerable children’s charity. Samantha obtained a bachelor’s degree in applied social science from Coventry University and trained as a qualified social worker before emigrating to Zambia in 1997.
Mr. Geoffrey Odaga — Associate Director, Africa
A national from Uganda, Geoffrey’s experience in international development spans 20 years across Africa, Asia and Latin America. He joined RtR from the Civil Society Education Fund, where he served as its Global Coordinator from 2006-2012; overseeing a World Bank supported Civil Society Education Programme, funded by 17 bilateral donors and operational in 56 Developing Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Prior to this, he served in senior management positions with 5 major INGOs overseeing programmes in Africa. With a strong commitment to education as a human right, Geoffrey has accomplished several international assignments and has extensive international management experience. He holds a degree in Development Studies, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and Social Administration and an advanced training in NGO Management attained from Denmark.