Chief Executive Officer
Naveen Jha is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Deshpande Foundation, India. He has been with the foundation since its inception in India bringing a vision of enabling local solutions through a bottom-up approach. Naveen graduated from Brandeis University, a top ranked university in the USA, with a Masters in International Development and was the recipient of the prestigious Ford Foundation Fellowship. He has also taken numerous courses at MIT’s Poverty Lab and Harvard University.
Under Naveen’s leadership, the Foundation has touched thousands of lives including non-profits, students, youth, academics and universities. A serial entrepreneur himself, Naveen has launched several initiatives within and outside of the Deshpande Foundation. Naveen is passionate about mentoring youth who are interested in social entrepreneurship. This has led to the launch of several highly successful fellowship programs that has produced hundreds of graduates now working with social enterprises all over India. Naveen has also pioneered a series of youth development programs that helps transform the attitudes of young people into solving problems locally. One of these programs, LEAD, has more than ten thousand students engaged in problem solving in their communities and has unleashed the power of social change within their neighborhoods. Under his direction, within the Northwestern Karnataka footprint of the foundation, an innovative grant making program has led to several effective and scalable models of development.
Naveen has helped build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Hubli Sandbox consisting of the Greater Hubli/Dharwad area. He has been instrumental in founding the local chapter of TiE, one of the largest international non-profits promoting entrepreneurship, and serves as its current President. In addition to TiE, Naveen also serves as a board member of several for profit and non-profit organizations. Prior to his work with the Deshpande Foundation, Naveen worked for six years at PRADAN, a pioneering livelihoods organization where, as Team leader, he helped create usable and sustainable prototypes of livelihoods programs and water resource management.
Dr. Neelam Maheshwari received her PhD in Gender Studies from the State University of New York in Buffalo in 2012 and her Masters in International Development from Brandeis University in Boston in 2007. Neelam brings with her over ten years of experience promoting small enterprises, producer collectives and community led microfinance.
At the Deshpande Foundation, Neelam manages Hubli sandbox’s livelihoods and small enterprises program; where she has helped several organizations develop revenue models of their program, launch community led producer collectives and market led livelihoods initiatives. Besides monitoring and managing partnership with Sandbox partners, Neelam helps create prototypes that drive entrepreneurial opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. In 2011 she initiated a unique program “Navodyami” that has assisted over hundred small entrepreneurs in the Hubli Sandbox by providing mentorship, financial and marketing support. She is passionate about issues of gender, equity and entrepreneurship and was instrumental in launching a a very active women’s chapter of TiE Hubli which works to mentor women-led startups in the region.
Before joining her current organization, Neelam taught several courses at SUNY Buffalo for two years and supported the fundraising efforts for a women’s community fund in Boston. Neelam previously worked at Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), an award winning livelihoods organization in India. At PRADAN Neelam led a team of professionals to launch several livelihoods programs in draught prone regions of Rajasthan State including microcredit enterprises, natural resource management programs and the first women’s dairy cooperative. Seeking to bridge her interest in academia and action, Neelam also writes about and engages in addressing the challenges of building enterprises that catalyze wealth generation opportunities for resource constrained communities.
Stanley George Gundi
Director - Admin and Operations
Stanley has joined the Deshpande Foundation as the Director of Operations. He handles the overall administration, facility management and legal matters of the Foundation.He has 13 years of experience in for-profit organizations in the finance and FMCG sectors. Stanley has completed his degree in arts, specializing in economics, political Science and anthropology.
