Dr. Geetha Murali is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Room to Read, a leading international education organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children.® Room to Read transforms the lives of millions of children through education, creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality. As CEO, Geetha has been a driving force behind the exponential scale of Room to Read’s quality programs – achieving presence in 21 countries and benefiting more than 32 million children to date.
Geetha joined Room to Read in 2009 and has more than 25 years of diverse experience across the corporate and non-profit sectors. She has worked with large pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Chiron as well as on an array of educational technology programs like the Digital Equalizer Program (American India Foundation) and Adobe Youth Voices (Adobe Systems Incorporated). Geetha’s compelling personal history as the daughter of a potential child bride coupled with her corporate experience, academic background in the quantitative and social sciences, and community-based work, give her a unique perspective on the socio-economic landscapes in which Room to Read operates, as well as the quantitative rigor and business acumen needed to lead this transformative movement.
Geetha oversees the resourcing of approximately 60 Room to Read offices and their implementation of high-quality literacy and gender equality programs, in partnership with various levels of government, through public school systems and community organizations. Geetha is also responsible for a worldwide staff of 1,600 employees, and a global network of boards, investors and volunteer chapters.
Geetha’s commitment to ensuring measurable and scalable impact through robust technical design and operational excellence has been recognized by former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama, with both the first lady’s girls’ education initiatives, Let Girls Learn and Girls Opportunity Alliance, promoting Room to Read’s gender equality program as a role model for the sector. Geetha’s efforts to scale literacy instruction, school library and private book publishing programs have also resulted in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation naming Room to Read as a Goalkeepers Accelerator in education. Geetha writes extensively and is regularly invited to speak on global stages about social justice, large-scale implementation of quality education programs, and leadership. She has been featured in international media outlets such as BBC, Bloomberg, ABC, CNBC and Times of India to comment on the state of literacy and gender equality around the world. During her career she has revolutionized the sphere of public-private partnerships as a thought leader in international fundraising, marketing, public relations, and communications for the social sector.
Geetha is a Social Impact Officer and member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) and has been recognized by WIRED as a leader who will shape the next 25 years. She serves on the board of directors for the Global Press Institute and is a Founding Circle member and Social Impact Advisor for Neythri, a global community of South Asian professional women. 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, Berkeley.