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.
Mr. Jon Beaulieu — Regional Director, Asia
Jon comes to Room to Read from the International Labor Organization in Geneva where he helped reform programs in Pakistan and Liberia, developed a plan to improve the living and working conditions of plantation workers in East Africa, and coordinated an expert group working on data management around post-disaster damage and needs assessments. Jon has also been involved in various strategic planning and change management efforts within the ILO and has worked on several projects in the areas of results-based management, program monitoring and evaluation, donor reporting, and improved internal and external communication flows. He holds a master’s degree in public administration/human resources administration from Marist College in New York.
Mr. Shah Alam — Acting Country Director, Bangladesh
Alam joined Room to Read in 2011 and served for two years as Room to Read's Literacy Program Director in Bangladesh before taking on the role of Acting Country Director for Room to Read Bangladesh. Previously, Alam worked for USAID-funded Sesame Street Project in Bangladesh as their Director of Educational Outreach. Alam also worked in educational programming for Plan International, Save the Children and BRAC. He holds two master's degrees—one in Education from the University of Dhaka and one in Development Studies from East West University, Dhaka. He also studied for a postgraduate diploma in Development Planning from the Bangladesh Academy for Planning and Development and has a postgraduate certificate in Strategic Management from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands.
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.
Mrs. 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. Ramesh Puri — Country Director, Nepal
Ramesh joined Room to Read in 2012 with more than twenty years experience in the development sector in Nepal and internationally. He has worked as country director for Save the Children UK and Save the Children Australia in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Solomon Islands. Prior to joining Room to Read, Ramesh was working with Concern Worldwide US as country manager in Sierra Leone. Before moving to international development in 2002, he worked in Nepal with Save the Children UK, Oxfam GB, USC Canada and Nepal Red Cross in various managerial capacities. He has experience in developing country strategy papers, program development in youth, child rights and protection issues, basic education, policy advocacy, partnership management, and organizational risk management. Ramesh holds a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from Nepal in 1989 and Post graduate level professional development courses from the University of Manchester, UK, 1997 in Social Development Policy and Practice, Managing NGOs and Research and Advocacy.
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.
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. Chris Mothupi — Country Director, South Africa
Chris comes to Room to Read with more than 15 years of experience managing educational projects throughout South Africa at both the national and provincial levels. Prior to joining Room to Read, Chris held several leadership positions, including CEO, with PROTEC, a national non-governmental organization in South Africa that specializes in math, science and technology education. Chris also worked in the Ministerial Committee where he was the chair of the team that developed the National Curriculum Statement for Technology Education. Previously, Chris served as a math and science teacher and department head at Central Secondary School in Soshanguve Township, in addition to working as a teacher trainer and fieldworker for the Science Education Project, an education non-governmental organization. He is also a co-author of a number of technology education school textbooks. Chris holds undergraduate degrees from the University of South Africa and the University of Johannesburg, and a master’s degree from Edith Cowan University in Australia.
Mr. Theodory Mwalongo — Country Director, Tanzania
Theodory joined Room to Read in July 2011 as the first country director for Tanzania, bringing 12 years of international development and programmatic experience. Prior to Room to Read, Theodory worked as executive director for Under the Same Sun and as country director for Action on Disability and Development and for Action Aid International in various capacities. Theodory began his professional career as a secondary school teacher and holds a master’s degree in social sciences with a specialization in education management and administration as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.