Global Advisory Board
John Bothamley is an investor in property development and real estate holdings. He is also an accomplished architect and often designs the properties himself. In 1996, he founded Four Acre Trust, an organization that addresses the root causes of social problems by supporting charities that provide positive opportunities for youth. John strongly believes that foundations should build relationships with recipient operating charities and that they should work together to help people improve their lives.
Ernie Chow is partner and founder at Sensato Capital Management, a San Francisco-based investment management company focused on Asian equity markets. Prior to starting Sensato, Ernie was managing director and co-head of active equity at Barclays Global Investors, where he developed investment strategies for Asia and emerging markets. His prior experience includes roles at County NatWest Australia Investment Management and as a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a doctorate in applied mathematics, a bachelor of law and a bachelor of science from Monash University. Ernie also serves on the board of trustees for the Bay Area Discovery Museum.
Luis Crouch is chief technical officer and vice president of the International Development Group for RTI International. His areas of specialization include social sector finance and the political economy of reform, with a particular focus on education, including assessment, early grades, improvement strategies, accountability for literacy as a right and education decentralization. Luis has worked on all aspects of policy analysis research and implementation, from field surveys to quantitative and qualitative analysis to policy dialogue presentations at the Cabinet level in various countries. Prior to his current position, he worked at the Research Triangle Institute and the World Bank. Luis has experience in many countries in the developing world and has served as a high-level technical advisor to the governments of South Africa and Egypt. Luis received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and his doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Rob Flaherty is senior partner, president & chief executive officer at Ketchum, a global public relations firm with 70 offices and affiliates worldwide. Rob serves on the agency's Worldwide Executive Committee, is managing director of the firm's Global Corporate Practice and is responsible for the agency's Global Research Network. As a client counselor, Rob's areas of specialization are corporate positioning and issues management. Rob is on the board of the Institute for Public Relations and serves on the Agency Management Committee of the Council of Public Relations Firms. He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and is also on the board of the Economic Crime Institute, which focuses on research and solutions to address cyber crime and identity theft. Prior to working at Ketchum, Rob was vice president/group manager at Burson-Marsteller.
Dhir Jhingran is the national education advisor to the Ministry of Education for the government of Nepal, helping with the development of Nepal's national early grades reading program. Prior to this, he served as chief program officer for literacy at Room to Read, guiding the conceptualization and implementation of our Reading and Writing Instruction program. Previously, he served three years leading our work in Asia as regional director. Prior to joining Room to Read, Dhir worked as director in the Ministry of Education in India. Dhir has spent over 20 years as a policy maker for primary education, at both the state and national levels. He has authored two books on primary education and contributed to several publications. Dhir holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, a master's degree in economics and a Ph.D. in education.
Susan Lodge is a real estate agent for Sotheby’s International and the co-leader of Room to Read’s Aspen Chapter, which she founded in 2009. Three years earlier, while living in Japan with her family, Susan also launched our Tokyo chapter. Prior to living in Tokyo, she lived in New York City where she had a 20-year career in advertising and marketing management. Susan served as publisher and group publisher for a number of fashion and sports magazines at Fairchild Publications. She also served as executive vice president of Iwear, an Internet start-up, in California. Susan began her advertising career at Benton & Bowles advertising agency in New York. Susan served as a trustee on the board of Inwood House, a non-profit in New York City which serves teens at risk.
Addy Loudiadis is responsible for the Goldman Sachs insurance business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in addition to leading the firm’s efforts to provide liquidity to the market and solutions for corporate clients. Prior to assuming this role, Addy served as co-head of the company’s European Financing Group and Investment Banking Group in Europe. Before moving to banking, Addy led European Fixed Income Sales. After serving as vice president for JP Morgan, Addy joined Goldman Sachs in 1994. She was named managing director in 1997 and partner in 2002. Addy earned her bachelor’s degree from Oxford in 1986.
Melissa J. Ma
Melissa J. Ma is the co-founder and managing director of Asia Alternatives, an Asian private equity fund-of-funds and corporate partner to Room to Read. With offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, and San Francisco, Asia Alternatives has over US $2 billion assets under management and invests across Asia in local fund managers. Previously, Melissa was a director at Hellman & Friedman, a leading U.S. private equity firm, and has also worked at McKinsey & Co., Inc. in Hong Kong and San Francisco. Melissa holds an M.B.A. with distinction and a bachelor’s degree in economics and East Asian studies, agna cum laude, from Harvard. She also serves on the board of trustees for the Half the Sky Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of orphans in China, and the Asian Art Museum.
Patte McDowell is a former trading, sales and marketing executive with the Charles Schwab Corporation. She is the founder and board chair of the Cloud 9 Foundation and an early supporter of Room to Read's work. Patte has visited Room to Read’s work in three countries, and is an enthusiastic advocate for our work in girls’ education. She serves on the board of Hospice of Marin.
Arul Menezes is a principal software architect at Microsoft Research, working on natural language processing and machine translation. He previously served several roles in product research and development at Microsoft and was educated at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Stanford University. Arul also spent a year with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a group working with populations displaced by a dam project in India. He currently serves on the board of trustees for the Nature Conservancy of Washington. Arul and his wife Lucy have been enthusiastic supporters of Room to Read since its early days as Books for Nepal. They reside, with their two children, in Sammamish, WA.
