By Maria Larsson

For our luncheon on May 27 SACC-SF/SV has invited Room to Read, a charity organization founded on the belief that world change starts with educated children. Founder and executive chairman John Woods left his senior executive position at Microsoft to start Room to Read in 2000 after trekking in Nepal and visiting local schools. Amazed by the children and teachers enthusiasm and saddened by the lack of resources he was driven to help. Speaking at the luncheon is Leona Meng, a Strategic Funding Fellow for the organization. SACC-SF/SV met with Meng whose overwhelming passion for this cause is nothing less than infectious and we just had to find out more. On May 27 you will feel the same. More info on the luncheon, see www.sacc-sf.org or call (415)781-4188

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Snaphot on Leona Meng:

What about Room to Read attracted you?
I was impressed with how Room to Read uses basic business principles from the private sector and best practices from the non-profit sector to help millions of children in the developing world gain access to quality educational opportunities. I also loved the way its people are results driven, focused, passionate and engaged.

What path lead you to work for the organization?
After moving to India with Goldman Sachs three years ago, I volunteered with a primary school for underserved children where I taught a class each week on “Countries of the World.” This experience was life changing and prompted me to apply for a fellowship offered by Goldman Sachs where 6 employees are given the opportunity to take a one-year paid leave of absence to work for a charity. I meet with the manager of the program and asked if she knew of a charity that focused on literacy and had a presence in India and she suggested Room to Read. I did a significant amount of research on Room to Read and became 100% convinced after I traveled to Vietnam to see Room to Read’s impact for myself.

What do you think is your most significant contribution to Room to Read?
My focus in March and April has been on Room to Read’s expansion into Tanzania. I have drafted a pitch document that will be used to secure up front fundraising commitments from a donor consortium to ensure Room to Read’s ability to make long term commitments to partner communities in Tanzania.

For more info on the upcoming San Francisco Luncheon: www.sacc-sf.org