NalandaWay Foundation is a registered public charitable trust headquartered in Chennai. The people behind the trust and their background are provided below.
Sriram V. Ayer
Sriram, in his earlier assignment, worked as the Head of New Initiatives for a leading technology firm in Chennai from 1998 to 2004.Personal experiences during the 2002 Gujarat riots however, motivated him to set up NalandaWay Foundation. As Founder & CEO of the organization, Sriram believes in using the power of the arts to change the way education is perceived and delivered to children from low-income groups in India. He was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2006 and ranked among the ‘Top 50 Social Entrepreneurs in India’ by Outlook magazine. Also the recipient of the ‘Architect of the Future’ Award by Waldzell Institute in Vienna, Sriram is currently involved in the full-time management of NalandaWay Foundation. His interests range from theatre, music and literature to history and fiction-writing.
Patrick works for Ibhar Technologies, Chennai, India as the Head of Research & Development and holds a Masters in Science from IIT, Chennai. He has been involved in new technology research and product architecture design at Ibhar since 1996. Patrick is the co-founder of NalandaWay Foundation and heads the technology initiatives of the Trust.
Jayanth comes with over eight years of experience as the Director- Supporter Engagement/Public Relations at World Vision International- an international humanitarian organization focused on the development of children. Apart from initiating and running several social-change campaigns focused on child labour, HIV//AIDS and child malnutrition, Jayanth has played important roles in brand development for World Vision India and its international offices over the last few years. Jayanth advises NalandaWay on its communication strategies.
Ramya is a Marketing Communications Professional with over eleven years experience in India and the US. She has a Masters degree in Communications from Portland State University, Oregon, USA. She is currently a Project Director at Inception Business Services, a marketing consulting firm in Chennai, where she leads some of their key client relationships. Previously, Ramya led the Resource Mobilization efforts at NalandaWay Foundation for over three years. An ardent lover of the performing arts, she also co-founded Hamsaa, an arts organisation that is committed to create more appreciation for the Performing Arts. Ramya strongly believes that active participation in, and appreciation of the Arts can bring about positive changes in communities.
As the Chief Strategy Officer of Apollo Hospitals group and Chartered Accountant, Mr. Venkataraman brings in immense expertise in the financial administration of the trust. Mr. Venkataraman is a philanthropist and supports numerous causes. He is also the Managing Trustee of the Sri Muthusamy Dikshitar Foundation which helps in the promotion of classical music. He advises the foundation on governance, policy and resource mobilisation.
Having served as the Chief Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Venkataraman has guided policy formation and implementation in Tamil Nadu for over three decades. His work experience covers a wide range of sectors from district administration, transport, infrastructure development and rural planning to social education and law & order maintenance. After retiring from the Indian Administrative Service in May 1994, he has actively pursued his interests in the fields of comparative philosophy and religion and has published several articles on these subjects. He currently spearheads the strategic initiatives of the organisation.
Padmashri. Dr. Anandakrishnan
Dr. Anandakrishnan is, currently, the Chairman of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He advises both the Union and State Governments on areas relating to educational methodology, technical education and curriculum. He had previously been appointed as the Vice Chancellor of Anna University and had also served as the IT advisor to the Government of Tamil Nadu. He advises the foundation on areas like strategy, methodology and technology
A renowned classical pianist, Anil Srinivasan is one of the most popular music personalities in South India. He is well-known for his path-breaking collaboration with vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan, with whom his output includes 6 published albums and several national and international tours. He has written extensively on music for several leading publications and also speaks regularly at conferences related to music and education. An ardent music lover, he is also known for having organized alternative performing arts platforms and festivals in Chennai. He advises NalandaWay on its music education initiatives.
Uma Viswanathan, Chief Operating Officer
Uma comes with 25 years of experience in corporate world and 4 years in social sector. A graduate in Human Resources Management and with Bachelors in Commerce, she has worked extensively in banking, FMGC sectors, and in training. She is also a certified Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professional. Uma sets the standards high and runs the projects on a tight schedule at NalandaWay. She is our go-to person. Her work ethics are
matched by her sense of adventure and never say die spirit. Uma does all this with amazing sense of humour and with a smile on her face.
