"What is one of my favorite quotes that inspires me? Well one comes from the German philosopher Goethe, which says, 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, you can; boldness has a genius, magic, and power to it.' This sat by my desk 11 years ago when I cofounded Room to Read. And it's still by my desk everyday now, inspiring me to dream big, reach for the stars, and set bold goals. And it what's help us create the magic at Room to Read, that allows us to impact the lives of so many children around the world." -- Erin Keown Ganju
Motivational Strategies Part II
Erin Keown Ganju is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Room to Read, an organization that seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, Room to Read develops literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school. Prominently featured in John Wood’s book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children, Erin has been instrumental in creating the scalable approach Room to Read employs to create flexible, adaptable programming to meet the diverse needs of each of its partner communities.
By working closely with nine in-country teams and two regional teams, Erin manages the design of Room to Read’s programs as well as its launches into new regions. She also oversees Room to Read’s more than 500 employees and operations worldwide, including the Programs, Development, Finance and Human Resources departments.
Under her leadership, Room to Read has been recognized with prestigious awards, including the Draper Richards Fellowship, the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, American Library Association’s Presidential Citation for International Innovation award. Room to Read is also one of the few organizations to win the Fast Company/Monitor Social Capitalist Award every year since its inception. In addition, Erin has delivered presentations to audiences at conferences nationwide on the importance of empowering girls through education, and she was a featured speaker on the topic of scaling social good at TEDx Berkeley.
Erin has spent extensive time working and living overseas in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, where she has seen firsthand the need to enhance developing countries’ educational systems. After living in Ho Chi Minh City for more than two years, she developed a lifelong passion for the development of Vietnam and managed the launch of Room to Read there, which marked the first operation outside of Nepal.
Prior to joining Room to Read in 2001, she held high ranking positions with Silicon Valley-based technology company Dejima, Inc., e-Commerce infrastructure provider Network Commerce, leading consumer products company Unilever N.V., and international investment bank Goldman, Sachs
Erin holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in International Relations and Economics from Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. She and her husband, Dr. Jitendra Ganju, have a daughter, Julia. Her family shares her passion for empowering developing communities with educational opportunities. Her husband is a first generation college graduate who knows firsthand how education can impact one’s opportunities in life. Her daughter enjoys Room to Read’s local language books, especially reading about Tommy Tempo, the rebel tuk tuk from Nepal.
Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than five million children by providing increased access to high-quality educational opportunities through its growing network of libraries and schools, local language children’s books and its girls’ education program. Room to Read is changing children’s lives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia and aims to reach 10 million children by 2015.