Rakesh Rajani Director, Democratic Participation and Governance, Ford Foundation
Rakesh Rajani leads the Civic Engagement and Government team and has directed the foundation’s work to advance democratic participation and transparent, effective, and accountable governance. Rakesh joined the foundation in 2015. A global leader on issues of social justice, he has been at the forefront of citizen engagement and government accountability for two decades. He currently serves on the board of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the board of directors at the International Budget Partnership, and the advisory board of the Open Contracting Partnership.
Before joining the foundation in 2015, Rakesh was based in Tanzania, where he served as head of Twaweza (We Can Make It Happen), an organization he founded to promote basic learning, advance access to information, and increase government responsiveness in East Africa.
Previously, Rakesh served as the lead civil society chair for the Open Government Partnership, an initiative to promote government openness, responsiveness and accountability. He founded and served as executive director for HakiElimu (Education Rights), combining pioneering research with humor and satire to
engage citizens in education reform. An earlier venture, Kuleana Centre for Children’s Rights, which Rakesh co-founded in his hometown of Mwanza, Tanzania, became one of Africa’s leading centers for children’s rights and established Tanzania’s first center for sexual health, linking work on HIV/AIDS, sexuality, youth, gender, and human rights.
Rakesh holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and in English and American literature from Brandeis University.