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Team Bios

Sejal Desai, Founder and CEO

Sejal is the CEO of SevaYatra, a social venture that offers short term service project opportunities at NGOs in India. Prior to SevaYatra, she served as a Principal at MHT Partners; a boutique investment bank based in Dallas where she worked on cross-border merger and acquisitions primarily between US and Indian companies. She was also a Co-Founder and Principal of STARTech Early Ventures, a seed stage venture firm, that invested in early stage technology ventures in Texas. She also led various entrepreneurial education and training efforts as CEO of STARTech Foundation, a sister organization of STARTech Early Ventures. In addition to STARTech, Sejal also co-founded and sold a hands-on science education business, Mad Science of Denton County. Prior to her work in the US, Sejal served as a manager in the corporate advisory services division for Ernst & Young in Mumbai, India for a few years where she worked on various foreign inward investment projects, valuation as well as due diligence studies. She began her career at D.J. Shukla & Co., where she handled personal taxes and conducted audits for domestic corporations.

Sejal serves on the advisory board for the Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas. She currently also serves on the Boards of thinkIndia Foundation and Dallas Assembly. She co-founded the Dallas chapter for the American India Foundation (AIF) and serves on their Leadership Council for the Dallas chapter as well as their Education Advisory Council at a national level. Sejal is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, an MBA from University of Texas at Dallas and is currently also pursuing a Masters in Liberal Studies from Southern Methodist University. Sejal lives in Dallas with her husband, Hemang, and their two children, Mohan and Maya.

Ruchi Khemka, Vice President, SevaYatra Edutrips Private Limited

Ruchi has over 10 years of experience in marketing and building business having worked across with an IT organization, two global non-profit-organizations, her own start-up in fashion & retail and is a true entrepreneur at heart. She started her career with Microsoft India in 1999 and served at various roles within Sales, Distribution and Marketing teams within Microsoft.  In November 2003, Ruchi started her entrepreneurial journey by setting up a ‘plus size fashion garment store’ in India. Upon exit from the enterprise in June 2006 she moved on and worked as an entrepreneur evangelist with TiE – The Indus Entrepreneurs, in Mumbai and February 2008 onwards in London.  At TiE, Ruchi was responsible for structuring meaningful programs on diverse aspects & challenges of entrepreneurship, to educate, inspire, mentor & connect entrepreneurs.  Upon her return to India in August 2009, Ruchi led Astia ( India's strategic vision, initial market validation, fundraising, legal incorporation and business development efforts.  Having lived and worked in different parts of India and in the UK, she has had the opportunity to work along with some great companies and teams with diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.   

Joy Mischley, Program Manager

Joy bridges the fields of social work and experiential education.  With seven years of employment in higher education, Joy has taught, facilitated, and supervised over 500 university students engaged in intensive community service projects in a wide-range of locations, from New Orleans to South Africa.  Most recently, Joy served as a Clinton Fellow through the American India Foundation in Pune, where she worked as a youth social worker.  While in graduate school, Joy had the opportunity to work in Delhi with the YMCA’s social development programs.  Joy credits these experiences in India for instilling her strong commitment to adding value to the important work of NGOs.  Joy completed her bachelor’s degree in International Comparative Studies at Duke University and her master of social work degree at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.


Riddhi Chhaya, Vice President, Operations and Business Development

Riddhi has a background in investment banking with close to 10 years experience in the field.   After graduating from business school, she worked with Kotak Mahindra, one of India’s premier Investment Banks. As a member of the bank’s capital markets team and later the M&A team, Riddhi was involved in capital raising exercises and M&A and restructuring transactions for some of India’s leading corporates.  She subsequently joined the M&A team at Coopers & Lybrand India (now PriceWaterhouse Coopers).  In her role as Senior Consultant, she led transaction teams working on several acquisitions, joint ventures and restructuring assignments.


