Team Members

Sejal Desai, Executive Director
Sejal has been a passionate advocate and supporter of various US and India based nonprofits focusing on education, hunger relief and women’s issues. Her 30-year career includes work in sectors like venture capital, M&A, accounting, entrepreneurship, nonprofit and corporate social responsibility. Most recently, she worked at Communities Foundation of Texas, where she led a strategic initiative focused on engaging businesses in the community. She also has experience supporting individuals and families with their philanthropic giving and engagement. Among other career highlights, she also started a social venture, SevaYatra focused on engaging US based universities and multinational corporations with India based NGOs. Sejal was born in India and lived and worked in Mumbai for 20 years. She is a Chartered Accountant from India and holds a Masters in Business Administration from University of Texas at Dallas and Masters in Liberal Studies from Southern Methodist University. Sejal is a passionate and engaged citizen of both countries and joined Akanksha in 2021 with a strong desire to transform lives through education.
Khushbu S.
Khushbu Srivastava, Director of Strategy and Development

Khushbu is an independent consultant joining Akanksha as the Director of Strategy and Development. Khushbu has a seventeen-year track record of leading high-yield initiatives for human rights, gender empowerment and social justice efforts across 15 countries. Khushbu has worked with a range of organizations including UN Women, UNFPA and CARE India. Khushbu thrives in elevating social justice missions and has raised over $26 million dollars in collaboration with diverse teams, Executives and Board. Khushbu holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, as well as a Master’s in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University. Based on her experiences working and living in India and globally, Khushbu is deeply passionate about the transformative potential of education. Khushbu resides in Pennsylvania and New York City.

Sagarika Senapaty, Corporate and Donor Engagement Officer

Sagarika brings with her extensive experience in project management, program development and stakeholder engagement. She was most recently the Head of Special Projects at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore developing and launching its new and large scale programs. As part of her role, she oversaw all project aspects, from ideation to execution, and partnered closely with the Chamber’s corporate members. Sagarika also worked with the World Bank in Washington D.C. after completing her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Chicago. While studying in Chicago, she also worked with the Neighborhood Schools Program as a teaching assistant. Sagarika has always had a keen interest in the education sector, and having grown up in India, understands the challenges associated with equitable access to quality education. Through her role at the Akanksha Education Fund, she aims to contribute towards positively shaping the lives of underserved children in India.

Chandrima Poddar, Alumni Engagement Officer

Chandrima joins us with over 8 years of work experience in the financial sector. She has performed various roles including project management, corporate finance, strategic consulting and analytics at American Express. Chandrima grew up in India and completed her bachelors and Masters in Mathematics and Economics respectively from the University of Delhi. After which she moved to the US to pursue her second masters at the University of Chicago. Having grown up in India, Chandrima understands the struggles of the underprivileged to access a decent level of education. She has often volunteered her time to teach and work with kids at the underserved schools in Delhi and Manhattan. Her passion for education and dedication brings her to Akanksha. After a successful career at American Express, Chandrima took a break to raise her family, and is now very excited to resume her career with Akanksha.

Sherie Salzwedel, Program Associate

Sherie is an independent consultant joining Akanksha as a Program Associate with nearly twenty years in the education and nonprofit sectors. In her most recent role at EL Education, she supported directors, teachers, and public school districts with the implementation of a K-8 language arts curriculum with the goal of reaching higher levels of student achievement and equitable access for students. Prior to EL, she was at the American Leadership Forum of Oregon (ALF), an organization specializing in bringing diverse leaders throughout the state together to work on meaningful change initiatives. Sherie oversaw the operations, bookkeeping, and finances of the program. Before ALF, Sherie spent nearly ten years at AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS-USA), an international student exchange organization supporting and guiding students with their unique cross-cultural experiences. Her great joy was working with colleagues, volunteers, families, and students across the globe with the focus of making a more peaceful and just world. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Sherie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Oregon State University. She is passionate about being in service for the public good, working tirelessly to help create more equitable access opportunities for all learners.