Shirley Miske is the president of Miske Witt & Associates Inc., a small consulting firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota, that works collaboratively with education ministries and international organizations to improve quality and enhance equity in education systems. Shirley and her associates consult in most regions of the world with organizations such as CARE-US, UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID and the World Bank. For nine years Shirley lived and worked internationally as a teacher in Guatemala, school principal in Hong Kong, and foundation program officer in Thailand. Shirley earned a doctorate from Michigan State University in international development education, a master’s degree from Stanford University in bilingual/cross-cultural education and a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University–Chicago in education. Shirley has been a strategic advisor to our Girls’ Education Program since 2009.
Karen Mundy serves as associate dean of research and Canada research chair for Global Governance and Educational Change for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is a leading expert on educational assistance in the developing world. Her published works provide insight into the evolution of many of the world's governmental and non-governmental institutions with educational mandates. She has published on educational reform in Africa, the role of civil society in educational reform and the issue of global education in North American schools. Karen has consulted for organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, CIDA and USAID, and is the founder of the Canadian Global Campaign for Education, a coalition committed to advancing education for all. Prior to her role at the University of Toronto, Karen served as assistant professor at Stanford University.
Stasia Obremskey is currently serving as the interim chief financial officer for We Care Solar. Previously, Stasia served as chief financial officer for Posit Science, a leading company in brain fitness programs. Stasia has over 20 years of experience providing financial and strategic planning consulting to health care entities in the U.S. and Asia, having spent over seven years in Thailand and China. She began her consulting career as a management consultant with Bain & Company, having previously worked in investment banking for Morgan Stanley. Stasia holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. She has also held leadership positions at several nonprofit boards.
Kavita N. Ramdas
Kavita N. Ramdas serves as representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka with the Ford Foundation. Prior to this role, Kavita was the executive director of the Ripples to Waves Program on Social Entrepreneurship and Development, part of the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Previously, Kavita was a visiting fellow at Stanford University's CDDRL and the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society. Kavita served as president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women for 14 years, after serving eight years as a program officer for the MacArthur Foundation. Kavita serves as a trustee of Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Kavita received her academic training at Delhi University, Mount Holyoke College and Princeton University.
M.R. Rangaswami co-founded Sand Hill Group LLC, and has been a strategic advisor to fast-growing technology companies. He has held global vice president-level marketing positions at Baan and Oracle Corporations. M.R. was profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and was named in Forbes' "Midas 100 List" as one of the most influential investors in technology. He holds an M.B.A. from Kent State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Madras.
Carol Knuth Sakoian
Carol Knuth Sakoian has served for 17 years as vice president of international business development for Scholastic Inc. She focuses on emerging market opportunities in developing countries and is currently specializing in Africa and the Middle East. Prior to joining Scholastic, she was an international negotiations representative for Conoco, Inc. and worked on oil exploration and production acquisitions in politically-challenging countries. Carol has assisted with Room to Read’s strategy for publishing local language/English bilingual books and currently helps obtain culturally-appropriate low-cost books and donations from several Scholastic companies.
Tim Wood is the director of mobile health innovation at the Grameen Foundation and specializes in applying information technology to address the problems of poverty and health in developing countries. After 12 years at Microsoft working on software development, Tim spent two years consulting with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation looking at the intersection of information technology and global health. He joined the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center in 2002 and pioneered replication of the Grameen Village Phone program, launching sustainable initiatives in Uganda and Rwanda and co-authoring the Village Phone Replication Manual. Tim leads the Mobile Technology for Community Health initiative underway in Ghana and brings a broad range of technical and business expertise to technology initiatives for developing countries.
Melody Zavala is director of the Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program, the foundation's longest running program. She has been with the Asia Foundation since 1991 in various capacities, mainly working on projects involving Russia and Central Asia. Before joining the Asia Foundation, Melody worked for Catholic Relief Services as the country director in Vladivostok, Russia from 1990-1992. Prior to Catholic Relief Services in Russia, she was based in Kolkata as project manager and collaborated with partners on emergency relief and long term development projects in 12 states in northeastern India. Melody's primary focus is to ensure Room to Read's partnership with the Books for Asia Program runs smoothly, allowing us to jointly ship over 100,000 books to Asia each year.
Steve W. Zimmerman
Steve W. Zimmerman is the vice president of Social Innovations at Mercy Corps and has more than 25 years of senior and executive-level experience in the field of international development. An accountant and economist by training, he has held numerous positions within large nonprofit organizations, including over a dozen long-term overseas positions. Steve served as chief of operations for Room to Read for two years, participating in the development of the organization’s strategic plan and overseeing its launch across nine countries. He has worked for Save the Children, AFS Intercultural Programs, and the Medical and Health Research Association of New York City. Steve is a graduate of the University of Southern California, and has also studied at the Université de Tunis in Tunisia and the Université de Grenoble in France.