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Pratham USA Names Dr. Molly Easo Smith As Executive Director

Press Release

Pratham USA has named Dr. Molly Smith as its Executive Director. A 501(c)(3) organization, Pratham USA primarily raises money to support the efforts of Pratham to ensure that every child in India is in school and learning well.

“The opportunity to bring my experiences in India, the UK, and the US to bear on extending Pratham's powerful mission and positive impact on individuals and communities is an extraordinary opportunity in service and leadership,” says Dr. Smith. “This position allows me to wed my interests in educational excellence, access to learning, India, globalism, and philanthropy into a single role.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Smith has spoken about the power of philanthropy to transform communities and lives and about the compelling responsibility we all share as global citizens to ensure that all children have the opportunity to acquire a quality education. As Executive Director of Pratham USA, she will lead philanthropic outreach efforts to ensure that the children of India receive quality education as a foundation from which to improve their lives.

“We are extremely excited to have Dr. Smith assume the role of Executive Director,” says Dr. Atul Varadhachary, President of Pratham USA. “She is an outstanding educator and proven leader who distinguished herself throughout our search process.”

“Her passion for education and providing quality learning for all children drives her commitments and we look forward to seeing Pratham USA’s mission and Pratham’s impact extend further under her leadership,” says Arvind Sanger, Chairman of the Board of Pratham USA.

Smith says her immediate task at Pratham USA will be to work closely with the organization’s Board of Directors, the fifteen Chapter Leaders in the USA, the national Executive Leadership Team, and volunteers across the US, as well as with Pratham’s leadership in India, to continue the organization’s phenomenal success since its founding in 1994. Pratham currently has programs in nineteen of the twenty eight states in India.

A Shakespeare scholar, Dr. Smith has previously held positions as President, Provost, Dean, and Professor of English at several colleges and universities in the United States as well as at the University of Aberdeen in the UK. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Fairleigh Dickinson University and on the Executive Committee of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), where she leads an initiative to develop women as academic leaders globally; Dr. Smith is a representative of the IAUP to the United Nations.

Dr. Smith will be working closely with Pratham USA’s National Board of Directors.  Most recently, Dinyar “Dinny” Devitre joined several other successful and prominent leaders from the Indian-American community – including Avinash Ahuja, Sudesh Arora, Vijay Goradia, Jaideep Khanna, Paul Pandian, and Arvind Sanger – as a member of Pratham USA’s national Board.

Dr. Smith was born in Chennai (India) and earned her undergraduate degree from Ethiraj College for Women, her M. A. in English from Madras Christian College, and her Ph.D. from Auburn University. Smith has written two books and several articles on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama and regularly lectures on a number of subjects, including the transformative power of education and women’s leadership. She assumes her new position with Pratham USA on Monday, July 2nd.

About Pratham USA and Pratham:

Pratham USA (www.prathamusa.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with has been awarded a four-star rating, the highest possible, from Charity Navigator for the past 6 consecutive years. Pratham USA currently has chapters in 15 cities throughout the United States. The organization accepts tax deductible contributions from U.S. donors to support the mission of Pratham in India to ensure that “Every child is in school and learning well.”

Pratham (www.pratham.org), which means "first" in Sanskrit, was founded with UNICEF support in the slums of Mumbai in 1994.  Today, Pratham’s direct urban programs, including pre-schools, community libraries, and remedial learning programs reach hundreds of thousands of children annually.  In 2007, with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Pratham launched its flagship Read India Campaign, an innovative, low-cost effort to reach the 100 million children in India who cannot read, write or do basic math.

Pratham's Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) evaluates India's status of education through direct testing of more than 700,000 children in 16,000 villages across India.  ASER is the only annual measurement of basic literacy and numeracy conducted at scale in India today. To support newly literate children across India, Pratham Books has published more than 200 titles in 11 languages.  Pratham's programs have been recognized internationally for their innovation and impact.

With an annual budget of less than $14 million, Pratham USA combines large-scale success with high efficiency and impact – 94 percent of all money donated to Pratham USA goes directly into Pratham’s educational programs and only 6 percent funds administrative costs.

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