Dr. Vishakha N. Desai

Special Advisor to the President of Columbia University


D r. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and a Senior Research Scholar for the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. From 2004 through 2012, Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board.

An internationally renowned scholar of Asian art, she has published and lectured extensively on the intersection of traditional and contemporary arts and policy in diverse countries of Asia. Dr. Desai is a Trustee of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for AFS Intercultural Programs. She is a board member of Teach For All, KREA University and is the sole female independent director on the Corporate Board of Mahindra and Mahindra, one of the five largest global companies in India.

Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in Political Science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan, in addition to multiple honorary degrees.



Meet our advisors:

  • Shahidul Alam – Photographer, Activist & Founder Drik, Chobi Mela, & Majority World
  • Dounia Benslimane – Cofounder & director Racines Casablanca
  • Russel Hlongwane – Performance Artist & Vice President Kwa Zulu Natal Society of Arts Gallery (KZNSA Gallery)
  • Susa Pop – Founder & Director Public Art Lab
  • Jamila Raqib – Specialist nonviolent action, executive director Albert Einstein Institution, fellow, MIT Media Lab
  • Daniel Cinta – Creative director buró de innovación, Mexico City