Manisha Bharti Appointed as First Chief Executive Officer of Pratham USA and Global Executive

NEW YORK, July 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Pratham, one of India’s largest and most respected education NGOs, announces the appointment of Manisha Bharti as the first Chief Executive Officer of Pratham USA and Global Executive. Bharti brings more than 25 years of professional experience in global development, having held positions at leading organizations like FHI 360 and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She is currently Chief of Strategy and Programs at GHR Foundation, one of Minnesota’s largest philanthropic organizations, where she oversees a grant portfolio within health, education and international development.

In recent years, Pratham has undergone tremendous growth, witnessing increased acclaim and demand for its expertise in India and internationally. "The position of Chief Executive Officer and Global Executive has been established to unify Pratham’s business development, strategy and communications," says Deepak Raj, Chairman of Pratham USA. "Manisha’s appointment marks a significant commitment by the organization to strengthen our US chapters while enhancing our brand globally and improving alignment across regions."

"Manisha is ideally suited for this role," explains Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder and President of Pratham. "Throughout her career, she has driven change, scaled organizations and displayed a talent for bringing people together—invaluable assets for helping shape Pratham’s future."

Pratham CEO Dr. Rukmini Banerji echoes the enthusiasm: "We are delighted to have someone of Manisha’s caliber joining us at this pivotal moment for our organization. Our India and US teams have always worked very closely with one another, but this was particularly true during COVID. Together, we can go from strength to strength while at the same time supporting the growth of our international work. With her background and experience, Manisha will be an integral part of this next phase of Pratham."

According to Bharti, Pratham’s work is especially relevant at this time: "There is such a need for the kind of grassroots, high-quality education Pratham provides with its community-based and digital platforms that are increasingly global in scope. I’m excited and humbled by this opportunity to help shepherd and co-author Pratham’s next chapter. I look forward to working with the global team to deepen Pratham’s impact in India and share its learnings to improve education around the world."

Executive Director Bala Venkatachalam will remain in his position until the transition is complete, at which time he will assume a new global role within the organization. "Bala has done an outstanding job these past seven years," says Raj. "He has grown our US infrastructure, increased funding and built strong ties between our India and US teams."

Bharti’s appointment is effective September 2021.

Pursuing its mission of "every child in school and learning well," Pratham promotes basic literacy as a means to establish a secure foundation for learning, both in and out of school. Pratham collaborates with governments, communities, educators, and industry to focus on innovative ways to address gaps in India’s education system. With a vast network spanning 21 Indian states, the organization has reached 75 million children and youth since its inception.

Pratham’s work has been recognized through major International awards, including the Asia Game Changer Award, the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the WISE Prize for Education, the Henry R. Kravis Leadership Prize, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and most recently the 2018 LUI Che Woo Prize.

Pratham USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with 14 chapters across the United States that raise awareness and mobilize financial resources. The volunteer-driven organization ranks among the top 2% of all nonprofits in America, consistently achieving a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for "sound fiscal management" and "commitment to accountability and transparency." For more information, visit

Anuja Butala 
Director Pratham USA