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Room to Read welcomes new board leadership

Strengthens Organizational Focus on Africa and Technology Ahead of Next Strategic Plan | November 02, 2023

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November 2, 2023 – Room to Read, a global education nonprofit creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality, today announced several organizational developments as it prepares for continued growth and impact under its next strategic plan.  

“As we approach our 25th anniversary in 2025, Room to Read is poised to commence a new strategic plan that will shape our organization’s future,” said Room to Read’s CEO, Dr. Geetha Murali. “We are actively investing in strategies and program implementation to respond to the ongoing education crisis. As we commit to more ambitious program approaches that drive transformative change, I am excited to announce renewed partnerships and strong board leadership that will propel Room to Read toward our vision of a world where all children have room to read, learn and grow.”  

With a sharp focus on achieving quality literacy and gender equality outcomes at scale in Africa, Room to Read has committed to expanding its programs throughout the continent in the coming years. The organization has appointed Benjamin Piper, director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Education Program, to its global board of directors. Based in the Gates Foundation's Ethiopia office, Piper supports grantees that improve foundational literacy and numeracy in India and sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, Piper was senior director for Africa education at RTI International. His former experience includes supporting large-scale education projects across Africa, as well as studying education initiatives aimed at improving pedagogy at scale.  

Reflecting on his appointment, Piper stated, "Room to Read has made significant strides in securing access to quality education for children around the world. With a shared commitment to system-level change, I look forward to contributing to Room to Read’s mission and ensuring all children, families and communities have the resources and opportunities to engage in learning that will systemically improve educational outcomes in Africa and beyond.”  

Room to Read’s commitment to expansion in Africa is made possible due to its long-standing partnership with IMC Trading. Since 2016, IMC has been a dedicated advocate of Room to Read's mission to eradicate illiteracy and foster a more equitable world. IMC's support has benefited more than 2.3 million children to date, expanded Room to Read's literacy initiatives into new regions across Tanzania and South Africa and has paved the way for significant, long-lasting improvements in education systems in these two countries. The trading firm’s biggest charity event of the year, Trading & Gaming for Charity Day, donates an entire day’s revenues to charitable causes and has allowed for this tremendous opportunity to invest in Room to Read’s literacy work in Africa over the coming years.  

Alongside program expansion, Room to Read’s next strategic plan is leveraging technology for organizational efficiency and improved learning outcomes. Room to Read developed innovative multimedia approaches during the pandemic and is now breaking barriers to content distribution across the technology spectrum from radio to television to internet-based technologies. The organization is also exploring added use of AI to strengthen operations and program interventions. As the organization enhances its work with technology-powered approaches, in March 2024, Room to Read will appoint John Lindfors as chair of its global board of directors, with Mike Cannon-Brookes assuming chair-elect.  

Lindfors and Cannon-Brookes have served as Room to Read Global Board Members since 2018 and 2019, respectively. As esteemed global business leaders, Lindfors and Cannon-Brookes bring critical technology acumen that will guide Room to Read through its next strategic plan.  

Lindfors is the co-founder and managing partner of DST Global, a growth equity firm backing exceptional tech entrepreneurs. Prior to DST Global, Lindfors led the European Technology and Media Investment Banking department for Goldman Sachs. Cannon-Brookes is the co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian, a collaboration software company. Outside Atlassian, Cannon-Brookes is an investor in the areas of software, fintech, agriculture and energy.  

Scott Kapnick, who has served on Room to Read’s global board of directors since 2008, has joined Room to Read’s Emeritus Board. During his tenure at Room to Read, Kapnick served as board chair during Room to Read’s most recent CEO transition, scaled Room to Read’s capacity to significantly increase its global footprint and spearheaded efforts to bring Room to Read literacy efforts to the United States. A full listing of Room to Read’s board of directors can be found here.  

About Room to Read 

Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children®, Room to Read is creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality through education. We are achieving this goal by helping children in historically low-income communities develop literacy skills and a habit of reading, and by supporting girls as they build life skills to succeed in school and negotiate key life decisions. We collaborate with governments and other partner organizations to deliver positive outcomes for children at scale. Room to Read has benefited more than 39 million children and has worked in 23 countries and in more than 182,000 communities, providing additional support through remote solutions that facilitate learning beyond the classroom. Room to Read aims to benefit 40 million children by 2025. Learn more at www.roomtoread.org