WORKING FOR A CAUSE
SHAHEEN MISTRI, 48 CEO, Teach for India, Mumbai
The idea of giving back to society was ingrained early on in Shaheen Mistri. She grew up watching her mother work with the hearing impaired at the school run by her. “I used to volunteer and spent every summer among children with special needs,” says Mistri. These experiences led to Akanksha, an after-school centre for children living in under-resourced areas, during her first year at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai. “The centre soon evolved into the Akanksha Foundation in 1991. After about two decades, I took time off to do a master’s in education from Manchester University, UK,” she says.
“I needed to learn the mechanics behind everything, from building a team to raising funds. After experiencing the realities of running a large scale non-profit organisation, I wanted to expand and grow my skill set, which made me go for my master’s,” she says. Now, as CEO of Teach for India, a non-profit organisation that is a part of the Teach for All global network fighting for education equity, she has 1,016 fellows and 37,500 students learning in the classrooms.
Her course at Manchester University helped her sharpen her organisation management and fund-raising skills. She channelled that towards creating an expansive, nationwide movement inspired by what she learnt at the university. These became the seeds for Teach for India to germinate as a movement.
For those planning to test the international waters, Mistri says, “You should never feel bad about asking for help as you embark on a big change in your life. You are now on the path to following your passion. Surround yourself with people who understand and align with your vision.”
TORCH BEARER Shaheen Mistri wants to make education for all a reality