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Governing Body

President : Ms. Deepa Dhanraj

Secretary : Dr. K. Lalita

Treasurer and Executive Director : Mr. M. Sashi Kumar

Other Members:

• Dr. Vithal Rajan
• Mr. Madan Mohan Rao
• Mr. Navroze Contractor
• Mr. Narayanswamy

• Ms. Deepa Dhanraj has been actively involved with the women's movement since 1980 on various issues related to women's status, political participation, health and education. She is also a noted filmmaker and has made over fifty documentaries and training films in the last twenty- five years. Her films have won awards in many International Film Festivals. Deepa has taught video-filming to women activists from South-East Asia, and has given lectures in various forums all over the country. Her particular areas of interest are education and health, and in the last few years she has been focusing her work on problems faced by children from disadvantaged communities who are first generation learners. All her films are based on intense and critical research, and this is reflected in the quality of films produced.

• Dr. K. Lalita, is also a co-founder of the ThinkSoft group. She is well known as co-author and editor of classics in women’s studies, such as “We were making History,” “Women Writing in India from 600 BC to the 20th Century,” and “Taking Charge of our bodies. She was founder-president of India’s first women’s activist group, the Progressive Organisation of Women, and founder-coordinator and currently the Vice-President of the well-known Anveshi Research Centre of Women’s Studies. She works on issues of gender, women’s health and education.

• Mr. M. Sashi Kumar is a co-founder of ThinkSoft, a development consultancy group. Over the years he has been a resource person with organizations working on micro-finance, Dalit rights, communal harmony, food security and dryland agriculture. He has worked as a consultant on government programmes in Urban Services for the Poor, Tribal Welfare, Forestry, and Irrigation & Water Management. Sashi’s particular interest is Local Area Development and Cluster-Based approaches to Economic Growth. Until recently, he was Director of Satyam Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of Satyam Computers.

• Dr. Vithal Rajan has a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He taught at Bradford University UK, and founded well-known Indian NGOs like the Deccan Development Society and the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA). He was the Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Awards Foundation, Stockholm, and continues to be on the awards jury of the Alternative Noble Prize; and was Director, Ethics and Education, WWF-International, Switzerland. Vithal has also been a member of the Task Force of the Government of Andhra Pradesh for issues on Social Development and a member of Poverty Mission of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. In recognition of his work he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. Vithal is also a published playwright and short-story writer. More details are available on his website: www.vithalrajan.com

• Mr. Madan Mohan Rao, a journalist with many years of experience in UNI, was a key mover behind the Rural Telecom Foundation (RTF). Madan was able to bring to the table, his many years of experience working with the RTF. He has been a senior consultant with ThinkSoft, and a Fellow of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Fellowship Program (2002-2003). Madan is an awardee of the Ashoka-Lemelson Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. He is now working on PURA (Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), a project of Ministry of Rural Development, GoI.

• Mr. Navroze Contractor is a path-breaking cinematographer of many award winning feature and documentary films. As a crucial contributor to the art film/documentary movement in India, his name is attached to many legendary films. He has held one-man shows of still photographs in the USA and India. His photographs of jazz musicians are part of the collection of the Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C. Navroze has conducted workshops at the School of Architecture Ahmedabad, NID Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, Pomona State University California and the University of the Andes at Merida, Venezuela.

• Mr. S. Narayanswamy is an engineer by training and a development professional by choice. He started the Ann Arbor Chapter of Association for India’s Development (AID) and served as its treasurer for 3 years. Narayanswamy is committed to applying his technical knowledge and project management skills in finding solutions for development issues. He is especially interested in the implementation of sustainable and relevant technologies. He has written and published several short stories in Telugu and English.

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