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Pratham Foundation Leadership

Pratham has had a long history of having an impact on children and young adults in India. Thanks to an experienced team of researchers and practitioners from a range of industries, along with so many passionate supporters who have made generous investments in education and in India.

Pratham Education Foundation India

Pratham Foundation is based in India with chapters all over the world, including Australia. Meet Pratham Foundations leadership here.

Dr. Madhav Chavan

Pratham Co-Founder and President

After obtaining a PhD in chemistry from Ohio State University and serving on the faculty at the University of Houston, Dr. Madhav Chavan returned to India where he worked in the slums of Mumbai as part of the National Literacy Mission.

Farida Lambay

Pratham Co-Founder

With 25 years of experience as an education and social activist, Farida Lambay co-founded Pratham in 1995 with Dr. Madhav Chavan. She heads the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children and is also responsible for Pratham’s direct programs in Mumbai and Gujarat.

Dr. Rukmini Banerji

Pratham CEO

Trained as an economist in India, Dr. Rukmini Banerji completed her BA at St. Stephen’s College and attended the Delhi School of Economics. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and earned her PhD at the University of Chicago.

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Pratham Australia Board

Pratham AUS was established in Sydney as a charitable, not-for-profit organisation to raise funds for the Pratham Education Foundation India. The Pratham AUS board includes:

Sarita Chand

Sarita (BArch) has had a 20-year architectural career in Australia where she was a Partner at BVN Architecture. She has been actively involved in associated organisations, such as the Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Board of Architects, NSW Arts Council, and the National Association of Women in Construction. Before coming to Australia Sarita worked as an architect in India, Malaysia and England.

Victoria Smyth

Victoria has a BAppSc (Arch) degree from Canberra University and has worked in Graphic Design, Colour Consulting and is an author specializing  in Architectural Heritage. She has also done volunteer work for the homeless and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Alka Marwaha

Alka graduated in Home Economics from Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi. She then moved to Germany, Australia, Japan, India, USA and Singapore for her husband’s work. While in Australia she worked at Telstra for several years and now lives in Sydney.

Piyush Bhatt

Piyush (B Sci, FCA, FCPA, GAICD) has a Bachelor degree in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester (UMIST). He has experience working in a community housing company in Sydney as well as in the for-profit sector in Australia and overseas. Piyush has also served on the Board of the Sydney University Cricket Club.

Guy Beres

Guy (B. Sci, MA) is a Senior Solution Architect with Salesforce with 20 years of experience delivering and leading the delivery of IT solutions to top tier corporate clients in Sydney, Melbourne and London. He is a published writer with a keen interest in politics and the evolution of news media.

Debra (Debbie) Berkhout

Debbie spent 18 months participaing in experiential learning programs in India, where she met with NGOs taking care of street children and developed strategies for building corporate responsibility partnerships in the private sector. In Australia, Debbie’s career has focused on urban renewal and social sustainability.

Jill Weekes OAM

Jill is a coach and mentor to business executives. Previously she was CEO at Starlight Children's Foundation for 12 years, leading the growth from a small Sydney charity to a national organisation delivering services to over 250,000 seriously ill children and their families each year.

Richard Banks

A graduate of the University of New South Wales, Richard has been a practising optometrist for nearly 30 years, with an established practice in Sydney’s Woollahra. He has also been actively involved in arts organisations throughout Australia.

Ritu Bajaj

Early in her career, Ritu (B.Econ, M.Econ, MBA) held a management consulting role with A.T Kearney and worked within the Regulatory Strategy Group at Telstra. She is also the founder and Director of the Asha Foundation.


Our Patrons

Pratham Australia is proudly supported by well known and highly accomplished patrons:

Mr Greg Chappell MBE

Greg captained the Australian Cricket Team 48 times and was inducted into the Australian Sport Hall of Fame in December 1986. Since retirement, he has served as a Board member on the Australian Cricket Board and Queensland Cricket. Greg is a Patron of the LBW Trust  – a well-known NGO that assists with the tertiary/vocational education of students in 7 developing countries in South Asia and Africa

Mr Peter FitzSimons AM

Peter is an Australian journalist and author who has published several books on Australian historic events and biographies of eminent Australians. He is a former radio presenter, a national representative rugby union player, and was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011 for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator, and to the community through contributions to conservation, disability care, social welfare and sporting organisations.

Mr Darshak Mehta OAM

Darshak served as Patron  & Co-founder of The LBW Trust ( – a well-known NGO (Non-Government Organisation), which assists with the tertiary/vocational education of students in 7 developing countries in South Asia and Africa. He is also the Chairman of The Chappell Foundation (, set up to raise funds for frontline organisations who are working to provide refuge, nourishment and a better future for homeless youth.

Darshak was the youngest President of the Bombay Industries Association and Managing Committee Member of the venerable Indian Merchants Chamber as well as Vice-Chairman of several Customs and Central Excise Advisory, Grievance & Watchdog Panels/Committees constituted by the Ministry of Finance, Govt of India, in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Hon. John Faulkner

John was a member of the Australian Senate from 1989 to 2015, representing the State of New South Wales. He was a Minister in the Keating Labor Government from 1993 to 1996. After the defeat of the Keating Government, John served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1996 to 2004. With the election of the Rudd Government in 2007, he was appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council, Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State. He served as Minister for Defence from June 2009 to September 2010. On 1 July 2014, John became the Father of the Australian Senate until he retired on 6 February 2015. He is currently the Chairman of the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University and actively supports a number of charitable causes.

Mr Neville Roach AO

Neville is highly respected as a business and community leader, particularly in the IT industry, the Education and Research sector, multicultural community relations and Australia’s overseas relations with India. He chairs and/or sits on the board of several industry bodies, including entities within TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), OneSteel Limited, and VFS Australia (Visa Outsourcing services). In April 2008 he was appointed Honorary “Ambassador to India” by the NSW Government. In 2000 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to business, particularly in the IT industry and for his contribution to the development of Australian multiculturalism.

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