Ajay Suman Shukla
Team Leader, LEAD Program
Ajay Suman earned his post-graduate degree (MSW) and MPhil in Social Work from the University of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. For a year and a half, Ajay worked with the Lucknow NGO Sahayog Society where he coordinated gender awareness programs with universities, college youth and men in Uttar Pradesh at the state level; in this role, Ajay supported the awareness of gender equality and violence against women. Ajay also graduated from the Deshpande Fellowship Program(DFP), a program that highlighted social entrepreneurship and development. Upon graduation, Ajay was hired as a program manager of the Deshpande Foundation’s LEAD program as his passion has always been in working with youth. Since then, Ajay has taken on a senior management role as functional head of the LEAD program where he initiated LEAD Prayana, an excursion program where college-aged youth are provided with the tools to unleash the leadership potential within themselves; as Ajay believes young and self-motivated LEADers from all over the world can make lasting positive change in society.
Annie received her MBA graduation from Bangalore University, with HR and Systems as her specialization. Soon after her post-graduation, she started her career with the Deshpande Foundation, as a LEAD Program Manager in 2008. After completing 2.5 years of her services with LEAD, she chose to transition into in a Human Resource position where she currently serves as a Human Resource Manager with the Foundation. Annie also brings experience in working as a Project Officer with Agastya International where she played a critical role in the event Jignyasa. She considers herself to be very proactive and a self-initiator.
Program Manager, DSK Program
Guranagouda was born and raised in Dharwad District. He completed his MSW at Karnataka University, Dharwad. Following his graduation, he worked for an NGO called Toxic Links for two and a half years as a capacity building officer. Guru graduated from Deshpande Fellowship Program in March 2011 and thereafter joined Deshpande Susandhi Fellowship Program as Program Manager. He is interested in the social development sector, especially in training.
Jagadeesh N Hanchinal
Program Manager, DSF Program
Jagadeesh N Hanchinal received his Masters of Management of Non-Profit Organizations from Vivekananda Institute of Leadership Development, which is affiliated with the University of Mysore. Jagadeesh received his BA degree from the JSS Arts, Science and Commerce College, Gokak. During his BA program, he received his NCC 'C' certificate. During his graduate studies, Jagadeesh completed a research study on "Reasons for Attrition in Non-Profit Organizations". He was selected for the Deshpande Fellowship Program in 2009, of which he is a graduate of Cohort II. After completion of DFP, Jagadeesh worked for one year as a Project Coordinator with TIDE.
Ketan Nagada is a Graduate in Commerce from the University of Mumbai and has a Diploma in Financial Management from Wellingkar's Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai. After graduation, Ketan interned with a chartered accountant from 1997 to 2002, where he gained experience in auditing, finalization of accounts, direct and indirect taxation, income-tax raids and high-detailed analysis of various trades and industries. From 2003 to 2009, he worked with Maruti, Hero Honda, and Tata. His professional skills include general administration, co-ordination, developing partnerships across agencies, and communication.
Neeta Pradeep Habba
Program Manager, DFP Program
Neeta Pradeep Habba is from Solapur, Maharashtra. She completed her M.S.W. from Walchand College of Arts & Science from University of Solapur. She graduated from Deshpande Fellowship Program in March 2011.While pursuing her M.S.W, Neeta conducted research entitled "A Study on the Knowledge and Attitude about Child Rights among Secondary School Teachers and their Role in Promotion of Child Rights." Neeta is inspired by social work and currently works as a program manager for Deshpande Fellowship Program (DFP) for one and half year. Neeta believes that passionate and skilled human resource can definitely contribute in solving current social issues.
Program Manager - Agriculture and BCI
Presently working with Deshpande Foundation in promotion of Better Cotton Initiative project in addition acting as a program manager of Deshpande Sushandi Krishi Chetana Fellowship program to build human resource for agriculture sector and make them employee bale in the sector. Mohammad Innuskhan worked with SST-PRADAN NGO in Rajasthan to enhancing livelihood opportunities for poor families through Natural Resource Management and Micro finance. Mohammad Innuskhan received master degree from Rajasthan University in Political Science and I also did Horticulture Diploma from India Council of Agriculture Research New Dehli.
