About this Series
Sharmila Rao Thakkar, MPH, MPA, is a philanthropy and nonprofit consultant at SRT Advising & Consulting in New York City. Utilizing expertise in leadership development, program implementation, resource development, and communications, she advises clients on operations, strategy, board governance and development, multigenerational engagement, grantmaking, and community outreach activities. She is also an affiliate consultant with the Support Center, an adjunct associate instructor in the nonprofit management master’s program in the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University in New York, a 21/64 certified trainer in multigenerational philanthropy, Exponent Philanthropy peer coach, and mentor for philanthropy/nonprofit leadership development programs.
Prior, Sharmila was appointed the first non-family executive director of The Siragusa Family Foundation in Chicago, where she directed the operational, programmatic, and administrative functions of the organization, participating in all roles key to running a charitable endeavor. She guided board funding decisions and evaluated programs in health, social services, education, and the arts for youth/families, provided capacity building and technical assistance to 100+ nonprofit grantee partners, built the board’s professionalism including recruitment and assessment, engaged the next generations in their leadership development, and provided strategic direction on grantmaking and grantee outreach and community partnership initiatives. She has held leadership roles on several boards and committees involving issues of women and children, immigrant communities, education, and public health, and building philanthropic leadership and the capacity of the nonprofit sector including currently Allow Good, the Healthy Schools Campaign, Move Forward Staten Island, TrueChild and the South Asian Philanthropy Project. Sharmila is also an alum of the Council on Foundations Career Pathways leadership development program and The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Equity PLACES fellowship. She has been working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector for 20+ years.
From her early days as a grade school hospital candy-striper to tutoring children as a teenager, building programs earlier in her career, and now mentoring young professionals and guiding families & organizations, she holds a keen awareness and passion for nonprofit/philanthropy work. A native New Yorker, Sharmila recently relocated back to Staten Island, NY after spending the past 17 years in Chicago. She holds an MPH from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, an MPA from the Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs, and a BA in International Relations from Brown University.