Our people

Rakesh  Rajani

Rakesh Rajani

Vice President of Programs, Co-Impact

Rakesh brings three decades of experience in human rights, education, governance and philanthropy in his role as Vice President, Programs at Co-Impact.

Until recently he served as the Director of Civic Engagement and Government at the Ford Foundation, responsible for US and global programs on democratic participation, taxes and budgets, and protecting civic space. Previously he founded and served as the Head of Twaweza, an East African organization that promotes citizen agency and open government, and led the establishment of Uwezo, Africa’s largest program to assess basic literacy and numeracy. Prior to that he served as the founding executive director of HakiElimu, Tanzania’s leading citizen engagement and education advocacy organization.

Rakesh is also a founding member and past co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, which seeks to restore the social compact between people and governments in over 75 countries covering more than two billion people. He has played key roles in establishing several civil society and media platforms in Tanzania, and consulted on global development for Google.org, the Hewlett Foundation, Hivos and UNICEF, among others.

Rakesh serves on several non-profit boards, including the Hewlett Foundation, the International Budget Partnership (IBP), and Innovations in Poverty Action (IPA), and is an advisor to the Governance and Citizen Engagement Initiative of the Omidyar Network. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development and has been a Fellow at Harvard University.

Rakesh holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Literature from Brandeis University. He graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He has written and edited over 400 papers and popular publications in English and Swahili. He lives with his independently minded children and wife in New York and is reportedly a very capable house-husband.