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Room to Read Appoints Nicole Sayres as Chief Operating Officer

January 11, 2019

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Room to Read, a global organization focused on children’s literacy and girls’ education, has appointed Nicole Sayres as Chief Operating Officer, it was announced today by Dr. Geetha Murali, Room to Read’s CEO. Sayres will join Room to Read’s management team and 1600 staff worldwide effective February 18 as Room to Read prepares for its next phase of organizational growth and scale. Sayres will be based in Room to Read’s San Francisco headquarters and play a key role in ensuring the efficacy and evolution of the organization’s global programs and projects, overseeing program operations, people operations and information technology.

Sayres brings 20 years of experience in the international development sector to the COO role. Sayres joins Room to Read after 12 years at The Asia Foundation, where she has served most recently as the Senior Director, Asia Operations Coordination, overseeing operations in 18 country offices. Previously, Sayres served as the Deputy Country Representative in Cambodia for The Asia Foundation, taught students in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and has contributed to multiple academic publications on South and Southeast Asia including a meta-survey on the use of technologies in education published by UNESCO Bangkok.

“A passion for education has been a driving force throughout Nicole Sayres’s life and career,” said Room to Read CEO, Dr. Geetha Murali. “Her breadth of experience provides her with a keen understanding of how program operations, people operations and technology will play a strategic and central role in Room to Read’s future, and I am incredibly confident in the skills and leadership that she will bring to this critical position.”

Sayres has extensive experience working with bi-lateral and multi-lateral 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. Sayres received a Global Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) with honors from IE Business School, a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.

"Living and working around the world has given me a passion for finding effective solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Sayres. “Room to Read is making change at the systems level, and I am honored to join their management team as they pave a path toward a world where illiteracy and gender inequality in education are no longer impossible barriers to overcome.”

Koya Leadership Partners was retained by Room to Read to lead the executive search for the COO position. Recruitment is ongoing for the position of Vice President, People Operations which will report into Sayres. Inquiries can be directed to