Leading with Vision and Commitment
Leadership of the Pratham Foundation India
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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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.

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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.

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Pratham AUS Board


Pratham AUS has been established in Sydney as a charitable, not-for-profit organisation to raise funds for the Pratham Education Foundation India. Pratham AUS has a board of 9 members:


Sarita Chand


Sarita (BArch) has had a 20-year architectural career in Australia where she was a Partner at BVN Architecture. During this time she was also involved in several associated organisations, including being a Councillor with the Australian Institute of Architects, an Examiner with the NSW Board of Architects, a Director on the board of the National Association of Women in Construction, and the Premier’s appointee on the NSW Arts Council. Before coming to Australia Sarita worked and lived in India, Malaysia and England.  She now lives in Sydney and London. 


Victoria Smyth


Victoria has a BAppSc (Arch) degree from Canberra University and has worked in the areas of Graphic Design, Colour Consulting and Architectural Heritage. She co-authored ‘Warehouse and Woolstores of Victorian Sydney’ and ‘The Heritage of Australia’ and has lived in Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong. Most recently Victoria has been involved in voluntary work for the homeless and for 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), UK, and is a Fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as well as CPA Australia.   Piyush most recently worked in a large community housing company in Sydney and previous to that, at The University of Sydney (Finance Director followed by HR Director). Prior experience has been in the for-profit sector in Australia and overseas (Asia, UK, Europe, Africa and South America). He has previously 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 has recently returned to Sydney after spending 18 months in India where she participated in experiential learning programs, met impressive leaders of NGOs catering for the needs of street children and provided support to the CEO of Outward Bound India to develop a strategy for building corporate responsibility partnerships with the private sector. In Australia Debbie has had a long career in urban renewal and social sustainability, including 15 years with Lend Lease in senior management roles. She has built a reputation for project leadership, building effective teams and stakeholder relationships with employees, business partners, investors, Government agencies and the community. Debbie has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.


Jill Weekes OAM


Jill is currently working as a coach and mentor to business executives. Prior to this, she was the CEO of the 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. Prior to that Jill had an extensive career in advertising and marketing. She was Equity Trustee's 2007 NFP CEO of the Year; 2007 Telstra Business Woman of the Year NSW Finalist; JML Director of the Year (2006); Harvard Club Scholarship winner to Strategic Perspectives in NFP Management (2002) and Scholarship winner AGSM Senior Management Program (2000).


Richard Banks


Richard has been a practising optometrist for nearly thirty years, gaining experience both in Australia and the United Kingdom. A graduate from the University of New South Wales, he established his own practice in Sydney’s Woollahra in 1999. For many years, Richard has been involved in fund raising activities with the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He was a member of the Young Friends Committee in the early nineties, and is currently involved with the Contemporary Collection Benefactors group and Art Gallery Foundation. He is also a board member of the Queen Street & West Woollahra Association. His wife, Chrissie Jeffery, has been a frequent and regular visitor to India for over thirty years, supporting ethical and sustainable mills and weavers, which manufacture textiles for her interior decorating business "No Chintz".

Ritu Bajaj

Ritu (B.Econ, M.Econ, MBA) kickstarted her career as a management trainee in the hospitality industry and subsequently progressed it through a management consulting role with A.T Kearney and several years working within the Regulatory Strategy Group at Telstra. She has co-developed and launched a recipe sharing app and is the founder and Director of the Asha Foundation. She is fluent in English and Hindi and is an ongoing student of the Italian language. 

Pratham AUS Advisory Panel

Rosemary Kirkby

Principal, Rosemary Kirkby & Associates. Rosemary is known for her expertise in the leadership of organisational change. She has done so through executive roles with large Australian companies including the Lend Lease Group, MLC, NAB and most recently, with The GPT Group as its Head of Sustainability. 


Lalit Sharma

B.Tech Civil IIT Kanpur, M.Bld.Sc Sydney University. Retired Senior Project Manager Infrastructure. Lalit has extensive experience in high level project management of large infrastructure projects in the Public Sector, including management of probity issues and procurement services.


Nim Rutnam


Nimalan is Founder & CEO of Rutnam Advisory and currently serves as a member of the Ministerial Advisory Council in the NSW Government. Nim is known for his legal expertise in Life Sciences, Innovation & Technology and has advised numerous companies including Mars Inc, Bausch & Lomb, and Biersdorf amongst many others. Nim has served on the Boards of Industry Associations and was the former General Counsel & Executive Director for Procter & Gamble Australasia.


Sanjay Shah - IT/Website Support


Robert Mayberry - Honorary Auditor 


© 2020 PRATHAM AUS is volunteer run, not-profit, charitable organisation. It is registered with the ACNC and ATO with a DGR 1 status.

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