A Global Organization with Strong Roots in India, Gains Recognition for Leadership

Bill Drayton - Entrepreneur For Social Change

Bill Drayton, CEO and founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a global organization started in India in 1981 that pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship, was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by US News & World Report and Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership. Drayton was selected because of his continual contributions to the success of innovative ideas, particularly in his efforts as CEO and chairman of Ashoka.

From an early age, Drayton witness firsthand the power of the individual and impact of new ideas based on non-violence, innovation and high ethical standards while traveling across India with Vinova Bhave as a young man. Inspired by powerful Indian visionaries such as Bhave and Mahatma Gandhi, Drayton would go on to name his organization after another Indian social innovator-Ashoka, the 3rd century B.C. Emperor of India who was considered one of the world's first social entrepreneurs.

Since then, Drayton has made it his life's work to not only expand Ashoka's network of social entrepreneurs but also develop the citizen sector as a whole, empowering everyone to be a changemaker. "Right now, 2 or 3 percent of people control changes," Drayton said in the U.S. News and World Report article. "Imagine a world where everyone is really a change maker."

Ashoka is creating the fastest-growing global community of social entrepreneurs who deliver innovative solutions to social problems. To build this global citizen sector, Ashoka identifies & supports leading social entrepreneurs, creates opportunities for collaboration, and builds systems and institutions that facilitate high impact social solutions.

Ashoka elected its first leading social entrepreneurs, Ashoka Fellows, in India in 1981. Since then, the organization has identified and supported over 1,600 Fellows in 60 countries, including more than 400 social entrepreneurs in Asia. For the past 25 years, India has served as a testing ground for most of Ashoka's international Fellowship building programs and other key initiatives.

Sushmita Ghosh, who is completing a five-year term as President at Ashoka's global headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, will be returning to India to split her time between the two locations. Ghosh, who graduated at the top of her class at the University of Delhi, served as Ashoka's country representative for India from 1989 to 1997.

After 25 years of creating an environment for social entrepreneurship to thrive globally, Ashoka recently announced a new, innovative shift in its leadership structure by naming Diana Wells and Anamaria Schindler as Co-Presidents of Ashoka. Wells, with strong ties in India, and Schindler, based in Brazil, will be taking over many key regional duties of current President Ghosh, whose return to India will allow for greater integration and collaboration between India and the global citizen sector. The leadership transition not only reflects Ashoka's long history with India, but marks India's prominence in Ashoka's evolving global leadership team.

Venkatesh M.Raghavendra
Director, Global Partnerships for Asia
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
1700 North Moore Street
Suite 2000 Arlington VA 22209 USA

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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