WALTHAM, MA- Neha Dala, who was admitted to Harvard at age 16 and completed her bachelor’s and master’s in applied mathematics, economics, and education from there at age 20, is a research economist to White House Council of Economic Advisors.
She has spent the past year at the White House, where she provides policy advice to the President and other senior officials. Additionally, Dalal has also taught or worked with students in seven countries and worked on quantitative education research with Stanford economist Raj Chetty and with the United Nations.
She served as chief of strategy of a nonprofit with over 600 members and editor-in-chief of a publication with over 100,000 readers across 156 countries, a staff of over 130, and past contributors including Nelson Mandela, Ban Ki Moon, and Bill Clinton.
Dalal has been invited to consult on youth civic engagement for city leaders in the US and internationally. In order to increase youth civic engagement, she has served as the student leader for a bipartisan conference for US congressmen, helped organized more-than-weekly forums at Harvard with guests including heads of state and ambassadors, and helped lead over 10,000 high schoolers committed to service through Key Club International.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Neha Dalal: I work at the White House, where I have provided policy advice and analysis under both the Obama and Trump administrations. In this role and previous ones, I have generally focused on education and youth issues. I love that I get to spend all day learning about topics that fascinate me, synthesizing various puzzle pieces to solve challenging problems, meeting and working with interesting people, and, hopefully, improving the US and the world. Getting to see the White House everyday also never grows old!
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
ND: I’ve belonged to and even founded numerous groups over years, but currently belong to just my local Harvard Alumni chapter. I also volunteer at various places around town. I’m looking for my next adventure!
INE: What are your hobbies and interests?
ND: Martial arts, getting lost in new cities, teaching, volunteering, writing, and learning and doing new things.
INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
ND: I believe that I am too young to have influenced anything of significance as yet. However, I would like to think that in the future, the research, writing, teaching, and other work I have done would have moved the world closer to achieving universal high-quality education, whether by directly teaching someone something new, changing how others think about the education landscape, shaping positive policy, or inspiring youth and others to try and do things they wouldn’t have otherwise.
INE: Your rare talent?
ND: Languages! To varying degrees, I speak English, Hindi, Spanish, and Mandarin.
INE: Your favorite books?
ND: I can never answer this question—there are too many books out there that are fantastic for different reasons! Instead, I’ll just say that I’m currently reading John Holt’s “How Children Fail” and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”, both of which I love so far.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
ND: “Every storm is an adventure. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
INE: Who inspires you the most?
ND: My talented, brilliant, compassionate, imaginative, fun, supportive, and very loving family. They are my biggest heroes and my biggest cheerleaders.
INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?
ND: I think society places too much value on celebrities. More than meeting any one person, I would love to spend time with a group of kids from all around the world, from different walks of life, with different beliefs and perspectives, and just talk. If I had to pick a specific person, maybe Oprah Winfrey or Sal Khan (who founded Khan Academy)?
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
ND: Love hard, dream big, grow constantly, think deeply, seek adventure, and be happy.