Rajagopalan Venkatraman, Head - Resource Mobilization
Rajagopalan has over twenty-four years of experience in the IT industry with expertise in program management and delivery. He is a Computer Science Engineer with a Post Graduate Certification in Business Management (PGCBM) from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He has conceptualized and delivered training programs across many educational institutions. He is a member of an NGO that provides student centric learning at Anganwadis and corporation schools. Rajagopalan brings his zeal for education and expertise in Management for resource mobilization at NalandaWay. He is our Wikipedia for information on Carnatic music, heritage walks and history tours.
Sudha Meiyappan, Manager – Communication
Sudha comes to NalandaWay with Masters in Economics and International Studies. She runs a support group for people affected by Parkinson’s and is active in Chennai’s caregiving community. As our communications person, she tries to convey more with less words. She unwinds by diving into yoga and by playing tunes only she understands on the Veena.
Ganesh Babu R, Manager- Admin/Accounts
Having acquired 20 years of experience in the fields of accounts, marketing and administration, Ganesh Babu is our Money Man at NalandaWay. Thanks to his dedication and meticulous practices at the foundation, every penny in the bank is saved and accounted for. He spends his time away from numbers by watching movies and playing with his children
Gomathi Shankar (aka GS), Manager – Projects
GS is an entrepreneur-turned-social worker. He has an MBA in Marketing and a B.Tech degree in Biotechnology. He was co-founder of a creative agency before joining NalandaWay. He has worked as a freelancer with NalandaWay Foundation and several NGOs for the cause of education and those experiences impacted him to take up this cause full-time. He wants to make education a joyful, meaningful and a wholesome experience. He is also a writer, an avid trekker and a travel buff.
Vidhya Thirunavukkarasu, Manager – Projects
A graduate from Madras School of Social Work, Chennai, and with a Bachelors in Visual Communications, Vidhya brings her great talent in fine arts, love for community work and stellar project management skills to NalandaWay. As our Manager for Arts in Education program for Greater Chennai, Vidhya designs and executes the program, builds relationships with stakeholders, and monitors and evaluates the program. A die-hard Rajini fan, you can catch her riding a sports bike.
Dhivya Ramalingam, Manager - Projects
Dhivya is a graduate in Electronic Media from Anna University and comes with a rich six years of experience in public broadcasting in health and Communication. Having served as the Deputy Director for Information, Education & Communication (IEC) department at Tamilnadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), Dhivya currently is our Chennai City Manager for Arts in Education program. She handles relationship building and program execution. Dhivya continues to produce shows on public radio, whips up delicious food, and follows her love for theater and travel.
Arunraj, R. B, Senior Associate – Projects
Arun has a degree in Chemical Engineering with a heart of film maker. A brain tumor diagnosis in 2003 made him bid adieu to engineering and embrace story telling. He has made highly entertaining and successful short films for NalandaWay since 2006. Famous for his crackling wit, Arun devours world cinema, and loves to travel.
Stephanie Fernandez, Associate – Projects
Stephanie has a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Stella Maris College, Chennai, and has past corporate work experience from a Fortune 500 company. Her passion for working with children brought her to Nalandaway. She has a great love for travel, in particular to the land down under as well as an overwhelming affection for dogs, most notably her dachshund, Sir Edward!
Monisha V, Associate – Projects
Her Bachelors in Economics led her to realise that behind every economic issue, there is a social problem. This directed her to pursue Masters in Community Development at Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. Monisha’s keen interest in gender studies and her strong belief that moulding children helps in building healthy communities brought her to NalandaWay. When not at work, you can find her dabbling in art and sharing a good laugh.
R. Keerthana, Associate – Projects
Keerthana grew up in Trichy, Tamil Nadu. After finishing her Masters in Social Work in Jamal Mohamed College, Trichy, she moved to Chennai for her M.Phil in Clinical Social Work from Stanley Medical College. She has worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Salem, Tamil Nadu and served as an Assistant Professor for more than 2 years at Trichy and in Chennai. She is an author of a self development book titled 'Key to Awareness'. Keerthana is a voracious reader, a compulsive blogger and has a great passion for writing.
