Ashraya consists of a dedicated team of onsite staff and volunteers committed to our mission combined with a core group of board members, including two of our co-founders, dispersed around the world.
Co-Founder After growing up in Ithaca, New York, at the age of seventeen she was selected to be one of two American representatives at the Mahindra United World College of India (MUWCI), an International Baccalaureate high school located in Pune, India. During her two years at MUWCI, Elizabeth interned with a variety of local non-profit organizations, most oriented around the issues of child welfare, poverty, and specifically, care for and rights of the so-called “rootless and roofless” street children of Mumbai and Pune. After graduating from MUWCI in 2003, Elizabeth returned to the US to attend Emory University. Toward the end of her freshman year at Emory in 2004, Elizabeth was inspired by her course readings and past volunteer experiences as a student in Pune to found Ashraya. After establishing Ashraya in the US, Elizabeth returned to Pune to initiate the groundwork required for Ashraya to commence operations there. In June 2005, shortly after completing her sophomore year at Emory, opened the doors to Ashraya's first group of street children in Pune. Her work with Ashraya earned her multiple awards, such as the Center for Women’s Unsung Heroine Award, and the Emory Humanitarian Award.
Co-Founder Originally from Austria, Julia first traveled to India at age sixteen to attend the Mahindra United World College in Pune. During her two-year tenure at Mahindra College, Julia devoted some of her spare time to social work, taught English to children from nearby villages and volunteered at an orphanage. When Elizabeth Sholtys approached her in 2004 with the idea of founding a home for orphaned street children, Julia didn’t hesitate to join the team and has been on board ever since. Julia considers her work with Ashraya a lifelong commitment to helping street children and their communities of origin. Julia holds a degree in Economics and Political Economy from Princeton University. She spent two years working as a Financial Analyst for the Princeton University Investment Company, where she focused on International Equity and Real Assets investments. Julia left her full-time job at Princeton in July 2009 and moved to Pune to spend time running Ashraya's programs on the ground. Julia founded a branch of Ashraya in Austria and served as the head of Ashraya's fundraising branch in the US for two years. From the organization’s beginning stages, Julia has been heavily involved in fundraising activities as well as publicity efforts. Her work with Ashraya earned her multiple awards, such as the Princeton University International Service Award. Julia was named “Austrian Volunteer of the Year 2006” by the Austrian government and “Woman of the Year 2007” by an Austrian Women’s magazine.
Director Sanjiv carries with him a 35 years of rich experience in areas of CSR, Sustainability, Corporate affairs and Corporate communications. A certified Sustainability Assurance Practitioner (UK) and Affirmitive Action Assessor(Tata group); Sanjiv has managed CSR functions for Tata Communications and has been instrumental in designing global CSR projects in areas of Digital Inclusion, Education, Healthcare, Livelihoods, Entrepreneurship, Volunteering and Impact communication. He has also been an advisor for large corporates and development organisations, helping them deploy a sustainability management platform.
Director Lewitt comes with a rich experience of nonprofits and education sector. He is the Founder & CEO of Life-Lab which makes science education engaging and builds the capacities of teachers to create experience-based learning environments. Life-Lab is currently working with more than 1200+ schools, impacting 4.5 lakh children across 6 states. Lewitt is an Ashoka Fellow & Teach For India Fellow and who holds a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering.
Advisory Board Sneha is the CEO at ATMA and is leading the Fundraising, Governance and Communications verticals. She has close to twelve years of experience across the private and development sector. An MBA from the Indian School of Business, Sneha has held multiple positions across strategy consulting and corporate finance and previously worked at Boston Consulting Group’s Social Impact practice.
Chief Executive Officer Tarun has been part of the Ashraya team since 2018 and holds more than 12 years of experience in the social sector. He commenced his journey in the development sector as a teacher as part of the Teach for India fellowship and since then, he has worked extensively in the areas of curriculum design, teacher training, programme operations, and building programme strategy.
Director, Education Megha has been working with Ashraya since 2018 after completing a 5 year stint at Aarohi, Uttarakhand where she worked extensively with education, maternal health and livelihoods. She holds an MBA in Rural Development and posesses 8 years of experience in the development sector in program management.
Lead, Counseling & College Program Harkirat holds a Master's in Clinical Psychology, and has been the Lead Psychologist at Ashraya since 2018. She is currently pursuing Present-Oriented Psychotherapy, & her interest lies in the field of trauma-informed practices, resilience, & life satisfaction. She brings with her a diverse & rich experience, gained from her work across clinical & industrial settings, in rehabilitation, R&D, remediation, counseling, & psychometrics.
