Social Venture Partners International is proud to announce long-time progressive movement strategist, racial equity expert, and community builder Sudha Nandagopal as our new CEO. Sudha has worked across many sectors to provide strategic vision and lead change, including in government, non-profits, political campaigns, and philanthropy. In all her work—social movement leadership, communications, organizational development, facilitation, strategy, politics and policy—she has focused on shifting power to those most affected by issues of inequity and injustice.
“Sudha is the right leader at the right time. As SVP’s discussions of global progress are increasingly driven by the need for a critical analysis of power, we selected Sudha as a leader who could inspire and galvanize SVP’s global network to address the root causes of issues facing communities worldwide.” — SVPI Board Member Patricia Andrade
Sudha has a long history in organizational leadership having served on the board OneAmerica for over a decade, and having been a founding board member of OneAmerica Votes where she also served as Board President. She’s held leadership positions with several organizations who have strong affiliate/network relationships including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Washington Conservation Voters. Most recently, Sudha co-created and led the first-of-its kind City of Seattle’s Equity & Environment Initiative, where she worked to ensure that those most affected by environmental challenges were at the center of decision-making and leading environmental work. This work served as a model to city governments around the country who were seeking practical ways to center racial equity in their work. In this role, Sudha was an active member of the Urban Sustainability Director Network (USDN) and The Funders’ Network Partners’ for Places program, where she worked with other City governments, consultants, community leaders, and foundations to support systemic change, identify ways to shift power, and figure out frameworks for collaborative governance of resources.
Sudha brings to SVP nearly two decades of experience in networks and systems-change, a vitally important perspective as the network seeks to more impactfully influence the philanthropic sector at large.
“Given the scale of the challenges our communities face, it is more important than ever to learn and experiment together to democratize power. Networks play a critical role in learning and growth and I hope that together we—SVP partners and affiliates around the world—can begin to demonstrate how philanthropy can be more accountable to those who are most impacted by systems of oppression.” —Sudha Nandagopal, SVPI CEO.
With this appointment, Sudha becomes the first woman of color to serve as the CEO of SVP International in the network’s 20-year history, and arrives at a critical inflection point. Historically functioning as the “invisible backbone” of the SVP network, SVPI is now expanding its partner and education-centered goals to become a stronger agent of community-driven impact. As the network increasingly explores issues of equity and inclusion and how traditional philanthropy has often overlooked—even exacerbated—those problems, Sudha brings significant professional and personal experience. With a nuanced understanding of what it means to be part of a marginalized group, including her own context and positionality, Sudha leads with the expertise necessary to shift perspectives and outcomes across SVP and the sector at large.
As Cynthia Nimmo, president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, points out,
[M]any gains have been realized when it comes to women having agency… Now more than ever, we need more women of color leaders making policy decisions, more women of color in philanthropy making funding decisions, and more girls of color given the opportunity to speak and be heard when and where decisions are being made. —Julia Travers, Inside Philanthropy
Patricia Andrade says, “Our sector and the SVP network are coming to understand that addressing inequity must be part of our work, and Sudha offers deep experience in bringing new and marginalized voices and perspectives to the table, to bring light to and shift the existing power dynamic.”
Sudha will bring bold leadership to SVP International to challenge historical assumptions about philanthropic work, pushing SVP to innovate, experiment and collaborate more broadly across its global network. She will collaborate with SVP affiliates to bring new focus to one of the world’s largest engaged philanthropic networks. Over 40 chapters strong and in 8 countries, Social Venture Partners is now a global movement of over 3500 engaged donors, volunteers and skilled leaders who have invested in more than 900 individual nonprofits through $70 million (USD) in unrestricted grants.
“I know the vitality of the SVP network is critical for our success. Here in Boulder County we can serve our community most effectively when we are part of a vibrant, diverse, connected, nimble, and responsive network. Sudha is a collaborative and visionary leader who will guide our network to play a key role in large-scale change by elevating values of relationship, proximity, equity, and humility.” – Jennie Arbogash, SVP Boulder County, CEO
Sudha graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Biology and Society and a specialization in environment, policy, and writing. She is the third daughter of immigrant parents from India and grew up in Spokane, WA. She is an expert consultant on racial equity and strategy to other organizations, foundations and governments, and a thought leader who has written for publications such as [Grist.org](https://grist.org/grist-50/profile/sudha-nandagopal/) and the Seattle Globalist. Grist Magazine also recognized Sudha as one of 50 “innovators, organizers, and visionaries who will lead us toward a more sustainable future.”
“I am deeply appreciative of the SVP International Board for putting their trust in me during this pivotal moment for the organization and this network.” – Sudha Nandagopal, SVPI CEO