Manjula Ponnapalli, Consultant – Music Education
Manjula is a musician with over a decade of experience in teaching, performing and collaborating with various artists across music genres. She is an alumna of Kalashetra, and has worked with Conservatoire à rayonnement régional, Réunion Island (Govt of France) as a performing artist and trainer of Indian Music department.
Her belief that music is a powerful medium for a greater harmony on earth makes her work at NalandaWay invaluable. She coaches NalandaWay’s Chennai Children’s Choir. Manju loves oil painting and finds travelling a fascinating way to understand herself.
Zeba Rizvi, Associate – Projects
Zeba heads our Arts Labs in Delhi. She has worked extensively as a life skills trainer with urban slum communities, schools, children with special needs as well as survivors of abuse and conflict. She is passionate about making art with children where they get to tell their stories in ways that are fun and at the same time give room to introspective dialogue and collective action.
Her formal education has taken place all over India, with her finally settling for a Masters in Social Work from Delhi University. On most days Zeba can be found swimming, procrastinating, failing miserably at cooking but still trying it the next time, and looking at turtles and sharks on Instagram
Zenia Yadav, Associate - Projects
Zenia is at our Delhi office. She has a Bachelors in Psychology from Delhi University and a Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Science. She has previously worked closely with homeless women with mental illness and also with children of parents suffering from mental health issues. Her belief in a holistic approach to mental wellness brings her to work at Nalandaway. In her free time Zenia is a long distance runner, a lover of animals, an amateur photographer, and a budding decorator.
Pradeepa R, Associate – Projects
Pradeepa heads our Arts Labs in Coimbatore. She is a graduate in Social Work specializing in Medical Psychiatry. She has a decade of experience as a customer care specialist. She works with NalandaWay due to her fervent desire to discover therapies to help children to overcome their psychological, emotional and behavioural problems. Pradeepa is creative, imaginative, and has great skills for interior decorating. As she grew up close to nature, she can name most trees in a forest.
Prabhakar M P, Associate - Projects
Prabhakar was an entrepreneur before joining NalandaWay team. He is our aide-de-camp when it comes to project implementation. He is the backbone of our Arts Labs project handing its various aspects. He takes care of planning and coordinating sessions for our Chennai Children’s Choir. He is notorious for his amazing memory, has great people skills, and is crazy about sports.
Ganapathy Kala, Associate – Projects
Kala has a Bachelors in Economics and a Masters in Social Work from the Holycross College, Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. She has extensive volunteering experience in conducting awareness programs on menstrual hygiene and sex education. Kala’s passion for social work and love of working with the children makes her a good fit at NalandaWay. She is also a theater artist, a folk dancer, and an activist for women’s rights.
Karthik Senthilvelavan, Junior Associate - Projects
Karthik has a degree in Economics and Medical Sociology from Loyola college, Chennai. He has worked with LGBT communities on AIDS research for VHS, on water conservation for IIT Madras and coordinated shelter facilities for the homeless under the Chennai Corporation. Karthik loves to unwind with his friends, has a love for playing games, and goes on long bike rides.
Govindharaj. C, Junior Associate – Projects
An engineering graduate with more than a year of working experience in various software solutions firms, Govindharaj assists in following-up with schools and in mentoring teachers. His other interests include reading books and keeping himself updated on current affairs.
Milton Samsunder, Junior Associate - Projects
Milton has a Bachelors in Sociology from Loyola College, Chennai and a Masters in Social Work from Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. He is a founder of Ilan Theater Society through which he has taken the power of street play and theater to communicate social messages on child abuse, harassment of women and human rights issues. His creative talent and interest to work with children makes him a great fit at NalandaWay. Milton writes scripts and directs plays in his spare time.
Vinoth Kumar, Junior Associate – Projects
Vinoth Kumar is a Civil Engineer and worked as a lecturer at Gudiyattam Polytechnic College, Gudiyattam, Tamil Nadu. He loves being a teacher and dreamt of working with children. What better fit than NalandaWay? In his free time Vinoth is either playing Cricket or dancing with friends.
Dhanraj K, Office Assistant
With his quiet ways and gentle demeanour, Dhanraj is our Man Friday at NalandaWay. Responsible for a multitude of tasks ranging from sourcing of art materials to helping out with admin duties and office maintenance, Dhanraj has endeared himself to everyone by being the jack of all trades.