Power Dynamics, Philanthropy and Global Justice: Limits and Possibilities

Monday, April 26, 2021

10:00-11:30am PDT [1:00-2:30pm EDT]

Kavita N. Ramdas, in conversation with Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

Kavita N. Ramdas will discuss how to negotiate the deeply entrenched power dynamics of the world of philanthropy from the perspective of an activist and advocate dedicated to social justice.  Based on her decades of experience working in the field, her talk will explore the limits and possibilities of philanthropy for social transformation in education and related fields of policy and practice.

Kavita N. Ramdas is director of the Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program and is a globally recognized advocate for gender equity and justice. She previously served as strategy advisor for MADRE, an international women’s rights organization. From 1996 to 2010, Ramdas served as the second president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women where she transformed it into the largest public foundation for women’s rights in the world. From 2012 to 2015, she led the Ford Foundation’s operations in South Asia and then was senior advisor to President Darren Walker on issues related to the foundation’s global strategy. Ramdas also founded a program on social entrepreneurship housed at Stanford University

She is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows Program. Ramdas has served on numerous boards including those of Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Ramdas currently serves on the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation, and is a member of the governing boards for the Ploughshares Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She has appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers, PBS NewsHour, Democracy Now!, and CNN.


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is the Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Previously she founded and was Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator that invests in high-achieving young women from under-resourced families, who are passionate about driving change in their communities. She is a 2018 Tutu Fellow, has been honored as a Champion of Change by the Obama White House, named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine, recognised as a Ford Foundation Champion of Democracy, awarded a United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award, and named one of Kenya’s Top 40 Women Under Age 40. Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg holds a PhD and Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, a Bachelors in Politics and a Doctorate of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from Whitman College.

Chair: Kathryn Moeller, University of Wisconsin – Madison