Iranna Shivanand Rotte
Program Manager, Navodyami Program
Iranna is working as a Program Manager for Navodyami, a program launched by Deshpande Foundation to mentor and support micro-entrepreneurs of the Sandbox region. Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked as a social worker for Street Children Project with SATHI, Pune. Iranna is a fellow of Deshpande Fellowship Program and holds a Master's in Social Work from Sholapur University.
Program Manager, LEAD Program
Amrut joins LEAD after receiving a Bachelor's of Commerce from JSS College, Karnataka University, Dharwad, and completing the Deshpande Fellowship Program. During college, he worked with LEAD on projects such as fundraising for North Karnataka flood areas and money handling in rural areas. Amrut is very passionate about working with youth to make powerful, positive change. Through his work, he hopes to utilize his skills, grow professionally and work toward the success of LEAD and Deshpande Foundation.
Krishnnaji C M
Program Manager, Technology for Common
Mr.Krishnaji C M is currently the Program Manager for Deshpande Fellowship Program. He imparts Information and Communication Technology training to fellows and also mentors all the teaching staff of Technology for Common Program. He also coordinates for all the modules and placement and grooms the fellows to become a successful development sector professional.
He holds Master of Social Work from Davangere University and also recipient of Deshpande Fellowship Program. He is passionate about training youth on Information and Technology and believes that technology would be a key aspect to make a life better. Till now he trained more than 3000 dynamic fellows. His goal is to set up his educational venture where he would like to develop the skills required at execution level for youth which could be a turning point for their career. His interests are learning new technological aspects and delivering to the professionals.
Savita Y Naganagoudar
Manager People Functioning (HR)
Mrs.Savita Y Naganagoudar is from Hubli, Karnataka. She graduated with both an MSW and an MBA and participated in the Desphande Fellowship Program in 2009. She conducted research on "Employee Job Satisfaction in NJK Enterprises, Bangalore" and in her Fellowship developed a Business Plan on "Career Guidance Center for North Karnataka".Since, 2007 she has worked as an HR professional, and was associated with CAPART as a young professional - HR, the Deshpande Foundation as Consultant for Human Capital (Fellows), Navachtana Microfinance Services Pvt Ltd as a Manager - HR and Administration, and Muthoot Fin Corp Pvt Lt LTD as Sr. Regional HR. At present she is working with Deshpande Foundation as Manager People Functioning (HR) & Alumni Coordinator .She is also earning her scholarship from "Asian HR board" for the licentiate HRM Professional.
Sanjeev V. Kulkarni
Program Associate – Grantmaking & Partnerships
Sanjeev is full time development professional ever since his graduation in Bachelor of Arts in 2005. He started his career in non-profits with a pioneering organization Vidya Poshak in the mission of assisting talented but financially challenged students to continue their higher education and excel. Soon after graduating from the first ever batch of the Deshpande Fellowship Program in January 2009, which Sanjeev believes as great advancement in his career, he started exploring career in Entrepreneurship development, agriculture-livelihoods and resource mobilization space. Accordingly he worked in ‘Social Enterprise Incubation Program’ at Hubli, ‘Soybean productivity enhancement project’ at Rajasthan and ‘Livelihood opportunity study for Tibetan refugees living in exile in India’ at across India with TechnoServe Inc.
Later he worked as Resource Mobilization and Event Management professional both with Vidya Poshak and Agastya International Foundation for a year each in Sandbox area where he was instrumental in designing and executing several revenue generating programs including ‘Jignyasa 2012’ a state level mega event for school students. With a strong agreement with Foundation’s core values, Sanjeev joined Deshpande Foundation’s Grantmaking and Partnership Program in mid 2012 and currently working with Foundation’s partner NGOs to ensure effective implementation of partners programs and their growth for the maximized benefit for the community. Sanjeev is highly passionate about human capacity building and youth development and enjoys mentoring the fellows at DET’s skill building programs. In his spare time he loves go on long drive on bike, swimming and watching serious movies with meaningful message.