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Sanjiv Rao, Ph.D.

Sanjiv Rao recently completed his term as director of the Civic Engagement and Government program at the Ford Foundation in which he oversaw grantmaking designed to support efforts to strengthen representation, participation, and leadership in US democracy so that communities have the capacities to shape their futures, animated by principles of dignity, inclusion, and fairness.

Sanjiv Rao recently completed his term as director of the Civic Engagement and Government program at the Ford Foundation in which he oversaw grantmaking designed to support efforts to strengthen representation, participation, and leadership in US democracy so that communities have the capacities to shape their futures, animated by principles of dignity, inclusion, and fairness. His tenure in philanthropy focused on education, youth leadership development, civic engagement, community power-building, and democracy reform. Common themes across his work and career involve stitching together civil society organizations more effectively with public systems, supporting community-led solutions to systems change, and advancing agendas that center people and their lived experience in shaping an inclusive multi-racial democracy marked by racial, economic, and social justice. 

Earlier in his career, Sanjiv served as executive director of the New York State Network for Youth Success, where he led policy efforts to integrate youth development more effectively with the public systems that touch the lives of young people, particularly those from communities of concentrated poverty. He has also held positions at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and as a member of the research team studying the Leadership for a Changing World program at New York University. Sanjiv began his career as an upper elementary and middle school teacher in California, Texas, and Mexico.

Sanjiv holds a PhD in public administration from New York University, a master’s degree in education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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