Akshaya Patra USA Board Members on Philanthropy, Innovation and More on Chai With Manju

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BOSTON—Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO) or not-for-profit organization school meal program, providing hot, nutritious lunches to over 1.8 million children in 19,257 schools across India daily.

Akshaya Patra’s US arm, Akshaya Patra USA, engages thousands of volunteers and donors in the United States to raise funds and awareness in support of the foundation’s mission.

In an exclusive video interview on Chai With Manju, members of the Board of the Akshaya Patra USA, talk about why have assumed leadership roles Akshaya Patra USA, what are their expertise that helps in the growth of the organization and its future plans. They include Desh Deshpande, Chairman Emeritus; Siva Sivaram, Chairman; Srivatsan Rajan, Vice Chairman; Rajiv Jain, Interim CEO; Dr Rachna Kulkarni, BV Jagadeesh  and Roopa Makhija.

To watch the full interview, please click here, or on the image below.

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Chairman Emeritus

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande was the Chairman of Akshaya Patra USA from 2008 to 2020. Dr. Deshpande is the President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC and has founded several successful companies including Cascade Communications and Sycamore Networks. Dr. Deshpande holds a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, an M.E. from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and Ph.D from Queens University in Canada. Dr. Deshpande serves as a life-member of the MIT Corporation.

Siva Sivaram, Board Chairman

Dr. Siva Sivaram was appointed executive vice president of memory technology in May 2016 when SanDisk was acquired by Western Digital and is responsible for the ongoing development of the company’s industry-leading NAND flash memory, as well as the development of next-generation technologies, including 3D NAND (BiCS) and 3D ReRAM. Sivaram has over 30 years of experience in semiconductors, 3-D memory architectures, process technology, equipment and materials. He has held executive positions at Intel and Matrix Semiconductor, and at SanDisk after its acquisition of Matrix. Additionally, he was the Founder and CEO of Twin Creeks Technologies, a solar panel and equipment company. Under his leadership, SanDisk created the world’s first cross point 3D memory technology, the world leading 15nm 2D NAND technology, and the industry’s first 256 Gigabit (Gb) 3-bit-per-cell (X3) 48-layer 3D NAND chip. Sivaram has also served as a board member of several start-up firms, was entrepreneur-in-residence at Crosslink Capital and XSeed Capital, a research scholar at Matsushita Electric, and an adjunct faculty member at San Jose State University.

Additionally, Sivaram has published numerous technical papers as well as a textbook on Chemical Vapor Deposition, and he holds several patents. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in materials science from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he has been elected to its Board of Trustees. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, India, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Srivatsan Rajan, Vice Chairman

Srivatsan (Sri) Rajan is a Partner in the Bain & Company’s San Francisco India office. Prior to this, he was the Chairman of Bain’s India offices and has also served as the Managing Director there. He has over 20 years of management consulting experience in India and the United States. He has supported the creation and execution of turnaround strategies for multiple diversified firms and has significant experience working with private equity firms in pre-deal diligence and post-deal strategy, as well as in operational engagements across sectors.

Sri serves on the board of Delhivery, a logistics startup in India and is an investor in and advisor to many other startups and funds. He is also on the Advisory Board of Bridgespan India, Central Square Foundation, Fireside Ventures and is also the Chair of the Consultative Council of Akshaya Patra in India.

Rajiv Jain, Interim CEO

Rajiv Jain is a philanthropist, currently engaged with projects at the intersection of education and nutrition. As the Interim CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, Rajiv’s pro bono role is to prepare the organization for its next phase, where it can provide mid-day meals to 5 million children across India. At the same time, he is leading  Akshaya Patra USA’s current initiatives to provide meals to millions of disadvantaged people affected by COVID-19 in India.  As part of his spiritual journey, Rajiv believes in serving his fellow human beings and other living beings around the world. He wishes to provide happiness to people by providing them opportunities to help others as well.

Previously, Rajiv managed a tech company, a2z, Inc., for 20 years, which he had co-founded with his wife, Hima Jain. During this period, under Rajiv’s leadership, a2z won several awards, and the company was listed as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the USA for 9 out of 11 years before it was acquired by Personify, Inc.  Biking, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities are some of the leisure pursuits that Rajiv enjoys the most. He also loves biohacking and tinkering with tech gadgets.

Rajiv has been married to Hima for more than 24 years. Together, they have a daughter, Inayat, and a son, Satvik. The entire family loves their dog, Olive, who has brought considerable joy and comfort to them. Rajiv received a B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, and an M.S. degree from Clemson University, SC, USA. He pursued an Executive MBA from Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. His interests in Social Entrepreneurship led him to pursue the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University.

Dr. Rachana Kulkarni, MD, Board Member

Dr Rachana Kulkarni is a cardiologist in New Jersey for the last 20 years. She is the managing partner of Medicor Cardiology, a leading cardiology group in Central Jersey. She has served as the Chief of Cardiology and Chairman of Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and is the President of American Heart Association New Jersey Chapter. Dr Kulkarni has been involved with Akshaya Patra for the last several years. She has been instrumental in building a robust Chapter of

Akshaya Patra in New Jersey and has led her team to host two successful Galas in New Jersey. She passionately believes in improving the world through education and thinks that Akshaya Patra is the perfect vehicle to achieve that change in an entire generation of Indian kids.

Roopa Makhija, Board Member

Roopa is Co-founder and President of GEP, a global procurement and supply chain organization. She founded GEP with the dream of a beautiful company, a place that touches employees, clients and communities in a positive and sustainable way. She leads GEP’s CSR initiatives and has been supporting Akshaya Patra both in US and India for the last 5+ years. She has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Pharmacy and an MBA from the University of Chicago, but considers herself a student for life.

B.V. Jagadeesh, Board Member

V. Jagadeesh, President and CEO of KAAJ Systems, is a successful serial entrepreneur in the field of technology, a Venture Capitalist and a philanthropist. He co-founded and was CTO of Exodus communications in 1993 that pioneered the concept of Internet data centers. He was instrumental in successful IPO of Exodus in 1998.

Jagadeesh seed funded NetScaler and became President and CEO in 2000. NetScaler was successfully sold to Citrix for $325M and Jagadeesh served as Group VP and GM for Citrix application networking division. Jagadeesh has served as CEO and President for 3Leaf Systems. Currently Jagadeesh is a Managing Partner at KAAJ Ventures.


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