Riddhi moved to London in 1998 and after completing a Masters in Finance, she joined Bear Stearns’ corporate finance team.   During her time there, Riddhi worked on several M&A deals with companies across Europe, mainly in the areas of Chemicals, Transportation & Logistics and Industrial Products.  She was responsible for assisting with business development as well as for executing various transaction related activities including advanced financial modeling, corporate valuations, buyer search and analysis and due diligence.

Riddhi holds an M.B.A. from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and a Masters in Finance from the London Business School. 

Azad Oommen, Co-Founder

Azad has significant experience in the not-for-profit sector in the United States and India. He was an integral staff member of the the American India Foundation, the largest diaspora-led philanthropy focused on India, from 2003 to 2010. He led AIF's communications, chapter fundraising and the Clinton Fellowship for Service in India.

He has an extensive network in the non-profit space in India, and has worked with companies and high net-worth individuals in the United States to develop their India philanthropic strategies.
Previously, he directed the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows program for the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington DC and led the creation of the Clinton Democracy Fellowship at City Year in Boston. He holds a Masters degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a Bachelors degree in International Development Economics from Georgetown University.

Kapil Hetamsaria, Director, SevaYatra Edutrips Private Limited

Kapil Hetamsaria is a Director at Microsoft and leads the Enterprise Strategy business across Asia. He has recently relocated to India after spending 10 years in the US. He is very passionate about driving social change in India. He is a former McKinsey & Co. consultant and has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation on various social initiatives including education, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) applied to development, etc. At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kapil worked on helping set up a new initiative to invest in new projects in Africa and India to enable rural farmers to improve their livelihoods via use of technology. As an Advisor and Director in SevaYatra, Kapil will work with the SevaYatra India team in business development and to ensure the organization is set up for success over the years to come.

Venkatesh Raghavendra, Advisor

Venkatesh (Venky) Raghavendra is a social entrepreneur and currently the Senior Director of Philanthropy at the American India Foundation ( and works out of AIF’s New York office.  He helps raise awareness about socio-economic issues to encourage diaspora and other forms of philanthropic investment into India.  Venky also focuses on the livelihoods track of AIF’s work, and is engaged with organizations in India working with urban unemployed youth, street sweepers, rickshaw pullers amongst others.

Prior to joining AIF Venky worked in Washington DC as the Managing Director responsible for Global Partnerships with the citizen sector organization “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public”.  While at Ashoka, Venky promoted social entrepreneurship in India and around the world.  He engaged leading business entrepreneurs in the U.S. to invest in social entrepreneurs and their innovations. 

Earlier, in the late 80s and early 90s Venky co-founded an organization in the rainforests of South India to create livelihood opportunities for indigenous communities through eco-tourism and adventure-tourism.  Through activities such as hiking, canoeing & rock-climbing Venky was able to build awareness about the rich but fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats of South India.  He played an active role in replicating this new paradigm of community-owned eco-tourism enterprises across the country.  He remains actively involved with the ecotourism and green livelihoods efforts around the world.

Pam Gerber, Executive Director, Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas
Pam Gerber is Executive Director of Entrepreneurs For North Texas (EFNT), a fund of Communities Foundation of Texas that facilitates corporate community involvement and philanthropy. Pam relocated in 2000 to Dallas from San Jose, California after a ten-year career with City Year, a national youth service AmeriCorps program. She served as the National Chief of Staff, National VP of Corporate Development and founding Executive Director of City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.
Pam is active in the Dallas community and serves as a City Councilmember appointee to the Community Development Board.  She is currently on the Advisory Boards of the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, the University of North Texas School of Public Affairs and Community Service and Youth First Texas. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Dallas Regional Chamber's Capital Connections series and the John Thomas Resource Center Capital Campaign. 
Previously, Pam served as a Councilmember appointee of the Citizen’s Police Review Board, and as a Board Member of the Dallas Women’s Foundation and TexChange, as well as an Advisory Board member of Philanthropy World Magazine, the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program and Jr. Finance. Pam holds a degree in Sociology from the University of California at San Diego.
Udit Hooda

Udit Hooda a young entrepreneur and avid sportsman from New Delhi, India. After finishing his graduation in Commerce and Business from SGTB Khalsa College, Delhi University in 2005 he went for an AIESEC internship for 4 months in Poland and afterwards traveled in Europe for 2 months. On his return he started a company dealing in Home D├ęcor products, exporting to Europe and presently he is working on a company called KnowledgeYatra that provides University and School students travel and inter-cultural exposure opportunities in Europe and for International students in India.

