Nicole Sayres

Nicole Sayres is the Chief Operating Officer of Room to Read, an organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children.® Room to Read envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities and the world. 

Nicole oversees Room to Read’s program operations, people operations, and information technology, and plays a key role in leading the execution of Room to Read’s ambitious strategy to benefit 40 million children by 2025. This includes guiding the expansion of our literacy and girls’ education programming into 10 new countries, overseeing the development of our Digital Transformation roadmap, and serving as Executive Champion of our organizational commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Nicole’s leadership is a crucial part of Room to Read’s efforts to develop a sustainable and scalable vision for operational excellence as it prepares for its next phase of organizational growth.

With more than twenty years of experience in the nonprofit, public and private sector, Nicole joined Room to Read after 12 years at The Asia Foundation, where she most recently served as the Senior Director, Asia Operations Coordination, overseeing operations across 18 country offices. In that role, Nicole led the strategy, vision, and execution on new initiatives around recruitment, in-country security, compliance, and policy, as well as the design for their 2020 global strategic Implementation Plan. Prior to that, she served as the Deputy Country Representative in Cambodia for The Asia Foundation, taught students in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, was an Analyst in Asian Affairs for the US Congressional Research Service and has contributed to multiple publications on South and Southeast Asia including a meta-survey on the use of technologies in education published by UNESCO Bangkok. 

Nicole has extensive experience working with bilateral and multilateral donors, including serving as International Project Manager at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she oversaw a portfolio of projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, and El Salvador. She also worked with the Asia Education Team at the United States Agency for International Development and co-designed an education project for Cambodia focused on teacher training, curriculum reform, and life skills. For the International Labor Organization, she conducted research that helped improve labor standards of house helpers in the Philippines. She has overseen a range of programs focused on topics including girls’ education, local governance, anti-human trafficking, economic development, and women’s empowerment, funded by donors such as the European Union, the World Bank, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States. 

Nicole is an Activator with SheEO Inc, a women-funding-women initiative that supports female entrepreneurs launching socially-impactful ventures. She previously served as a council member at NationSwell and was a judge at the 2016 World Savvy Bay Area Festival. Nicole received a Global Executive Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) with honors from IE Business School, a master’s in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She speaks English, conversational Japanese, and basic Spanish and Khmer. 

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