Nathan Cummings Foundation Welcomes Equity-and-Justice Advocate Kavita N. Ramdas As President and CEO
NEW YORK, NY, August 31, 2021 – The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) today announced the appointment of Kavita Nandini Ramdas as its new president and CEO. Ramdas, who currently leads the Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program, will join NCF on October 4. She will succeed interim President and CEO Rey Ramsey, who will continue to serve on the board and support the foundation’s mission-aligned investing activities.
“We were looking for a unicorn, and we found her,” said NCF Board Chair Jaimie Mayer. “She’s one of those rare leaders who has searing intellect and genuine humility. She fearlessly speaks truth to power and constantly listens to the members of our communities with the least voice. Most important of all, she has a walk-through-walls commitment to pursuing justice for people and the planet.”
“This is a dream role for me,” Ramdas said. “NCF is one of the boldest foundations in the world in terms of its values, grants, impact investments, and shareholder activism. As a result, it is a critically important leader on racial justice and climate solutions, at an inflection moment when the world desperately needs to see America do the right thing.”
During her distinguished career, Ramdas has become one of the world’s most powerful and inspirational voices for justice and equality here in the U.S. and around the globe. Prior to joining the Open Society Foundations, she served as a strategy advisor for MADRE, an international women’s rights organization. From 2012 to 2015, she led the Ford Foundation’s operations in South Asia and then became a senior advisor to President Darren Walker on global strategy. From 1996 to 2010, she served as the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, which she transformed into the world’s largest public foundation for women’s rights. Ramdas also founded a program on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University and worked to combat domestic poverty and support community solutions at the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
“Kavita is a fierce and tireless advocate for justice and is fearless in challenging all of us—in philanthropy, politics, government and beyond—to honor our professed values and back them up with meaningful commitments to the cause,” said Open Society President Mark Malloch-Brown. “NCF is lucky to have her. I look forward to continuing to partner with Kavita in fights to come.”
“Kavita’s outstanding record as a passionate, transformational, and effective social justice leader and manager makes her a superb choice to be NCF’s next president and CEO,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “She brings the ideal complement of skills to the organization: intelligence, determination, courage, and grit. This is a great day for philanthropy and for all who care about justice in America and the world.”
Ramdas serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Grist, an environmental-justice organization. She is a TED speaker and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. She is a former trustee of Mount Holyoke College, Princeton University, the General Service Foundation, the Women’s Funding Network, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Women’s Link Worldwide, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Guttmacher Institute. She has served as an advisor to the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Room to Read, Trickle Up, and the America India Foundation; on the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum; and on the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation.
Ramdas, who speaks five languages, was born in Delhi, India, and grew up in Mumbai, Delhi, London, Rangoon, and Bonn. She is married to the writer and scholar Zulfiqar Ahmad, a native of Pakistan. Ramdas and Ahmad have an adult daughter, who works in the social sector.