His travels and interactions with people from all over the world and experiences of having travelled extensively in India, gave him an interesting insight into the cultures and people of these places. In his entrepreneurial efforts it has always been his aim to start and get involved in ventures with positive social impacts and involving environmentally sustainable activities.

Jainik Shah

 Jainik Shah is a management consultant with the Deloitte Consulting, Irving office. Jainik's background is in product development and project management. He earned is MBA in 2009 with the academic focus on entrepreneurship.

SevaYatra presented an opportunity to help build an entity that felt right using newly learned skills. Jainik worked on business development and planning.

Jainik is interested in the NGOs and self-sustained social ventures in India for their direct impact on pressing issues.

Keerti Kirpalani

Keerti has been active in cultural and community service opportunities for much of her life. She is a professional museum educator and currently works with the Dallas Museum of Art. Before the DMA, Keerti was an educator at the Blanton Museum of Art at University of Texas at Austin and at ArtPace in San Antonio. She has also has worked to create and facilitate educational experiences for children and adults with partners such as UT Austin, Austin Zilker Theater, River City Youth Foundation, and school districts in Texas. Her educational outlook is greatly influenced by her interests in cultural and interdisciplinary studies.

Keerti has also spent time in India and the US planning and designing materials for exhibitions on community service and human values education. She has worked to co-coordinate group trips to rural India to experience the culture, participate in community activities, and engage in group building. Keerti has been involved in cultural performance for many years and continues that passion here in Dallas.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling and has spent time journeying through the US, India, and parts of Europe and Southeast Asia. Keerti has a BA in English literature from Georgetown University, a degree in Visual Communications Design, and an MA in Art Education from UT Austin, and is a freelance writer, designer, and educator.

Kapil Hetamsaria

Kapil Hetamsaria is very passionate about driving social change in India and through his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Grameen Foundation has a good understanding of how ICT (Information and Communication Technology) can be used to enable change in rural parts of these geographies. He is currently a Director at Microsoft in Seattle helping grow the server business globally at Microsoft. Through his professional experience in strategy and business operations from working at McKinsey & Co. as well as at Microsoft, Kapil seeks to assist SevaYatra in its growth as a friend, business advisor and most importantly a Sevak!

Jonathan Ripley

Jonathan has been engaging in a number of projects in India for the past several years. He assisted with SevaYatra’s initial launch and coordinated all the projects on ground. Most recently, he managed the American India Foundation’s William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India and placed over 100 American professionals for 10 months of volunteer work at NGOs across the country. He served as a Clinton Fellow himself at the South India AIDS Action Programme in Chennai, Tamil Nadu where he worked on HIV risk prevention among vulnerable groups. Prior to AIF, Jonathan completed his graduate studies in South Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, with a focus on Tamil literature. Committed to human rights and equal opportunity for socially excluded groups, Jonathan provides capacity building support to NGOs and CBOs on a continuing basis.

Lalith Prasad
Lalith is currently working for American India Foundation Trust, he heads the Digital Equalizer (DE) Program in Karnataka, prior to joining AIF he was associated with SVARAJ (formerly Oxfam Society) as a resource mobilization officer for a brief time. Lalith started his as a practitioner in a Govt. aided school, where his passion to education got tremendously reinforced. He joined Azim Premji Foundation and worked in different capacities / roles for 5 years.
Lalith has trained close to 5000 teachers in ICT integration in Teaching-learning Processes from the Govt. higher primary and Govt. secondary schools and has been guest lecture for many organizations like Bangalore University, NIPCID, Karnataka Science club, etc
Lalith has a graduation in Computer Science and Master in Social Work and is very passionate about ICT integration in education; his passion also includes unleashing creativity in children especially in the age group of 5 – 12.