Rajani Gogawale Dhende
Lead, Heath & Community sustainability Program Rajani has more than 16 years of experiences in advocacy and community engagement for marginalised sections. She joined Ashraya in 2017 and holds a B.A in Sociology and MSW in Family and Child Development and has diverse experience providing counsellinng and legal support to women under the District Legal Aid Services Authority, Pune. She is also the proud winner of Corona Warrier awarded by Pune Muncipal Corporation in 2021.
Director, Partnerships Alisha is a B.E Honors Chemical Engineer from BITS Pilani, Hyderabad, with an M.A in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Shes has been associated with Ashraya since 2019 and carries 7 years of work experience in the development sector specialising in child protection, impact assessment, data, and research. Her existing role entails fundraising, donor communication, and partnerships.
Finance Manager A Chartered Account with core expertise in Fixed Asset Management and Financial Consultancy, Gaurav has handled assignments for several multinationals and Fortune 500 companies. He is currently the Head of Operations at Vsoft and has been associated with Ashraya since 2020.
Lead, Administeration Anuradha joined the Ashraya team in 2008. She started out as a Marathi teacher and pogressed to handling administrational work and community coordinating. She holds work experience with a financial firm with personal tutoring experience.
Parinaz R. Irani
Lead, Education Program Parinaz has been working with Ashraya since 2017 after completing her M.Com and B.Ed from Modern College of Education, Pune. With a Diploma in Experential Education and Practise, she is the perfect fit for the Lead of our Education Progam which promotes practical and experential based learning.
Lead, Finance Vrushali joined Ashraya in 2018 with two years of work experience with a financial firm. She completed her B.Com and M.Com from Pune University before starting to work in the financial field.
Lead, Early Childhood Care and Education Program Sweety has been with Ashraya since 2016, where she started out as a part time teacher and eventually earned the position of Lead, ECCE program. She holds a B.Com from Pune University, and has also simultaneoudly completed her pre-school teacher training bringing a diverse set of Early Education skills to Ashraya.
Remedial/Special Needs Educator Gulafsha has been part of the Ashraya team since 2018 and holds a Masters in Psychology and English from Pune University. She also holds prior work experience of 2.5 years from Bapu Trust Mental Health Organization specialising in learning disability and child psychology.
Counsellor Suchitra joined the Ashraya team in 2008, starting out as an Educator and progressing to a counselor responsbile for community outreach. She holds a Masters in Counselling and Diploma is Child Psychology and aspires to keep updating her knowledge in the field.
Educator Ujwala has been associated with Ashraya since 2017 and holds a B.A. in Economics along with diplomas in pre-primary training and Early Childhood Care and Education.
Educator Swati has been part of the Ashraya team since 2016 and holds a prior experience of 3 years of pre-school teaching at different schools in Pune. She holds an M.Com degree along with a degree in pre-school teacher training.
Educator Sujata has been associated with Ashraya since 2017 and holds a B.A in Psychology , a dimploma in Computer Applications and Montessori teacher training along with work experience of 11 years in Pertech Computers as an IS Executive and 3 years of managing operations at Beacon Shipping Corp.
Educator Jaya has been associated with Ashraya since 2018 and holds a B.A. in Sociology and Education, with a B.Ed in Social Studies and Hindi.
Educator One of our most seasoned Educators, Shweta has been associated with Ashraya since 2009. She holds a B.A and M.A in Politics along with a B.Ed in Marathi and History enabling her to bring academic knowledge along with a sense of community context to Ashraya's Education program.
Educator Divyani has been a part of the Ashraya team since 2017, and she holds a LLB from Pune University and a B.Ed. She comes with a passion for teaching and aims to bridge the learning gap of each child at Ashraya.
Educator Farheen has been a part of the Ashraya team since 2019 and she holds prior experience of 6 years of teaching in Maharashtra English School and Akansha Foundation. She holds a B.A in psychology with a diploma in Education.
Educator Rayeesa has been part of the Ashraya family since 2018, and holds an M,A in English with a MSCIT in Computers. She holds a diverse expereience profile with 14 years of teaching experience at IGNOU and Altruist English.
Extracurricular Coordinator and Educator Kunal joined the Ashraya team in 2015. One of our seasoned Educators, he holds a degree in MCA from Pune University along with 2 years of prior experience working as a software designer at S_Cube Software.
Educator An inspirational case study from the Waghri community, Suman has been part of the Ashraya Education team since 2019. She is currently teaching the Ashraya pre-schoolers while completing her pre-school teacher training on the side.
Educator One of the newest in our cohort, Sneha comes with 4 years of prior experience in teaching and forensic sciences. She holds a degree in B.Sc. in Chemistry with an M.Sc. in Forensic Sciences and a Diploma in English creative writing.
Health Assistant Laxmi joined Ashraya in 2018 as a community volunteer and was promoted to the Health Assistant due to consistency and hard work.
Caregiver A community member associated with Ashraya since 2017.