Managing Director of Echidna Giving | Co-Founder & former CEO of Room to Read
“Education Leadership through Crisis” is a multi-week video series featuring wisdom from a diverse group of education leaders.
Below, watch highlights from host Mubuso Zamchiya’s interview with Erin Ganju exploring the role of philanthropists and foundations in the education sector during the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of collaboration, and strategically evaluating your organization’s unique strengths.
Scroll down to watch the full interview.
“From the crises I managed Room to Read through, so much of it is about communication and transparency at the beginning… No one is expecting any single person be a hero through this… I think we have to be really open about where we’re succeeding and where we need help.”
Meet Erin Ganju
Erin Ganju is a Managing Director at Echidna Giving, one of the largest private funders in girls’ education in lower-income countries where girls are most disadvantaged. Erin joined Echidna Giving from Room to Read, the internationally lauded NGO she co-founded to advance literacy and gender equality. During her tenures as COO and CEO, Room to Read helped over 12 million children in 15 countries pursue a quality education. Erin was instrumental in the design and implementation of the organization’s scalable, replicable model. Erin captured her experiences and insights as co-author of Scaling Global Change: A Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Surviving the Start-up Phase and Driving Impact. The book is a how-to guide for social entrepreneurs who have a vision to change the world and need a strong organizational foundation to do it, utilizing Room to Read as an organizational case study.
Erin’s has been recognized as a World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur (2014), a Global Impact Featured Member for 2017 by the Young Presidents’ Organization, and was named one of Fast Company’s Extraordinary Women (2012). Before co-founding Room to Read, Erin worked at Goldman Sachs & Co, Unilever and several technology start-ups. Erin holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in international relations and economics from The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.
View the Full Interview
1. (01:00) Can you tell us about your background?
2. (02:43) What’s the difference between creating education opportunities during moments of normalcy versus crisis?
3. (04:32) How should educators and policy leaders be thinking about the needs of marginalized groups, like girls?
4. (08:11) What do you think needs to be done in terms of relief, recovery, resilience (in education)?
5. (14:22) What would you say is the role of philanthropy in times like these?
6. (17:02) What advice might you have today for a minister of education dealing with this COVID-19 crisis?
7. (19:48) Should we be thinking about higher education placement testing (allow them to progress) and access to primary school (kids just entering school) differently in a time of crisis?
8. (22:38) What’s keeping you up at night? [related to managing through the COVID-19 pandemic]
9. (26:14) What are you seeing now in the funding community regarding designated and undesignated funding?
10. (29:27) What would you apply from your book Scaling Global Change, in today’s world?
11. (33:59) Do you think the lessons you learned from Room to Read translate to the government side of social change?
12. (36:42) What cost and risks do you see as a result of the digital divide during the pandemic?
13. (40:50) How do we create learning that allows kids to be rooted in their own culture?
14. (44:05) What was your favorite book as a child? What books inspire you today?
15. (45:37) Any parting advice?
“The biggest concern I have is how many nonprofits will be able to see through this crisis. Having been a CEO of a fast-growing educational nonprofit, it is a really challenging job. We as private philanthropy need to be as supportive and as constructive in our support as possible to see through what is a really stressful situation to be in as a leader.”
Explore Other Interviews
Former US Secretary of Education
Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka
Former Minister of Education in Zimbabwe
Founder & CEO of the African Leadership Group
Former Minister of Education in Liberia
Min. Matthew Prempeh
Education Minister of Ghana
Sir Michael Barber
Founder & Chairman of Delivery Associates
Managing Partner of The City Fund
Founder, President, & CEO of the Gam Africa Institute for Leadership
Dr. Rebecca Winthrop
Co-Director of the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution
Director General of School Improvement in Ethiopia
Follow us on social media to learn when the latest interview launches!
Catch up with Luminos!
Subscribe to our quarterly Spotlight newsletter and get the latest news, blogs, and more.
The Luminos Fund is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization registered in the United States (EIN 36-4817073).